Keep up-to-date with important Veterans support, news and events including disability and compensation entitlements and various legislation and regulations.
SUPPORT FOR VETERANS
Veterans disability and compensation entitlements are covered under various legislation and regulations.
These are reviewed frequently by Government, mainly resulting from bureaucratic initiatives. On occasions, changes are made based on Ex-service organisations’ and veterans’ initiatives, but only after intense pressure from these groups or their local member. These reviews and other DVA reports, will be published as they are released.
We will also publish contentious issues where veterans and ex-service members entitlements and benefits are threatened by poorly considered government decisions – as displayed below.
On 1 May 2018, DVA commenced two new measures designed to benefit veterans and their families. These measures were announced last year and have been mentioned during a recent meeting of the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table.
View support packages:
As part of DVA’s commitment to improving access to services for veterans and their families, the new Veteran Payment is now available to eligible individuals and their partners. This payment provides interim financial support to veterans who cannot work or support themselves while they await liability decisions on claims for mental health conditions under either the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) or the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).
Extended Family Support Package
The Family Support Package is designed to extend family support under the MRCA for veterans and their families. There are two distinct groups that will benefit from this initiative: eligible veterans and their families, and eligible spouse or partner of deceased veterans. This initiative will provide guidance and financial support to alleviate pressures when needed the most. The time-limited support available include expanded childcare funding, additional counselling services and eligible widow(er)s will be entitled to home help.
VETERANS’ NEWS & INFORMATION
Military Rehabilitation and Compensation and Other Legislation Amendment (Incapacity Payments) Bill
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel, the Hon Matt Keogh MP, introduced the legislation. The Bill and Explanatory Statement can be viewed at:
Report of the Inquiry into Recognition for Members and Families of ADF Members who are injured, wounded or killed in or as a result of Service.
In January 2021 former Veterans’ Affairs Minister, the Hon Darren Chester MP, directed the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal to inquire into and report on recognition for members and families of members of the Australian Defence Force who are injured, wounded or killed in or as a result of service.
In March 2022, the Tribunal has delivered its report to the current Minister, the Hon Andrew Gee MP, concluding that:
- None of the existing forms of recognition for death, wounding or injury in service provide an adequate personalised expression of the gratitude of the nation for the sacrifice that a veteran has made through their service, or that their family has endured as a result.
- Australia lacks but should have, an emblematic recognition of that sacrifice in a form that can be publicly worn in commemoration and with pride.
The Tribunal also submitted its proposal for a principled scheme for providing that recognition for service-related death and serious wounding, injury or disease under a set of guiding principles.
“We believe it would provide a tangible and readily recognisable expression of national gratitude for the sacrifice of ADF members killed or suffering a serious wound, injury or disease in or as a result of their service and, quite separately, that of their families, and would do so in a way that allows existing defence honours and awards to better “tell the story” of that service.” – excerpt from the Letter of Transmission accompanying the Report.
The Air Force Association was among a number of Ex-Service Organisations (ESO’s) invited to provide a submission to the Inquiry. AFA President, Carl Schiller also provided evidence at the Tribunal Hearing.
In its written submission, “the Air Force Association supported medallic recognition of injuries incurred as a result of service in warlike and prescribed non-warlike operations, with recognition to begin from the outset of Australia’s commitment to the Vietnam War.”
In its written and oral submission, the Association stated that “there was a case for recognition of service in higher risk operations, but that injury incurred in peacetime activities such as playing ADF sponsored sport, or in aircraft accidents during training, could be considered to be workplace accidents, no different to those incurred in a civilian workplace. The Association urged that any new form of recognition be subject to carefully prescribed eligibility, linked to severity, in order to avoid devaluing such recognition.”
The full Report by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal can be found on its website:
Govt Response to Enquiry on Accuracy of DFRDB Information to Members.
Veterans’ Affairs Amendment on Disability Payments Passed by Parliament.
On 5 December the Veteran’s Affairs Legislation Amendment (Exempt Disability Payments from Income Testing and Other Measures) Bill 2021 was passed by both Houses of Parliament.
For full details please go to Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Exempting Disability Payments from Income Testing and Other Measures) Bill 2021.
