Petition - Fair Compensation for our Most Disabled Veterans

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TPI v2The Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen & Women (TPI), is petitioning the Prime Minister to restore the economic loss component of the Veteran’s Special Rate (SR) and TPI compensation payments to 100% of the tax  adjusted minimum wage.
There are two categories of compensation for Disabled Veterans, those who are fully able to engage in income producing work and those who are unable to work more than 10 hours a week . The latter are the Special Rate / Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (SR/TPI) disabled Ex-Servicemen and Women. Their compensation payment is made up of two components:

  1. for their pain and suffering and
  2. for their ‘Economic Loss’ by their limited ability to work. An amount which enables them to maintain a reasonable standard of living

The ‘Economic Loss’ component has been so eroded over time that the present amount of approximately 65% of Australia’s Minimum Wage does not maintain for them a reasonable standard of living.
 

The TPI Federation wants the Government to immediately restore the reasonable standard of living criteria by maintaining  the economic loss component at the minimum wage level to remain relevant to the Australian community wage/income levels and standard of living.

Australians expect their Parliament to keep their then 2016 Prime Minister Billy Hughes's Promise "that we will look after" Defence Personnel who are injured or wounded in the course of their duties protecting the Nation.

Read the Petition here.

Please sign and share it with others to show your support to our most disabled veterans and their families.

For further information visit the TPI Federation's Website, FaceBook and Twitter

ADSO Media Statement - ‘IT’S TIME’ to Stump Up for Our Service Men and Women and Veterans NOW

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24 May 2016

The Defence Force Welfare Association, together with its partners in the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) (1) comprising some 90,000 members, are beginning to wonder whether the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, and the veterans’ community, are in a policy free zone leading up to the forthcoming election.

As a combined voice those Associations are looking for policy initiatives from all political parties that would provide some redress of the concerns expressed to the Government and Opposition parties over the last many years.

Instead of positive policies we see;
1. Government wastefully spending millions fighting veterans’ claims most of which are ultimately proven to be valid. Such disputes almost invariably lead to depression, high levels of stress and adverse mental outcomes.
2. Government and Defence failing to fully recognize that many ADF members who took Mefloquine may have suffered physical and mental harm. They need reassurance that the Government will take positive and proactive action to survey those who were administered this drug and provide no questions asked health support to combat the impacts of this drug. It’s Time to actively support them and their families in every way possible to ensure their physical and mental health needs are met.
3. Government allowing the Veteran Disability Pensions to be reduced in relative value at the expense of our disabled veterans.
4. Government reducing the value of ADF superannuation by deliberately discounting the indexation of MSBS and DFRB/DFERDB superannuation payments, not to mention the use of 50-year old life tables to reduce DFRDB superannuation payments.
5. Government resisting the provision of hearing appliances to meet the identified clinical need of veterans with complex hearing loss requirements.

Our service personnel have made a major contribution to Nation’s security and freedom since federation but governments over the years have fallen well short of their obligations to them. This reinforces the Government's need to recognize the special compact between the Nation and its service personnel with an ‘Australian Military Accord’.

It’s Time for all political parties to release their veterans’ policies NOW.

Contacts
ADSO Campaign Co Directors: Ted Chitham 0418 733 887 and Alf Jaugietis 0438 282 284
ADSO National Spokesman David Jamison 0416 107 557
 

(1) The Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA), Naval Association of Australia (NAA), RAAF Association (RAAFA), Royal Australian Regiment Corporation (RARC), Australian Special Air Service Association (ASASA), Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA), the Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Service Men and Women, the Fleet Air Arm Association of Australia, Partners of Veterans Association of Australia, Royal Australian Armoured Corps Corporation (RAAC), the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia (NMBVAA), Defence Reserves Association (DRA), Australian Gulf War Veterans Association, Australian Commando Association, War Widows Guild, Military Police Association Australia (MPAA) and the Australian Army Apprentices Association.

ADSO MEDIA STATEMENT - FEDERAL BUDGET 2016 VETERANS' HEALTH THE KEY OUTCOME

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In a budget that was mostly positive for veterans, the Alliance of Defence Service Organisation (ADSO) welcomes the extension of eligibility for nonliability health care, including Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling support, to all current and former ADF members for the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse.

The partnering with the Kookaburra Kids Foundation will also be welcomed by defence veterans ’families with serving and former ADF members affected by mental illnesses.

We remain disappointed that no provision has been provided to rectify the many discriminatory provisions of existing military superannuation schemes, nor action to stop the erosion of the value of veterans’ disability pensions.

The move to review the culture and processes of the Department of Veterans’Affairs to become less process focussed and more veterans centric has our strong support. However we strongly advocate that along with this review there should be a move to a single uncomplicated military compensation and rehabilitation system to replace the existing complex arrangements.

ADSO now looks forward to early policy statements impacting serving and former ADF members and their families from the Government, Opposition, the other Parties and the Independents so that our members and supporters can make informed judgements at the ballot box on the 2nd July.

