WHAT’S NEW

New items that are significant to us as an Association will be added here for one month before they will be moved to a more appropriate page.

The following Defence Values an Behaviours were released by the Chief of Defence Force and are effective from 1 October 2020.

Added: 10 October 2020

FEDERAL BUDGET 2020-21 – VETERANS MATTERS

The following is a report from the National President on the Federal Budget 2020 on Veterans Matters.

On October 7th, I, and other Ex-Service Organisation representatives, attended a Secretary, DVA hosted Ex-Service Organisation Round Table Meeting on the Government’s 2020-21 Budget. Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, The Hon Darren Chester also attended.  Not unexpected, the Budget is heavily influenced by the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and the general wellbeing of the Australian community.  However, despite the budgetary constraints expected, the veteran community has been well supported given the circumstances.

PRESSURES ON DVA

Unlike many other government departments and agencies, DVA has a capped budget meaning it must provide cost offsets for any increases in funding. Since 2018, it has experienced a 242% increase in claims.  Complex claims have increased by 179%.  Not unexpected, ‘Open Arms’ calls have increased dramatically during the pandemic.  Secretary, DVA advised her Department’s client base has also risen by 67%. There is a myriad of other statistics, but these best provide an image of a department under pressure to provide the best possible service to veterans and their families. 

BUDGET ALLOCATION

Broken down, the allocation includes:

Additional resourcing ($64.1 million)

  1. $4.3 million to develop a data sharing and analytics solution for DVA and Defence.  This is an important initiative to expedite claims processing.
  2. $23.2 million to support DVA’s claims processing that includes the ‘purchase’ of contracting and training of claims processing staff.
  3. $36.6 mission to assist the Department in maintaining services standards.
  4. $1.1 million to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the end of WW2.

Mental Health Support for Veterans and their Families ($101.7 million)

  1. $94.3 million to increase fees by DVA to mental health, social work and community nursing providers, fee simplification and fund psychiatric training places. The increase remains short of the marketplace fee structure.  Concern was raised that DVA’s fees must be competitive to ensure services are available to veterans and their families, especially those residing in remote locations.
  2. $5.0 million to expand Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling
  3. $2.4 million to expand eligibility of the Coordinated Veterans’ Care Program to certain White Card holders.
  4. $25.9 million to increase TPI Pension and other Disability Pension payments for those who pay private rent, and to simplify payment arrangements.
  5. $1.7 million to increase support for veterans who travel for treatment in a private vehicle.  Essentially, this increase in funding is to align DRCA with MRCA travel.

Employment and Transition Measures

  1. $6.0 million to broaden and improve the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program to support veterans seeking meaningful employment.
  2. $17.7 million to establish a Joint Transition Authority (JTA) to support the 6,000 ADF members who transition each year.  The establishment of the JTA was a recommendation of the Productivity Commission that was supported by the Air Force Association and other ex-service organisations.  The JTA framework has been developed within Defence pending the Government’s formal endorsement.

GOVERNMENT’S INTERIM RESPONSE TO THE PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION INQUIRY REPORT, ‘A BETTER WAY TO SUPPORT VETERANS’

I indicated several months ago to the Association’s National Board there were indications the Government would embark on an evolutionary pathway rather than adopt a revolutionary strategy on the Productivity Commissioners’ recommendations.  Twenty-five of their 69 recommendations have been adopted.  The Minister and Secretary, DVA will be seeking ESORT input into their further examination of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry and Robert Cornall’s report into veterans’ advocacy in preparation for Budget 2021-22.

A major achievement by the Minister is the rejection of the proposed limitation on future eligibility for the Gold Card to new groups, and the proposed annual premium to be charged to Defence. 

The Government is expected to table in Parliament its interim response to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations.  Among those already mentioned, is its commitment to a stand-alone DVA with a multi-year transformation program.

DVA’S FUTURE DIRECTION AND PRIORITIES

Secretary, DVA reaffirmed her department’s commitment to:

  1. continuing to support the whole of Government response to the COVID 19 pandemic to ensure veteran support for veterans and their families
  2. continuing her department’s commitment to know, connect, support and respect veterans and their families
  3. delivering a final response to the various reports and responses dealing with veteran and family support, and transition from the ADF in preparation for Budget 2021-22
  4. planning for the 5th wave of veterans
  5. delivering international and domestic commemorations

INFLUENCE OF NATIONAL EX-SERVICE ORGANISATIONS Although the veteran community is still to see the Government’s full interim response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the veteran support system, we should feel assured national ex-service organisations and individuals in the community who provided well-argued and balanced responses to the various inquiries have influenced the Government’s decisions on the Commission’s recommendations. 

ESORT continues to have a significant influence on the veteran support system and is likely to be retained as a national voice for the various ex-service and service communities.

Added: 12 October 2020

NATIONAL SUICIDE MONITORING OF SERVICE AND EX-SERVICE ADF PERSONNEL

The information below was received via National from Liz Cosson AM CSC, Secretary, DVA on Serving and Ex-serving ADF personnel.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has today released the National Suicide Monitoring of Serving and Ex-serving Australian Defence Force Personnel: 2020 update.   

Please find below links to the following: ·       

AIHW National Suicide Monitoring of Serving and Ex-serving Australian Defence Force Personnel: 2020 update

See: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/national-suicide-monitoring-adf-2020/contents/about-this-report ·       

Direct link to the report:

See: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/64a2cab8-19ff-49aa-9390-197a1ec0b81c/aihw-phe-277.pdf.aspx?inline=true ·       

Minister Chester’s media release Statement – Report provides further understanding of defence and veteran suicide  

See: http://minister.dva.gov.au/media_releases/2020/oct/va115.htm

Added: 12 October 2020

INTERIM RESPONSE TO THE PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION REPORT

Please see Secretary, DVA’s advice below regarding the Government’s interim response to the PC Report and the independent reviews of the TIP payment.  

As foreshadowed in the ESORT Budget briefing yesterday, the Government has now tabled the interim response to the Productivity Commission’s report A Better Way to Support Veterans, and has also released the Independent Review of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) Payment. Please find below links to the following:       

Minister Chester’s media release Interim response to the Productivity Commission report and findings from the TPI Review.

See  http://minister.dva.gov.au/media_releases/2020/oct/va114.htm      

Interim response to the Productivity Commission’s report A Better Way to Support Veterans

See https://www.dva.gov.au/about-us/overview/reporting/reviews-and-reports/productivity-commission-inquiry-system-compensation        

Information sheet on the Interim response to the Productivity Commission report

See https://www.dva.gov.au/sites/default/files/interim_government_response_to_the_report_of_the_productivity_commission_-_information_sheet_a.pdf        

 Independent Review into the TPI Payment

See https://www.dva.gov.au/about-us/overview/reporting/reviews-and-reports/independent-review-tpi-payment

Added: 12 October 2020