The implications of the passing of this Bill are:
Defence Force Income Support Allowance (DFISA) and Rent Assistance
- This Bill enacts the 2020-21 Budget measure to exempt disability payments from the income test under the Social Security Act 1991from 1 January 2022.
- Centrelink payments such as the Age Pension will increase as a result of this, removing the need for DFISA (Defence Force Income Support Allowance). DFISA will no longer be paid from 1 January 2022.
- Veterans and their partners do not need to do anything, the payments will be made automatically.
- The Disability Income Rent Test will be removed so that disability income does not reduce Rent Assistance. This means from 1 January 2022, some veterans will receive more Rent Assistance, or receive Rent Assistance for the first time.
We encourage any Service Pension, Income Support or Veteran Payment recipients who also receive Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) Disability Pension, Military, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) Permanent Impairment or Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) and who pay private rent above the following thresholds, to update their rental accommodation details if they have not already done so, in order to receive Rent Assistance. An SMS was sent last month to those who may be eligible.
Per fortnight @ 20 September 2021 Rates
Maximum Rent Assistance
Illness separated (each)
Details can also be updated via MyService or by phoning DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
If you are eligible, your Rent Assistance payments will be made automatically – apart from updating your rental information, you do not have to do anything.
- The Bill also contained amendments to establish a two-year pilot for non-liability rehabilitation. The pilot is a voluntary program designed to help veterans who have not made a claim for compensation, with access to psychosocial and vocational rehabilitation support. We will write separately to provide you with more information about the Pilot soon.
Disability Pension name change
- The Disability Pension is being renamed the Disability Compensation Payment to better reflect the nature of the payment. This is a change in name only, and will not change the way the payment is made or how it is treated by other organisations. The change will take time, so you may see both old and new names for a while.
Once the Bill receives Royal Assent, these measures will take effect on 1 January 2022.
Closure of MyAccount on 10 December 2021
The Department of Veterans Affairs has been working towards closing MyAccount for the last 12 months and has advised that MyAccount will be closed on 10 December 2021.
The following initiatives have been out in place to ensure all My Account holders are aware of the change and of any actions they may need to take including:
- An email to all clients who are MyAccount holders, explaining the changes and including a factsheet about the changes and a guide on how to save MyAccount inbox contents.
- MyAccount site has been updated to advise the closure date and includes links to the guide on how to save MyAccount inbox contents.
- An article on Latest News for Veterans for DVA e-news subscribers and posted on the DVA website.
- A brief article on ForceNet.
- An update for Advocates to explain the changes.
Click on the image below to for trh My Account is Closing factsheet or visit the DVA website.
If you have any additional questions about this change, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFA Submission to the Royal Commission into Defence & Veteran Suicide
The Air Force Association has provided its submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
The Association’s full submission can be accessed here.
The Preliminary Interim Report: Interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention that was handed to the Government on 15 September, 2021 can be found here.
Veterans' Claims Processing System Overhaul by DVA
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee has announced the appointment of independent consultants to overhaul the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ claims processing system.
Consultants McKinsey & Company will work with families who have lost loved ones to suicide, to formulate recommendations that will overhaul the system to better serve our veterans.
Read the full Ministerial Media Release below:
Finalisation of Investigations under Section 196G of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986
The Repatriation Medical Authority (the Authority) wishes to advise that the investigations listed in the attached schedule and previously advertised in the Government Notices Gazette, have now been completed.
The new Instruments that have been determined by the Authority were signed by the Chairperson on 1 October 2021.
Notification of Investigations under Section 196G of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986
The Repatriation Medical Authority (the Authority) wishes to advise that four notices of investigation under section 196G of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 appeared in the Government Notices Gazette of 12 October 2021. A link to each notice is included below:
Interim National Commissioner's Report and AIHW Report on Veteran Suicide Presented to the Government on 29 Sept 2021
Two important reports concerning the incidence and prevention of veteran suicide were presented to the Government last week.
The Preliminary Interim Report of the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) into the rate of suicide among serving and former-serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) was presented to the Government on 29 September.
Preliminary Interim Report
The interim Commissioner’s Report can be found here: https://www.nationalcommissionerdvsp.gov.au/publications/interim-national-commissioner-defence-and-veteran-suicide-preventions-report.
