The major health areas of focus include:
- Mental Health Disorders and rehabilitation.
- Accommodation Care of younger physically disabled veterans where there may or may not be co-existing mental illness.
- Support for Carers.
1. Mental Health Disorders and Rehabilitation
A Government-funded, national mental health rehabilitation scheme is needed for veterans suffering with chronic mental health problems.
The scheme should be based on individual case assessment and management programs and include, where necessary, accommodation assistance options..
During 2004/2006 a DVA funded veterans mental health project was conducted. Recommendation 5 of the Projects Report states "That DVA provides support, including financial support, for appropriate community accommodation models to meet the needs of veterans with mental health issues e.g. step-down accommodation for short term rehabilitation, care review/renewal and relapse support."
The need for such accommodation is also supported by the July 2006 report of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
Proposal: Early implementation of Recommendation 5: That DVA provides support, including financial support, for appropriate community accommodation models to meet the needs of veterans with mental health issues e.g. step-down accommodation for short term rehabilitation, care review/renewal and relapse support."
2.1 Health Accommodation – Younger Veterans
Within the ex-service community, a small number of veterans aged 30 to 50 are unable to live independently or with their families as a result of significant physical, medical or emotional care needs. A system is needed to ensure access to appropriate accommodation for disabled veterans who require 24-hour supported living but are too young to qualify for aged care services.
At present no agency/government department has responsibility for finding appropriate residential accommodation and associated care. This is despite the COAG meeting of 2007, at which money was allocated by all States and the Federal Government toward the construction of such a facility, that would accommodate under 50 year olds, including younger veterans. The Younger Persons in Residential Care Program has not yet delivered any significant number of places. As a result, younger people continue to be co-located in residential aged care, including in dementia units.
The need for residential accommodation must be addressed both in the short term, rehabilitation phase and also for those who require longer term supportive accommodation with mental health assistance according to a recognized care plan.
Proposal: That identified processes be established within DVA, to provide a seamless and responsive approach toward accommodating severely incapacitated young veterans.
2.2 Residential Disability Care – Younger Veterans
There are consistently reported numbers of younger veterans, most often with Gold Card entitlements, who require disability accommodation and support care.
Support for veterans in a congregate residential setting needs to be created, with DVA providing adequate capital and ongoing support for veterans who are Gold/White Card holders.
Proposal: That DVA fund the establishment of a number of services/facilities in major population centres where the bulk of the veteran population lives.
3.1 Veterans Carers
DVA Recognition of the Role of Partners Who are Carers of Disabled Veterans
Increasing numbers of veterans are being diagnosed as high care and many of these veterans are being cared for by their spouse/partner in their own home, having no wish to be placed in a care facility, particularly if they are of a younger age.
Spouses/partners who become carers give up their employment and devote their lives to care for their disabled veteran. By no longer being employed, these partners are not able to accrue superannuation to provide for their own old age. These carers deserve support to continue their caring role. There are very few carers who do not suffer ill health and/or some disability brought about by the constant care they give to their disabled veteran
As a result, the veteran could be forced into a full care facility earlier than necessary because the caregiver is not well enough to continue in her/his caring role. Eventually, the Government may be faced with the cost of caring for two instead of one.
Proposals: *That DVA be given direct responsibility for partners who are carers of disabled veterans.
*That the Government provide a Health Plan/Program for carers of veterans to enable them to continue in their caring role.
3.2 Carers Allowance Cut Offs:
· Currently Carers Allowance payment is cancelled after the veteran has been hospitalised for six weeks.
· Centrelink advises they pay for 63 days in one year with an additional 63 days (a total of 126 days) if the Veteran is transferred into an approved Aged Care Facility after their hospital stay for respite or convalescent care. As soon as they are discharged, the carer must re-apply for payment.
Proposal: That the carer allowance be suspended after 126 days. Once the veteran has been discharged and is home again the Dept can then be advised to re-start the Carer allowance from that date.
3.3 Transport Plan for carers while Veteran in Hospital
· Carers who accompany a veteran to hospital are left to find their own way home when the hospitalised and does not return with them. It is unacceptable for the partner/carer to be obliged to find their own way home.
Proposal: That DVA develop a transport plan for carers returning home from accompanying their veteran to hospital.
3.4 Subsidised Accommodation
· Many carers experience great difficulty in visiting their hospitalised veterans . Their visits are vital to the recovery and well being of the veteran.
Proposal: That subsidised accommodation be provided to enable carers to be available to veterans who are hospitalised away from their home.
3.5 Inadequate Respite Care
· The effect on the mental and physical health of many partners/carers of veterans has been profound and if the condition of the veteran deteriorates the carer then has the added burden of insufficient respite care.
· A carer is allowed only 196 hours (3.76hrs per week) of respite care per annum. This is totally inadequate when a carer is providing high level, full-time care in the home.
· While palliative care in a hospice is available, those veterans who also suffer from PTSD are often not amenable to leaving their homes.
Proposals: * That respite care be monitored by DVA, with a dedicated DVA Case Manager whose role is to tap in to any other community or government department to access additional respite care.
* That respite hours be increased to 260 per annum.
4 Departmental Responsibility
Proposal: That DVA be designated as the agency to administer the support provided to the carers of veterans.