Contacts
ADSO Campaign Co Directors Ted Chitham (0418) 733 887 Alf Jaugietis (0438) 282 284
ADSO National Spokesman David Jamison (0416) 107 557
http://adso.org.au

Department of Veterans' Affairs Federal Budget 2016 - 2017

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Comment
"In a budget that was mostly positive for veterans, ADSO welcomes the extension of eligibility for non-liability health care, including Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling support, to all current and former ADF members for the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse.
The partnering with the Kookaburra Kids Foundation to develop a pilot for children of families of serving and former ADF members affected by mental illnesses is a good initiative which we welcome.
The move to review the culture and processes of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to become less process focussed and more veterans centric has our strong support. 
We remain disappointed that no provision has been provided to rectify the many discriminatory provisions of existing military superannuation schemes, nor action to stop the erosion of the value of veterans’ disability pensions."

DVA Outcome Statements
1. Maintain and enhance the financial wellbeing and self-sufficiency of eligible persons and their dependants through access to income support, compensation, and other support services, including advice and information about entitlements.
2. Maintain and enhance the physical wellbeing and quality of life of eligible persons and their dependants through health and other care services that promote early intervention, prevention and treatment, including advice and information about health service entitlements.
3. Acknowledgement and commemoration of those who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations through promoting recognition of services and sacrifice, preservation of Australia’s wartime heritage, and official commemorations.

Specific Budget Measures (Reference - Budget Paper No 2 - Part 2 Expense Measures)

Business case for veteran centric reform
The Government will provide $24.8 million over two years from 2015 16 to develop a second pass business case to simplify and streamline the Department of Veterans' Affairs business processes and replace legacy Information and Communication Technology systems.
The development of the second pass business case will outline how to best deliver services to veterans and their dependents which are more veteran centric, efficient, accurate and reliable

Improving processing systems
The Government will provide $23.9 million over two years from 2016 17 to improve the operation and sustainability of the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) existing Information and Communication Technology systems. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Human Services.
This measure will strengthen DVA's processing systems, which support the delivery of services to veterans.

Establishing a Single Appeal Path under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004
The Government will provide $0.3 million over four years from 2016 17 to implement a single appeal path for decisions made under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 in order to streamline and simplify the appeals process for applicants. A single appeal path will provide discretionary powers to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to award costs in most circumstances.

Incapacity Payments — improved support for veterans
The Government will provide $5.7 million over four years from 2016 17 to align the end date of veterans' incapacity payments with the incremental increase to the Age Pension qualifying age and to reduce unnecessary financial hardship for veterans and their dependents by providing eligible discharged veterans with an interim incapacity payment at the level of their regular weekly salary while their actual incapacity benefit is calculated.
This measure stems from the implementation of reforms in response to the review of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 completed in 2011.

Mental Health Treatment for Current and Former Members of the Australian Defence Force — improved access
The Government will provide $37.9 million over four years from 2016 17 to extend access to certain mental health services on a non liability basis to all current and former permanent Australian Defence Force (ADF) members irrespective of their date, duration or type of service. Eligible services will include treatment for post traumatic stress and depressive disorders. Current and former ADF members, including victims of abuse in the ADF, will be able to apply for treatment without needing to obtain a formal diagnosis beforehand.

New Veteran Public Hospital Pricing Agreements
The Government will achieve efficiencies by adopting the National Efficient Price, which is calculated by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, for funding to the States and Territories for veterans' services in public hospitals. This will not impact on hospital services provided to veterans.
The savings from this measure are not for publication (nfp) due to continuing negotiations with State and Territory governments.
The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to fund policy priorities in the Veterans' Affairs portfolio.

Refurbishment of War Graves and Memorials
The Government will provide $7.5 million over four years from 2016 17 to enable the Office of Australian War Graves to undertake the following refurbishment projects:
• rebuild 1,000 existing war graves which have been irreparably damaged;
• restore more than 2,800 grave plaques in the Lae War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea;
• enhance the safety of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum in Thailand; and
• conduct a scoping study for the refurbishment of the Australian War Memorial in London, including urgent remedial work.

Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme — new listings and price amendments
The Government will provide $0.3 million over four years from 2016 17 for new listings on the Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (the Schedule) and for price amendments for a range of medicines which are already listed on the Schedule.
The new listings and price amendments have been recommended by the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Reference Committee, which advises on the clinical appropriateness of items to be made available under the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS).
The RPBS was established to meet the specific clinical needs of veterans with health conditions arising from war or military service.

Reversal of Decision to Remove Backdating of Veterans' Disability Pension Claims
The Government will provide $37.8 million over four years from 2016 17 to reverse the 2014 15 Budget measure titled Veterans' Disability Pensions commencement of payments from date of claim that removed the backdating of payments to veterans under the Veterans' Disability Pension.

Spirit of ANZAC Centenary Experience Travelling Exhibition — additional funding
The Government will provide an additional $10.0 million in 2016 17 to support the travelling exhibition of Australia's involvement in the First World War and the Century of Service of Australia's armed forces in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
The cost of this measure will be offset by redirecting funding from existing resources within the Department of Defence.

