Perth charity Bravery Trust steps in to avoid pauper funeral for military veteran

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Kate Campbell, PerthNow Sunday Times
 July 23, 2017 

IT was a travesty narrowly avoided — an ex-soldier estranged from his family who had taken his own life almost ending up in a pauper’s grave because no one would pay for his funeral.

That was until Perth-based charity Bravery Trust stepped in to ensure this man — who had served his country, but like many others had returned home broken, damaged and fighting his own internal war — received a proper farewell.

They even bought replica medals for his teenage sons, which they proudly wore to his funeral and promised to wear on Anzac Day.

Even though it was not strictly in Bravery Trust’s charter, when chairman Peter Fitzpatrick heard about how the Government and 12 other military charities had declined to help, his first thought at the prospect of this veteran being buried in a cardboard box was: “Not on our watch.”

“How can you say someone is not in need if they’re going to be put in a pauper’s grave when they’ve served their country?” he said.

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Peter Fitzpatrick, chairman of Bravery Trust, a charity that gives urgent financial aid to veterans in crisis. Picture: Daniel Wilkins

Sadly, this man’s demise is not isolated and he’s one of dozens of veterans who have taken their own lives so far this year.

There have been 325 confirmed suicides of people with at least one day of service with the Australian Defence Force between 2001 and 2015.

Mr Fitzpatrick estimated that figure would be more than 400 by now — 10 times the number of soldiers killed in battle over the same period — and more than 40 suicides alone so far this year.

Bravery Trust was one of more than 400 organisations and people to make a submission to a Senate inquiry into suicide by veterans, which was prompted by an investigation by The Sunday Times one year ago. A report on its findings is due next month.

Bravery Trust, which started in Perth in 2012 and is lesser-known than other military charities such as the RSL and Legacy, is an urgent financial safety net for veterans and their families, helping them pay their mortgage or rent, utility bills, children’s school fees, health expenses and providing them with Coles food vouchers.

The charity spends about $100,000 a month — or more than $1.1 million last year — to help struggling families. On top of that, it provides education and training scholarships for veterans and their partners.

Mr Fitzpatrick said it was a sad truth that we seemed to be more focused on honouring the dead than supporting the living.

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Bravery Trust - Supporting those who Serve

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Fighting for your country is hard, but the fight afterwards can be even harder.

Bravery Trust provides urgently needed financial support to our veterans and their families, who are suffering as a result of their service. The physical and mental impact of service can be overwhelming for our brave families. Help give them the support they deserve.

They gave everything for Australia. Australia, it’s time to give back to them.

READ MORE

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Tehan Media Statement - JOINT COMMUNIQUE LONDON 2017 INTERNATIONAL MINISTERIAL (5-EYES) CONFERENCE ON VETERANS’ ISSUES

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On 19 and 20 July 2017, Ministers for Defence People and Veterans from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand meet at the International Ministerial Conference on Veterans’ Issues in London.

They came together under a shared commitment to their defence and veteran communities to discuss veterans’ mental health and transition from military to civilian life.

 Over the two-day conference, the five countries identified many overlapping themes and mutual challenges, including for some nations addressing and treating post-traumatic disorder, rates of suicide and homelessness among veterans, barriers to mental health care, alternative therapies, veteran-centric approaches to the provision of services, and early intervention.

Delegates had an opportunity to hear from leading expert, Professor Sir Simon Wessely on veterans mental health challenges and were taken by the extent of the research and the key facts and findings. 

Delegates recognised that to face these challenges and progress reforms it was essential that evidence based research and data informed policy decisions and implementation. Ministers heard from clinical experts how myths about veterans' mental health were damaging efforts to encourage veterans to seek help as early as possible. They agreed that efforts must continue on improving the provision of information to the veterans community and to transform the delivery of support and services to the defence and veteran communities in all five nations.

Delegates agreed to establish a network between the five nations to share and undertake research and emerging data, confirming their continuing commitment to collaborate on strategies that recognise, support, and care for the defence and veteran communities across the five countries. The initial research that will be undertaken will look at risk assessments and prevention strategies for veterans at risk of suicide.

READ THE FULL CONNUNIQUE HERE

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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They deserted him': Veterans' department accused of contributing to digger's suicide

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The family of an army veteran who killed himself believes the rejection of his compensation claim by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) pushed him to take his own life.

Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans' Affairs Dan Tehan has told 7.30 he has now ordered the Defence Department and DVA to review their handling of the case.