I am an ex serving member suffering from a major depressive disorder and alcohol abuse. I have being seeing an exercise physiologists who has helped me how to handle my chronic pain from my related illnesses. I have found out today that I am no longer able to attend these weekly sessions as DVA have canned them. I am told that my trainer will supply a workout program and will confer with me monthly. DVA obviously do not understand that it is the personal interaction with these trainers for people who have PTSD and major depressive disorders that is more of a benefit than the physical aspect of the session.
Having been a medic in Vietnam I was diagnosed with severe PTSD and my Vietnamese wife whom I met while serving overseas 1969/1970 became my carer about 2002 then 2 years ago due to I believe a heart medication caused the onset of dementia and now I am her carer
We have the valuable assistance the Bethanie Group also the Silverchain, When it comes to paying for these services will DVA help?
My wife is over 65 and Vietnamese does she qualify as a Vietnam Veteran as a 12 year old she was caught in crossfire and received gun shot wounds to the legs so she was wounded in action.
Kind Regards Tony Green
I am a carer of a veteran who has such severe neuropathy he went over on his foot and injured it so badly he had to have it amputated 4 inches below the knee due to it becoming infected. When he was flown from our remote town by the RFDS to Adelaide I went on the plane with him and stayed a week in Adelaide. As I work 3 days a week I returned home at the end of the week. Prior to this I made enquiries to DVA about assistance to get home ( We live 676 klms from Adelaide) and was told there was none. Luckily my daugther came over and I came back with her, but not without cost to me. I notified Centre link about him being in hospital and the 126 days started. He has been home for a couple of weeks now as he is not able to commence Rehabilitaion until his stump fully heals. There hasnt been time to get the changes made to the bathroom to allow him to shower and as the local hospital discharged him he has had to go to a hotel, (paid for by a country health SA program) to have a shower. I am unable to lift the wheel chair into the car therefore if my son is unable to assist me we have to get a taxi back and forth to the hotel for him to have a shower. DVA are paying for the taxi fares which is just as well as they cost around $40 per day. Multiply that by 7 and thats $280 a week. We are paying the fares up front and putting in for the reimbursment. Carers are not getting enough assistance, especially financial assistance. For me to travel to Adelaide to see my husband when he goes back to Rehabilitaion I will have to pay $200 air fares to get there. Does anyone know if there is funding from somewhere to assist in travel expenses for Carers.
Having served 15 plus years in the navy and having served in both warlike and hazardous areas I developed PTSD being diagnosed with it after being medevaced from a warlike zone for physical and psyc problems. I was discharged medically on a class A scra pension. I applied to DVA for a pension and health care card. I was given a white card for treatment only and all my claims dimmised. Being spaced to the eyeballs by tricylists and doctors during this period I had panic attacks and put on weight, had no idea at times who my wife was and had huge mood swings. To cut a long story short I got divorced (found out that one after I got detoxed) and slowy made my way back to a state where I felt fairly in control. Now seeking DVA help and RSL help getting the same treatment. Now though I am not spaced to the eyeballs by doc etc. I now see through clearer eyes that the above mentioned people DONT GIVE A STUFF. I plan on handing back my medals and white card. I will also give the RSL my life membership card back ( RAS badge and RSL badge they will have to find as last ANZAC DAY they were ripped off my jacket in the RSL when getting a drink) I now consider the time I spent in service to my country a waste of my life. I just hope this will not happen to the poor Sailors I filled with navy propaganda as a recruit instructor, if so I deeply appologise.
I Strongly agree on all this, the support us EX diggers get is total disgusting, I suffer from PTSD, and have had very little support.
My Pension after 24.5 Years was less than 20,000.....who the hell designed that super plan .....Sh*& am I suppose to live on this when I reach retirement age ?????
I served overseas and did my bit , and in return what happens ...the Army washed its hands with me TOO HARD tray ........
Having just being discharged from the Airforce for PTSD and injuries incurred in Iraq I find the treatment for mental disorders must be addressed during recovery time for physical injuries.There should be no difference between the way a soldier,airman or sailor is treated.
The process should be easy and direct to make sure serving member is not put under unneccessary stress which then can lead to other mental illness.
Every manual has plain English written on it.
Lets put together a fairdinkom booklet for all including information for partners and families which is explained and given out before people are deployed and reviewed yearly
Note: When you find you have a problem you need the tools and support to fix it.
Dont forget mental illness effects not only members and ex-members but family and freinds as well
Stay safe to all
I can understand the plight of so many Australians, who have served and this includes their families. I had a small injury in 1955 during my National Service, for which after a long battle .my injury was recognised, but it cost me more than I ever received, but benefits have been so restricted that I cant even find out where to go to seek help. My "minor" injury has plagued my life for 50 odd years and I can get no assistance. I did not leave the country, but was ready to do so at any time. I detest the type of society and organisation who will pay out huge sums of money to attempt to defraud our Vetrans from care and attention. It is totally dishonest and immoral. I shall do anything in my power to assist those in need.
Regards to all
We will contact you privately to determine what assistance we may be able to offer.
It is so hard to believe that we cannot see that our veterans DESERVE the best treatment that money can buy, No Restrictions at all, they have served their country now we should willingly serve them in giving back the life that they knew before. The road is long and it is expensive but the road was long and expensive for these brave men and women who spared no expense in looking after us. Come on Australia who will look after us if we don’t. There is always lots of money available to give support to other nations and to people who come here from other nations NOW what about OUR people. Spare no expense we deserve the best to rehabilitate our people, show them that we do care and we are very thankful for their contribution their country!!!