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.