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Jesse Bird, 32, took his own life last month, just weeks after losing a claim for permanent impairment he had been pursuing for almost two years.

The decision came despite DVA accepting initial liability, in August 2016, for Mr Bird's post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder and alcohol abuse.

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DVA Enews - A review of DVA's Newsletter "Vetaffairs"

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DVA e news

Read the latest edition here

A  Highlight item is DVA's invitation to you -  We’re conducting a review of Vetaffairs, and we’d like to hear from you!

Vetaffairs is DVA's newspaper, which is distributed quarterly to about 220,000 members of the veteran and ex-service communities. It includes articles about Government policies, programs and initiatives, with a strong emphasis on mental and physical health and wellbeing.

DVA is interested in how to make Vetaffairs more useful and relevant to the transitioning and contemporary ex-service communities. DVA would like to know what information you would find useful and how Vetaffairs could best deliver this to you.

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete and your responses are anonymous.

Take our short survey here

You can Vetaffairs current and past editions.online, visit www.dva.gov.au/vetaffairs.

To subscribe to the print edition or audio CD version of Vetaffairs, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Other items in this  e-news edition include:

Gold Cards for BCOF and BNT. As a result of a 2017–18 Budget measure, Gold Cards will be provided to both the surviving Australian participants of the British Nuclear Test (BNT) program in Australia, and Australian veterans who served as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) during the occupation of Japan immediately following the Second World War.

70 years of international peacekeeping.  In September this year, a National Service of Commemoration will be held in Canberra to mark 70 years of Australia’s involvement in international peacekeeping.

Tehan Media Release - International conference to focus on veterans’ mental health

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Ministers from five countries, including Australia, will meet in London this week to explore challenges faced by contemporary veterans, and how governments can improve support services to help them achieve a fulfilling post-service life.

Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister Dan Tehan said the International Ministerial Conference on Veterans’ Issues would provide an opportunity to gain insights, in particular, into how our partner nations – Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States – deal with mental health issues and suicide prevention.

“As well as learning from the experiences of other nations, Australia will contribute significantly to conference discussions, with presentations on the topics of Barriers to effective mental health care and Current rehabilitation initiatives and proactive intervention for veterans,” Mr Tehan said.
“Ensuring we meet the mental health needs of those who have served our country, and their families, is a fundamental priority for the Turnbull Government.
“We recognise the importance of veterans seeking treatment as early as possible to achieve the best recovery outcomes, which is why in the 2016 Budget the Government expanded eligibility for non-liability health care for certain mental health conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse to anyone with one day of full time service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).”

In the 2017–18 Budget the Turnbull Government expanded this to cover all mental health conditions.
These arrangements mean there is no requirement to establish a causal link between a person’s military service and a mental health condition. Treatment is available to anyone who has served one day full-time in the ADF.
Treatment is fully funded and uncapped – if an eligible veteran needs treatment, the Government will pay for it.
“One suicide is one too many and being transparent about the mental health challenges facing serving and ex-serving Australian Defence personnel is vital,” Mr Tehan said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2015 there were more than eight deaths by suicide in Australia each day. Tragically serving and ex-serving Defence personnel are not immune from this.

In seeking to further address this issue, the Government commissioned the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to provide the first accurate, robust data ever produced on suicide among the serving, reserve and ex-serving populations.

This work was done independently of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and has produced figures on ADF and veteran suicide based on information provided by state and territory coroners.

The Government also commissioned the National Mental Health Commission to review the suicide and self-harm prevention services available to former ADF members and their families. This helped inform the allocation of new funding of $58.6 million in the recent Budget for a range of new mental health initiatives.

Mr Tehan said that as a result of these studies we have a greater understanding of where and how to help those who are struggling, but as always there is more work to be done.