The interim National Commissioner, Dr Bernadette Boss CSC, commenced her work on the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides on 16 November 2020.
The Report sets out the initiatives Dr Boss has undertaken to date, including preliminary findings and initial recommendations which will form the foundation for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, which was established on 8 July 2021.
The Report also makes findings on prevalence, risk and protective factors, and highlights particular areas which require closer examination and change in relation to defence and veteran suicide.
Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister, Andrew Gee said “I believe the report will make a significant contribution to current and future work being undertaken to improve veterans’ services.”
Read Government media release on the Preliminary Interim Report here.
AIHW Report into suicides among ADF members
The fourth annual report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) into the rate of suicide among serving and former-serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) was also presented to Government.
The AIHW’s Report is available at https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/serving-and-ex-serving-adf-suicide-monitoring-2001/contents/about.
A recording of the AIHW’s webinar on the report’s findings can also be found here: https://vimeo.com/617509569/6a2e03d7ad .
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said the report highlights the long term nature of the issue of veteran suicide and re-affirms the need for Australia to give our veterans and their families the best support possible.
The Minister has directed the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Defence undertake the following:
- Overhauling the veterans’ claims process
- Accelerating Joint Transition Authority Implementation Plan
- Harmonising legislation dealing veterans’ compensation and rehabilitation
“This report once again highlights the unacceptably high rate of suicide in the Defence and veteran communities, and the importance of the work of the Royal Commission.” said Minister Gee.
Read Government media release on the AIHW Report here.
Air Force Association provides response to DVA's draft Veteran Family Strategy
DVA’s Draft Veteran Family Strategy – Background
In the 2021-22 Budget, the Government announced $5.1 million for an enhanced Family Support Package, which will provide targeted, practical support for veteran families at risk of, or in crisis.
In support of this, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is in the process of developing its first Veteran Family Strategy and has invited comment from a number of ESO’s, including the Air Force Association.
The proposed Veteran Family Strategy is complemented by the existing Family and Domestic Violence Strategy 2020-25, and the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan 2020-23.
It documents DVA’s commitment to ensuring the needs of veteran families are embedded in policy development and service delivery and sets out the framework which will shape the way DVA considers and interacts with veteran families.
The Air Force Association has sumitted its reponse to the draft strategy, which can be read in full below, or downloaded separately by clicking on the link below.
DRAFT VETERAN FAMILY STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN – AIR FORCE ASSOCIATION RESPONSE
The Air Force Association welcomes the opportunity to comment on the draft Veteran Family Strategy and Action Plan forwarded on May 20th, 2021. Comments follow.
The Association applauds the Department’s initiative to support former and serving veterans families, and the scope of the ‘family’ definition. However, although understanding the limits of DVA’s legislative responsibilities towards veterans who are eligible for support under the three Acts, the Association is concerned for the many veterans’ families who are not DVA clients. Advice from the ‘field’ indicates many of these serving veterans’ families in need of support are being ignored and even abandoned. Also, the scope of the Strategy appears to be faint on supporting the families of former serving veterans.
There are many veteran families estranged from the veteran. Any DVA payments may only support the veteran, which may be critical if the veteran is a perpetrator of domestic violence or impossible to live with. Veteran families, even of eligible veterans, can be vulnerable. Consequently, it seems vulnerable veterans’ families are not specifically covered in DVA’s well- intended initiatives.
Specifically, Action 3.2.3 should consider ALL families of veterans, serving and former serving. Recognising this vulnerability, the Association has made a commitment in its revised Constitution and Air Force Association Foundation Trust Deed to support all families of veterans.
There is concern the Action Plan has 53 specific actions of which only 6 are scheduled for completion by 1 July 2022 and that the remaining 47 items have no planned completion date. Noting the five-year Action Plan is described as aspirational, is the Department optimistic it will complete at least the majority of these action items?
The Strategy and Action Plan should be periodically reviewed, and findings circulated to the ESO community. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should be developed to measure its effectiveness. KPIs will characterise what success should look like.
Carl Schiller, OAM, CSM National President
Air Force Association
8 June, 2021
DVA and Services Australia provide veterans with a Standardised Service Offer
DVA has advised that it has been working with Services Australia to provide services and support to veterans and their families via a Standardised Service Offer that delivers a more equitable and connected face-to-face experience.
