Tehan Media Release - $31 million in additional funding for veteran mental health

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24 October 2017

The Government will provide an additional $31 million to support veterans’ mental health as part of its response to the Senate Inquiry into veterans’ suicide.

As the Prime Minister has said, we best honour the diggers of 1917 by ensuring our veterans in 2017 receive the support they need and deserve. When someone stops serving their country it is their country’s turn to start serving them.

The Turnbull Government has made veterans mental health a priority. An additional $58.6 million in mental health funding was provided in this year’s Budget.

Today, the Turnbull Government commits an additional $31 million to support veterans as part of its response to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Reference’s committee report The Constant Battle: Suicide by veterans.

The Government will provide:

• $16.1 million over four years for a new Veteran Payment for financial vulnerable veterans claiming mental health conditions;

• $7.1 million over four years to extend support for families of veterans;

• $2.1 million over four years for an annual health assessment for ex-serving ADF members for the first five years post-discharge;

• $4.0 million over two years to pilot a case management service for transitioning or recently discharged ADF members;

• $1.7 million over two years to undertake a scoping study to professionalise veterans’ advocacy.

The Government has agreed to 22 of the 24 recommendations made in the Senate committee report and agreed-in-principle to the remaining two recommendations.

The Government has asked the Productivity Commission and the Australian National Audit Office to conduct reviews into the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). These independent reviews will inform further improvements to DVA processes.

Other recommendations the Government has agreed to complement work already undertaken by the Government to further support veterans, such as:

• The $166.6 million investment in the veteran centric reform program announced in this year’s budget;

• The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program launched in November last year;

• The Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission Review into the Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Services released in June 2017;

• The ongoing Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports into the incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving ADF personnel.

The Government is continuing to focus on improving the mental health services provided to our veterans. Mental health treatment works best when a veteran can get help early so the Government has made the treatment of any mental health condition free for anyone who has served one day in the fulltime ADF. The Government will now provide a DVA White Card to access mental health treatment through this program to all personnel leaving the military.

The Government would like to thank the members of the committee for their substantial work to complete this report and for their passion for improving mental health outcomes for veterans.

 

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.

VETERANS' HEALTH WEEK

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today encouraged current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and their family members to take part in events across Australia as part of the annual Veterans’ Health Week (VHW).

Mr Tehan said this year’s theme was ‘Physical Activity’ to promote the fitness, social and mental health benefits of staying active.

More than 200 events will be held across Australia from 21-29 October, with almost 14,000 veterans and their families expected to participate in various activities, including family fun days, golf, kayaking, surfing, cycling, yoga and bush walking.
“I encourage all current and former ADF members and their families to take part in a local event, get active and meet new people who share a common experience,” Mr Tehan said.
“The Government is committed to supporting the physical and mental health of our veterans. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has a range of programs in place to promote the health and wellbeing of the veteran community.”

Some of the health resources and support services include:
 The Heart Health Program which aims to help increase physical health and wellbeing through practical exercise, nutrition and lifestyle management support.

 Eligibility for a referral from a GP to see an Exercise Physiologist to help develop an exercise plan.

 The Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP) that provides access to items to help eligible veterans get back to playing sport and being active.

For more information on any of this support visit www.dva.gov.au or phone 133 254.

For information about Veterans’ Health Week 2017, including event details, visit http://www.dva.gov.au/health-and-wellbeing/health-events/veterans-health-week.
21 October 2017

 

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across
Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international:
+61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE - VETERANS

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In today's (17 October 2017) House of Representatives Questions without Notice Independent Senator Andrew Wilkie (TAS) asked the Prime Minister this question.

Hansard Reference - page 24

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:18): 

"My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, the TPI Federation has written to you repeatedly, seeking a resolution to the dreadful situation where about 28,000 totally and permanently incapacitated veterans have seen their economic loss compensation fall to just 65 per cent of the minimum wage. Prime Minister, given the gravity of this issue, and the Parliamentary Budget Office's validation of the independent analysis supporting the claim by the TPI Federation, will you now take personal responsibility and intervene to facilitate an immediate increase of $176 a week in the economic loss compensation payments to Australia's TPI veterans?" 


Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:19):

"I thank the honourable member for his question.

My grandfather was a member of the TPI Federation, and I know well the work of the federation and respect the advocacy they provide, particularly that of TPI Federation President Pat McCabe.