Statistics relating to Australia’s approach that will be shared at the conference, include:
• Between 2001 and 2015 there were 325 certified suicide deaths among people with at least one day of ADF service. In 2015 there were 25 certified suicide deaths among ex-serving Defence personnel.
• Between 2001 and 2015, there were 166 certified suicide deaths among ex-serving Defence personnel. Ex-serving men aged 18–24 were at particular risk—two times more likely to die from suicide than Australian men of the same age.
• Service characteristics that may be associated with the higher rate of suicide in ex-serving men included: involuntary discharge—particularly medical discharge, short length of service (less than one year) and rank other than a commissioned officer.
• 4,414 veterans had access to PTSD treatment under non-liability health care provisions as at 31 March 2017.
• 1,599 veterans had access to alcohol dependence and abuse treatment under non-liability health care provisions as at 31 March 2017.
• With regard to Australia’s longest running military conflict, the war in Afghanistan, DVA has accepted the claims of 1,590 veterans with service-related PTSD since 11 October 2001. The total number of claims determined was 1,634.
• DVA has also accepted the claims of 543 veterans with service-related alcohol dependency and abuse since 11 October 2001. The total number of claims determined was 576.

Mr Tehan said continuing research and engagement across Australia with ex-service organisations, Defence organisations and with partner countries was an important part of the Government’s action on improving veterans’ mental health and reducing the incidence of suicide among current and former members of the ADF.

“The Government is committed to addressing suicide and the devastating impact it has on our community. We all have a role to play in encouraging anyone, including our ex-serving men and women, to seek assistance when they need it,” Mr Tehan said.

Note: An individual can submit a claim for more than one condition. There is an overlap between claims for PTSD and alcohol dependency.

18 July 2017

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Amelia Gard, 0428 262 894
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.

VIDEO - #VETERANS CLAWBACK - MILITARY SUPERANNUATION INVALIDITY TAX ISSUE

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The background to this matter and subsequent developments can be followed here:

#VETERANS CLAWBACK - MILITARY SUPERANNUATION INVALIDITY TAX ISSUE

TAX TREATMENT OF VETERAN INVALIDITY BENEFIT PAYMENTS – DOES IT AFFECT YOU?

#VETERANS CLAWBACK - ABC RADIO INTERVIEW OF COL RAY MARTIN (RETD) BY STEVE AUSTIN. This includes call backs from  effected veterans

#VETERANS CLAWBACK - ABC RADIO INTERVIEW OF DAVID JAMISON (DFWA) BY STEVE AUSTIN. This includes call back from others including the DVA Minister. 

COALITION MEDIA RELEASE - TAXATION TREATMENT OF SUPERANNUATION INCOME STREAMS

The DVA Minister has briefed the ALP's Shadow Minister on the matter. We await the ALP's response

Forces gear up to combat regional terror threats

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Forces gear up to combat regional terror threats

RORY CALLINAN The Australian July 14, 2017

It’s the largest amphibious assault for Australian troops since WWII but the generals are hoping Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017 delivers another first in proving capability to deploy an emergency “9/11” style force to respond to insurgencies or other regional emergencies.

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Australian troops hit the beaches during Exercise Talisman Sabre, at Shoalwater Bay, in central Queensland.

With a deadly battle raging in the southern Philippines between government troops and Islamic State fighters, and North Korea’s military reach increasing, the joint exercise is a dry run for the Aust­ralian military to deploy a force modelled on US Marines expedit­ionary units.

Says Major General Fergus “Gus” McLachlan: “This is the sort of capability that government could deploy around the region.

“So instead of just flying in a small training team, we can take a combat team and trail alongside our partners Malaysia, Singapore and up into Hawaii, and so we will be able to bring a capacity into the region that is unprecedented.”

Asked if the operation was a reaction­ to trouble spots such as The Philippines, Major General McLachlan said it was not his place to say but it was about having options. “All I can say, and my job is the force generator for the army, (is) that what things like The Philippines remind us of is that there is still a business model where you need a modern, well-equipped army with a range of capabilities,” the head of Forces Command said during a briefing at the exercise site at Shoalwater Bay, about 80km north of Rockhampton.

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Australian troops hit the beaches during Exercise Talisman Sabre, at Shoalwater Bay, in central Queensland.

“How a government chooses to use that strategy is their business but it’s our job to give them a range of capability.” He stressed the increasing threats facing the region.

“Your adversary is getting more and more dangerous. The things that only used to be accessible to states at the high end of cyber capability, highly precise letha­l weapons, are now available to everybody,” he said. “Sadly, we are in a competition where the ­adversary gets more capable.

“Even ISIL (Islamic State), we call them hacker makers. They already­ operate in cyber space, not at a sophisticated level but at a mid level that can disrupt operations, they can make armed UAS (unmanned­ aerial systems) that can drop bombs, they have effect­ively created precision weapons.

‘‘So that’s a hybrid non-state adversary.”