With effect from 1 July 2021, Veterans and their families will be able to access DVA services at 318 Services Australia service centres across Australia. Veterans and their families who attend a Services Australia service centre can seek assistance for a series of DVA services, such as:
- Printing and lodgement of DVA forms and supporting documents;
- Fielding general enquiries;
- Connection with DVA subject matter experts and support services such as Open Arms; and
- Supporting veterans and their families in accessing online services in these service centres.
All Services Australia staff in the 318 service centres will undertake mandatory training to ensure veterans and their families are well supported.
The expanded service offering will not impact the services and support currently provided though DVA’s Veterans Access Network. Existing services provided through Veteran Information Service sites and existing co-located offices will continue as normal.
Another important part of the service expansion is that the 318 service centres will also commemorate the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families by actively recognising and promoting significant national events such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.
These changes will enable easier access to services, in particular for those living in rural and regional areas, and are an important expansion of the DVA footprint to reach the veteran community.
Veterans and their families will be able to walk into any Services Australia shopfront and receive assistance. The list of service centre locations and other information will be available on DVA’s website from 1 July 2021.
ADF Firefighter Scheme
On 11th May 2021 the Morrison Government announced in its Federal Budget 2021-22 a financial and health support package for ADF Firefighters who served at the RAAF Base Point Cook Fire Training School between 1st January 1957 and 31st December 1986.
The ADF Firefighter Scheme, as it is to be known, is in recognition of the potential for health effects from being exposed to a wide range of hazardous substances during historical fire training, when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was not of the same standard available today.
The Air Force Association argued on the basis of the hazardous chemicals detected at Point Cook Fire Training School and potential for exposure due to a lack of adequate PPE, that there was a likelihood for a risk of serious health issues. The Government recognises the risks faced by these firefighters and the limitations in evidence available to support claims.
The Air Force Association is grateful to the Government and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) for providing a remedy for these veterans.
The full article contains details of eligibility dates, FAQs, conditions covered by the ADF Firefighter Scheme and more.
Air Force Association Submission to the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
The Air Force Association provided its submission for the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide 0n 20 May 2021 The submission included suggestions into the Terms of Reference itself and also specific issues raised by Association members. You can read the AFA’s full submission by clicking on the image below.
Face-to-face Veteran Access Network (VAN) Services Have Resumed (May 2021)
Support and services for veterans and their families are returning to normal.
Support and services for veterans and their families are returning to normal, with the reopening of the face-to-face Veteran Access Network (VAN) shopfronts and offices around the country from today. Veterans and their families can access these face-to-face services without the need for a booked appointment.
As the offices and shopfronts reopen, the veteran community is asked to be mindful of current health and social distancing recommendations when attending. DVA will continue to uphold the recommended measures to ensure the health and safety of all.
Veterans and their families are still strongly encouraged to use telephone and online services where by possible by logging into their MyService account, by lodging an online enquiry at www.dva.gov.au, or by calling us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
Further enquiries: please contact the Veterans Access Network on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
Interim Response to Productivity Commission Report - Oct 2020
ESO Response To Ministerial Statement on Veterans and their Families - Sept 2017
Summary Conclusion: “The Minister in his statement of 14 August 2017 expressed the need for the veteran community to speak with one voice. This is a noble expectation that the major ex-service organisations are working hard to achieve. For this to evolve there will have to be active government support and resources to bolster the ability of ex-service organisations that are predominately volunteer in nature relying on membership subscriptions and donations from the general public to sustain their operations.
Signed on behalf of the Defence Community speaking as one voice.”
Read the full response below:
Open Arms was founded by Vietnam Veterans. It is a Department of Veterans’ Affairs support service that operates 24/7 providing assistance to current and former serving ADF members and their families.
COVID-19 has added another level of stress to our daily lives, so it is understandable calls to Open Arms have increased over the last few months. No one should feel alone in their attempt to cope with stress, relationship issues, grief, depression and loneliness, anxiety, trauma and PTSD.
Call Open Arms 24 hr hotline at 1800 011 046. Go to https://www.openarms.gov.au/who-we-help
for details on the range of support services offered by this wonderful organisation.