All Australians are immensely proud of our men and women in uniform. We thank them for their service and we owe them a debt we can never repay.

Ensuring our veterans have adequate support and compensation is a vitally important role of government and one to which I am personally deeply committed.

In gratitude for their service, the government provides $12 billion annually in pensions and services to veterans and their families.

We best honour the diggers of 1917 by providing the best support in every respect to the servicemen and servicewomen, and the veterans and their
families, of 2017.

The honourable member has raised the subject of the TPI pension in relation to the minimum wage. I can advise the honourable member that the TPI pension is currently $1,373.80 per fortnight. I'm further advised that more than 80 per cent of TPI pension recipients also receive income support payments, known as the service pension, of up to $894.40 per fortnight. It's important to recognise that the TPI pension is part of a package of benefits available to veterans, which can also include additional income support payments and medical coverage for all health conditions through the gold card.

In recognition of this important issue, I've asked the Minister for Veterans' Affairs to work with his department and the TPI Federation to analyse the basis of the federation's research and the data used in it.

I want to thank the honourable member for raising these important issues and the TPI Federation for its ongoing role in representing the interests of Australia's veterans.

My government will always do the right thing by our veterans.

I recognise there are various components to these entitlements and this compensation, but I'm less interested in the definitional distinctions, which as a former serving officer the honourable member would no doubt have a keen insight into, than I am in making sure our veterans have the support they need.

I'm also interested in making sure they have financial support that is
appropriate and commensurate with their service, that if they need medical support and treatment it is provided, and that if they need psychological support for mental illness it is provided too.

I can assure the honourable member and all our veterans that my government is committed to them, just as they were committed to our nation in their days in uniform."

ADSO is encouraged by the Prime Minister's affirmation of his Government's commitment to veterans and their families well-being and protection of their service entitlements. Thank you PM.

 

 

ADF'S WORKPLACE REMUNERATION ARRANGEMENT (WRA) DECISION 2017- 2020

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The DFRT today (11 October 2017) approved the Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) for the ADF for the three years to 2020.

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See the full determination here.

The key features of the WRA are that it:
a. provides for a three year duration, operating from 2 November 2017 to 11 November 2020;
b. provides an adjustment in the rates of salary and salary related allowances of 6 per cent over the life of the WRA via three annual installments of 2 per cent;
c. applies to all ADF members of the Permanent Forces and Reserves (excluding statutory office holders);
d. applies to salary and salary related allowances;
e. does not trade off, remove or offset any conditions of service or retention initiatives to fund the arrangement or propose to do so;
f. is based solely on the performance of the ADF and has no links to productivity offsets achieved by Defence Australian Public Service in the context of bargaining; and
g. is affordable and to be funded from within Defence’s existing budget.

The DFWA made written and oral submission to the DFRT on this matter, outlining the process it undertook to engage with members and recorded that “most of the people” who sent feedback understood the current economic climate “but made valid points nonetheless to suggest the offer may be considered inadequate compared to anticipated wage growth and cost of living pressures.”

The DFWA examined forecast inflation trends for the next three years to explain their “concern for more junior members of the ADF whose dollar increase is smaller because of their lower wage” but who “are subject to the same cost increases as higher ranking members”.

In the hearing the DFWA expanded on this stating “that while those on higher pay grades will be less vulnerable to these pressures, all will find their standard of living compromised if the projected and modest CPI increases come to pass” and that “a pay increase that fails to keep pace with inflation will eventually impact on morale, retention and recruitment and will ultimately affect the ability to deliver capability.”

In summary the DFWA stated that it gives “reluctant support” to the proposed Arrangement.

 

Tehan Media Release - Addressing the RSL National Conference

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Dan Tehan

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today told the RSL National Conference in Canberra that improvements to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would make it, “a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture”.

Mr Tehan told the conference that the Government was committed to continuing to work with the RSL, as it sought to change.

“In the case of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, our aim is to have a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture,” Mr Tehan said.

“In this year’s budget the Government made the first serious investment into the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in years, with $166.6 million to upgrade its computer systems and processes.

“Claims and wait times will be cut by this investment, making DVA a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture.

“This change at DVA will put the veteran at the centre of how the organisation operates.”

Mr Tehan also attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on Wednesday to honour the service and sacrifice of Australia’s veterans.

21 September 2017

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

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