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Australian troops hit the beaches during Exercise Talisman Sabre, at Shoalwater Bay, in central Queensland.

While part of the joint US, Australian and New Zealand exercise is based around a field training ­exercise, with a force assault from the ocean to take on an enemy based on land in a conventional format at Shoalwater Bay, the planners have added an asymmetrical aspect including cyber warfare, potential insurgents ­hidden among a civilian popul­ation, and civilians being used as shields.

The exercise involves 33,000 Australian and US military personnel undertaking a series of training exercises involving special forces operations, amphibious landings and maritime operations, and runs for more than a month.

OPINION - ADF must back those who serve

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Ross Eastgate, Defence columnist for the Townsville Bulletin opines on this subject 13 July 2017

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"As the ABC for whatever reason selectively leaks socalled ‘secret’ reports of investigations into alleged ADF special forces activities in Afghanistan, the ADF leadership is conspicuous by its silence.

Reports the ADF Inspector General (IGADF) and the ADF Investigative Service (ADFIS) are investigating fatal incidents involving civilians in Afghanistan have ignited conflicting reactions.

According to some reports there were concerns within the ADF special forces community some individuals had caused unnecessary deaths of noncombatant Afghanis, including children.

Others are apparently concerned at what they regard as unnecessary scrutiny of events which are an unfortunate and not always avoidable consequence of combat.

ADF afghan

Continuing media speculation about whether ADF personnel acted appropriately or not in Afghanistan is unhelpful on many levels.

It provides daily fodder for discussion in mosques and schools in Australia and Afghanistan, giving succour to those we are fighting.

If ever there was a time for the risk averse, PR driven defence hierarchy to give clear support to those it expects to take the risks, it is now.

If the outcome of current investigations improves the way Australian forces operate the exercise will be worthwhile.

Any punitive outcome would be a betrayal of those who serve

READ MORE.

DVA Minister Media Release - Increasing veterans’ workforce participation

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Increasing veterans’ workforce participation

Dan Tehan
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today said that more veterans could now access the Special and Intermediate Rate of Disability Pension as a result of a 2017-18 Budget initiative.

The eligibility criteria for the Special and Intermediate Rate of Disability Pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 has been amended to remove work history restrictions for veterans aged 65 and over.

“The amendment removes the requirement for veterans to have worked continuously for 10 years with the same employer,” Mr Tehan said. 
“For self-employed veterans, it removes the requirement to have worked a minimum of 10 years in the same profession, trade, vocation or calling.
“This provides more flexibility for veterans to change employers or employment and better reflects the modern work environment.
“This Budget measure is part of a suite of initiatives being implemented to streamline access to incapacity payments, amend outdated legislation and improve rehabilitation outcomes for veterans.”

For more information on the 2017-18 Budget measures, visit the DVA"s website  here 

Media enquiries: Minister Tehan’s Office: Amelia Gard, 0428 262 894 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.

 

OPINION - GRAHAM RICHARDSON :Our nation’s finest now suffering in silence as suicide rates rise

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The Australian July 9, 2017

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Among other things, Townsville is a garrison town. If soldiers and their families are doing it tough in a city where unemployment is more than 11 per cent, twice the national average, resources here are really stretched to try to give them support.

Too many veterans are falling through the cracks here and in the rest of the country. In a city like this the result of the lousy effort we have made to look after those who have served their country in war zones from Korea to Malaya, to Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia and Timor is broken marriages, domestic violence, homelessness and, worst of all, high rates of suicide.

In raw numbers there are more than 10,000 army and airforce personnel in Townsville and an even greater number of veterans and their families.

Soldiers have different reactions to post traumatic stress disorder but few veterans are unaffected.

It is difficult to track the number of suicides because while the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has 300,000 on their books, there are twice that number not in the system.

Veteran support groups have great difficulty in getting exact numbers of suicides. The number most widely used is 78 last year with 39 so far this year meaning little or no ­improvement this year.

I took an interest in this problem and spoke to a number of veterans about two years ago. Sadly while I communicated with two veterans affairs ministers, I achieved little because I spent the last eight months in hospital after my cancer operation and then had a long recovery. I spoke to men who lived as hermits, abused drugs and alcohol, who had no real hope of being in a good enough mental state to be able to work.

All had one thing in common — they complained the DVA treated too many of them very poorly indeed. When I put some complaints to Stuart Robert during his short tenure as minister, there was some improvement in the way the department treated its clients. But it wasn’t long before their behaviour regressed and I wasn’t around to push the envelope a bit further.