Support Services for Children of Veterans
The Government will provide $2.1 million over two years from 2016 17 to the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation to provide services to the children of current and former Australian Defence Force members who have been affected by mental illness.

Veteran Suicide Awareness and Prevention Programs — continuation of Operation Life
The Government will provide $1.0 million over four years from 2016 17 to continue the Operation Life suicide awareness and prevention workshops for the veteran community. These workshops increase awareness of suicide risk and the importance of early intervention, with the aim of preventing suicide amongst veterans.

Veterans' Review Board — case management system and alternative dispute resolution
The Government will provide $2.7 million over four years from 2016 17 to implement a new case management system and to roll out Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes for the Veterans' Review Board (VRB).
The national roll out of ADR will enable appeals to the VRB to be resolved through a dispute resolution process without the need for a formal hearing, improving the timeliness and responsiveness of review finalisation.

DVA Minister Release - Delivering on Mental Health and Enhanced Support for Veterans

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In the 2016–17 Budget, the Turnbull Government’s focus is on ensuring the mental health needs of our veterans are met through early intervention strategies, as well as improving our capability to provide better customer service and support for veterans and their families, now and into the future.

The 2016–17 Budget provides $37.9 million to extend the non-liability health care initiative, which expands eligibility for treatment of mental health conditions to all current and former permanent members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), irrespective of how long or when they served, or the type of service.

Dan TehanThe Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan, today said eligibility for early access to mental health treatment had been streamlined for permanent ADF members.

“This means that anyone who has ever served in the ADF permanent forces will be eligible for treatment for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and alcohol and substance abuse,” Mr Tehan said.

“These eligible veterans will receive a Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) White Health Card, which provides additional benefits including access to counselling from the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service.

“We recognise that current and former serving personnel may develop these conditions and that the earlier an individual seeks treatment, the more effective the likely health and other outcomes. Funding for mental health treatment is demand-driven and not capped—if an eligible person requires treatment, it is funded.

“In addition, we have extended funding for veteran suicide awareness and prevention workshops. The Government will provide $1.0 million to continue training members of the broader ex-service community to recognise and assist those at risk of suicide, and to pilot a new suicide prevention initiative."

The Turnbull Government will not proceed with the 2014–15 Budget measure to end the three month backdating of veterans’ disability claims, reinstating funding of $37.8 million over the forward estimates.

“I have been working closely with the ex-service organisations and this 2014–15 Budget measure raised considerable concern in the veteran community. I am pleased that this measure will not proceed, allowing for veterans to receive a disability pension that is backdated three months from the receipt date of the claim to DVA,” Mr Tehan said.

“Since becoming Minister for Veterans’ Affairs another major issue raised with me by ex-service organisations is the delays processing claims because of the outdated DVA ICT systems.

“This Government continues to listen to the needs of our veteran community, particularly the need to decrease claims processing times and improve support systems. “This is why we are investing a total of $24.8 million to design a transformation program that aims to deliver better customer service for veterans, underpinned by better processes and technology.”

A major overhaul of DVA’s ICT systems would underpin significant improvements to the way the department conducts its business and, consequently, provides services to veterans and their families.

“In addition, $23.9 million has been allocated in the Budget to enable DVA to maintain its critical compensation processing systems while developing the detailed transformation program,” Mr Tehan. said

“In developing the plan, the aim will be to revolutionise the way DVA interacts with, and delivers support and services to veterans and their families for decades to come.”

Mr Tehan also acknowledged the service and sacrifice of current and former serving ADF members and veterans, who have defended our values and freedoms.}

“It is important that we acknowledge our veterans in a respectful way through commemorative services, maintenance of war graves and memorials, and cultural and educational activities,” Mr Tehan said. “This is why the Turnbull Government’s 2016–17 Budget is providing $7.5 million to refurbish and rebuild 3,800 war graves and memorials that have deteriorated in Australia and Papua New Guinea, and to undertake essential safety and maintenance work at the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum in Thailand to accommodate the significant number of people who visit this commemorative site.”

Additional Bdgeut measures for veterans include:

• $5.5 million to ensure that eligible veterans receive incapacity payments through to ‘pension age’ as it progressively advances to 67 years in July 2023

• $2.7 million for a new case management system for the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) that will streamline processes and reduce backlogs by allowing veterans to lodge appeals, manage them, and monitor their real-time progress electronically.

• the national rollout of a Veterans’ Review Board alternative dispute resolution model that has been successfully trialled in NSW/ACT, that saw 57 per cent of applications finalised without the need for a full hearing and, being finalised within two months rather than the usual 12 months.

• $2.1 million for the Kookaburra Kids Foundation to support children whose parent/s are a serving ADF member or veteran affected by mental illness, including PTSD.

 • $10 million to support the Spirit of ANZAC Centenary Experience travelling exhibition of Australia’s involvement in the First World War and subsequent Century of Service of Australia’s Armed forces in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Media enquiries: Minister Tehan’s Office: 0415 566 976 Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

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