Some 11 months ago the Prime Minister announced a trial of methods to reduce the number of suicides. At the time it was deemed a “priority”. It is only over the last month or so that any sign of the promised “priority” trial has been detected. The announcement came just days before a big article on soldier suicides was about to appear. Therein lies the problem. Taking care of veterans is only ­important when the lack of decent care has a light shone upon it.

Politicians love to stand next to the troops when the cameras are rolling. They bask in the glory that always surrounds those courageous enough to fight for their country. When there are no lights or cameras though, the easiest Australians to forget are the very same ones the pollies love to be seen to support.

Australia is welshing on its debt to our veterans and it’s about time we paid up. If there are real policies to be developed on this front, it would not be a bad idea to throw some of the money in the direction of Townsville where soldiers, veterans and their families make up more than 20 per cent of the population.

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Coalition Media Release - TAXATION TREATMENT OF SUPERANNUATION INCOME STREAMS

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The Hon Dan Tehan Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
and
The Hon Kelly O'Dwyer Minister for Revenue & Financial Services

TAXATION TREATMENT OF SUPERANNUATION
INCOME STREAMS

It has been a longstanding feature of the Australian superannuation system that military personnel and military invalidity pensioners are subject to tax on their superannuation income streams. Under the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation system, payments made before preservation age are treated as income and taxed accordingly.

Before the 2016-17 Budget, some superannuants were using a loophole to reduce their tax obligations on their superannuation income streams by electing to treat their income as a series of lump sum payments. Elsewhere in the tax system similar attempts to reduce tax are not sanctioned and the enabling loopholes are closed.

The Government announced on 3 May 2016 as part of the 2016-17 Budget that this loophole would be closed from 1 July 2017. At this time not one military invalidity pensioner or military personnel was using this loophole.

Only after the Budget announcement was made, a small number of military invalidity pensioners decided to change their arrangements to utilise the loophole, and reduce their tax obligations, prior to its closure.

Since September 2016, around 390 out of 11,800 military invalidity pension recipients have elected to make use of the loophole.

None of the individuals who elected to access the loophole will be subject to any back payment of tax, however they will no longer be able to use the loophole from 1 July 2017.

This change only impacts the way benefits provided by the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation are treated, not benefits provided by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The Government provides more than $11 billion annually in pensions and services to veterans and their families. This year’s Budget provided a significant increase in funding of $350 million in support of veterans.

The Government is continuing to work with veterans and other interested parties in clarifying this issue.

The Government has offered a briefing to the Opposition on this matter and they have agreed to take up our offer.

The Government greatly values the service of all military personnel and acknowledges the dedication and sacrifices they and their families make every day in order to keep our nation safe.

Media enquiries:
Gerard McManus 0477 391 580 (O’Dwyer)
Amelia Gard 0428 262 894 (Tehan)

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 Clawback - ABC Radio Interview of David Jamison (DFWA) by Steve Austin

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This ABC Brisbane Radio 612 4QR's Steve Austin interview of David Jamison (DFWA) today (Friday 7th July) continues on from yesterday's program. Unexpectantly DVA Minister Dan Tehan calls in to explain the matter.

This is another must listen to radio broadcast

Steve Austin's introduction start at 15:35minutes

David Jamison commences at 18:26 minutes to end  at 29:39 minutes: 

Dan Tehan commences at 37:16 minutes and ends at 47:01 minutes:

ALP Media Release - GOVERNMENT MUST PROVIDE CLARITY TO VETERANS’ COMMUNITY

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ALP Media release

Senator Katy Gallagher (Shadow Minister for Small Business and  Financial Services) 
and
The Hon Amand Rishworth MP (Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs)

Labor is growing increasingly concerned of reports Government changes to superannuation legislation will adversely impact a number of veterans.

Labor has sought an urgent briefing from the Government on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Superannuation) Regulations 2017 and its expected impact on veterans.

Whilst the Government advised during Senate estimates there were no military pensioners taking their pension as a lump sum at the time the change was announced, it is clear they have not taken into consideration how this change would impact those veterans’ who have since elected for this tax treatment and the financial circumstances which they now find themselves facing.

Labor has previously expressed its concerns over the lack of clear information made available and the consequences of the Government’s disallowable instrument for veterans and ex-service personnel.

It is clear this issue is causing distress in the veterans and ex-service community, with the government failing to address their concerns.

We do not want to see our veterans left worse off by the Turnbull Government.

It is incumbent on the Government to address these issues and provide clarity and transparency on this issue.

The Government must engage in proper consultation with the veterans and ex-service community to work through these unintended consequences.

THURSDAY, 06 JULY 2017

#Veterans Clawback - ABC Radio Interview of Col Ray Martin (Retd) by Steve Austin

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This ABC Brisbane Radio 612 4QR's Steve Austin interview of Col Ray Martin (Retd) (past CO 1 RAR) today highlighted the issue.

Following the interview five callers affected by the Tax legislation explain the facts of the matter and the impact on their lives.

This is a must listen to radio broadcast

Steve Austin Introduction: Start to 01.25 minutes

Ray Martin interview : From 03.24 to 23.44 minutes

Callers:
1. Shane: From 35.13 to 43.09 minutes
2. Tara : From 43.12 to 47.21 minutes
3. Stuart: From 47.23 to 54.03 minutes
4. Ian: From 54.04 to 56.51 minutes
5. Jason: From 57.45 to 64.40 minutes

A further discusion on the subject, with possible responses from the Government, is expected on the same program tomorrow (Friday) from 8.30 am 

 

 

 

 

RECENT NEWS ITEMS CONCERNING TAX TREATMENT OF VETERAN INVALIDITY BENEFIT PAYMENTS – DOES IT AFFECT YOU?

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1. The Tax changes do not affect any DVA Pension (incl TPI) in any way.

2. The Tax changes only affect those who:
• receive DFRDB or MSBS Class A or Class B Invalidity Benefits, AND
• applied for a Private Ruling from the Australian Taxation Office in the last year.

3. Only about 392 Veterans have had these Private Rulings. ComSuper should have advised them of the Tax change by now.

4. Private Rulings required a bit of complex dealings with the ATO involving your:
• providing 2 x doctors’ certificates to the ATO; and
• making a formal election to have your Invalidity Benefit payments treated as lump sum payments.

5. You would remember if you had to go through this. If you do not know about Private Rulings, then, this tax change does not affect you.


IF YOU RECEIVE DFRDB or MSBS CLASS A or B DISABILITY BENEFITS.

6. We recommend you monitor the ADSO or DFWA websites for up to date information on developments in this area of taxation of Class A and B DFRDB or MSBS Invalidity Benefits.

7. You can also get up to date information and post questions on-line by joining Facebook Groups which specialise in this area. These Groups are:
• COMSUPER-MILITARY ENTITLEMENTS, and https://www.facebook.com/groups/1098180903529690/
• ADF Invalidity Payments-Taxation Treatment. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1709523469074142/

8. Some members of these groups are actively challenging ComSuper at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Federal Court over the way ComSuper has been reporting your Invalidity Benefit payments to the ATO. ADSO is strongly supporting the actions of these groups.

9. If Court Action is successful, it is likely that many of those receiving DFRDB or MSBS Invalidity Benefits, will pay much less tax. So it pays to:
• Monitor the situation, and
• Support the Groups and ADSO organisations fighting for you.

#Veterans Clawback - Military Superannuation Invalidity Tax Issue

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#VETERANS  CLAWBACK

The background to this issue was reported here "Government Targets Comsuper Invalidity Benefits for some Veterans from 1 July this year", and here at COMSUPER - MILITARY ENTITLEMENTS

WIN TV News Townsville reported the issue last Thursday (29th June) as '  VETERANS VALUE: Concerning news for several hundred war veterans, tonight. Changes to legislation governing superannuation payments, could mean a big hit to invalid pension payments.' Watch it here

 

 

Channel 7 TV News last night (2nd July) reported that Veterans take on the Turnbull Government over changes to the way it taxes Comsuper Invalidity payments.

 

David Jamison, national spokesman for the Alliance of Defence Service Organisation (ADSO), stated that ‘Although it appears this change for veterans is an unintended consequence of a much broader taxation change, the veterans community as a whole considered it (if true) manifestly unfair. We all have the obligation to support our effected invalided veterans. We have asked the Government to ensure they will not be hit with higher taxes post 1 July 2017’. 

ADSO is consulting with the DVA Minister Dan Tehan on the issue.

 

ADSO (The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations) comprise:
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 (RAACC), the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia (NMBVAA), Defence Reserves Association (DRA), Australian Gulf War Veterans Association, Australian Commando Association, the War Widows Guild of Australia, Military Police Association Australia (MPAA), and the Australian Army Apprentices Association.

Tehan Media Release - Response to National Mental Health Commission review

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Response to National Mental Health Commission review - 30 June 2017

TehanDanThe Government is delivering improved mental health support for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families.

The Government today outlined the work it is doing on mental health and suicide prevention in its response to the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) Review into the Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Services available to current and former serving ADF members and their families.

The Government’s response is available here .

The NMHC review helped inform the Government’s action on veterans’ mental health in this year’s Budget, which included an additional $58.6 million in mental health funding.

The Government will now pay for the treatment of all mental health conditions affecting anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF. This program is fully funded and uncapped. If an eligible veteran needs treatment the Government will pay for it.

The Government will provide a further $8.5 million to expand eligibility for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) to cover partners and children of current and former ADF members who have had one day of full-time service. Importantly, this now includes ex-partners for up to five years after separation or while co-parenting a child.

Funding of $9.8 million was also provided to pilot innovative approaches to suicide prevention and enhanced support. The Mental Health Clinical Management Pilot will assess the benefits of providing intensive clinical management to help meet a veteran’s complex mental health and social needs on discharge from a mental health hospital, and a pilot expansion of the Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) program will target improved support for veterans with both chronic physical and mental health conditions.

Funding of $6.9 million was provided to improve access to incapacity payments to provide targeted ongoing support for veterans who are vulnerable to financial and employment insecurity due to the episodic nature of their mental health conditions.

The NMHC recognised the importance of a smooth transition from the ADF to
post-service life. Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) are working closely together to improve that process.

The first stage of the Early Engagement Model (EEM) commenced in December 2016, with the first 5,000 new and separating members registered. The aim of the EEM is that when a serving/former ADF member needs DVA in the future, they will already be registered as a client.

Improved transition services are also being rolled out to support ADF members and their families. The new support services include individual coaching and mentoring with a focus on helping ADF personnel find meaningful post-service employment.

The Government is also delivering its ‘No Discharge Without Documentation’ initiative that will ensure all separating members of the ADF leave with the necessary documents to make the transition phase more seamless.

The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program was launched in November 2016 with the aim of helping veterans find meaningful post-service employment and assisting business recognise the unique and valuable talents of former ADF personal.

The Government agrees with the NMHC that: “continued attention is needed to ensure efforts are effective in preventing suicide and self-harm amongst Australia’s current and former serving personnel and their families”.

Part of the Government’s evolving response to mental health challenges and suicide in the current and former ADF communities is utilising data to improve our understanding of the issue and inform policy decisions.

Later this year, the Government will release the outcomes of the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme, which is the largest study undertaken on the mental, physical and social health of current and former ADF members and their families.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today released its second tranche of data on the incidence of suicide among current and former ADF members. Their report can be read here . These figures are the first accurate, robust data ever produced on suicide among the serving, reserve and ex-serving populations.

Starting tomorrow [1 July], the AIHW and DVA will commence a three-year strategic relationship to monitor and report on the current status and future needs of veterans and their families. This work will help us to develop a more comprehensive picture of their health and welfare, and inform future policy and services.

The AIHW study is an important part of the Government’s action on improving mental health and preventing suicide among current and former ADF.

Media enquiries:
Media enquiries: Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
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.

DVA e-news June 2017 issue

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Applications open for Veterans' Health Week

This year’s Veterans’ Health Week (VHW), to be held from Saturday, 21 October to Sunday, 29 October 2017, will focus on the theme of physical activity.
During VHW, DVA will partner with ex-service organisations and community groups to highlight the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, which can help us to stay connected to others and live a happier and longer life.
IDVA can provide some funding to ex-service organisations and community groups to support VHW activities that reflect the annual theme. Applications for funding are now open until 31 July 2017.

Trial of MyService
DVA is seeking Australian Defence Force (ADF) members who enlisted after 30 June 2004 and have an injury or disease related to their ADF service to register with MyService today.

MyService is a new online service that provides an easier way for clients to get covered by DVA. For the purpose of the MyService trial, the term ‘cover’ is being used instead of ‘claim’.

75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein
DVA would like to invite the nomination of Australian veterans who served in El Alamein between 1 July and 5 November 1942 to attend a Last Post Ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein at the Australian War Memorial on 23 October 2017.

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