New funding provided for establishment of Veterans’ Wellbeing Centres

The Coalition government has promised to invest $30 million into the creation of Veterans’ Wellbeing Centres that it says will bring together the key services for veterans and their families.

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The establishment of the centres is part of a $63.2 million series of initiatives that will help deliver job opportunities for veterans across the country, as well as securing health and housing services.

The new centres will integrate government and non-government support for Australians who have serviced in the Defence Force, partnering with ex-service organisations and state and territory governments.

It comes alongside a host of other promises offered by the Coalition, including:

$16.2 million investment to support organisations including Soldier On, Team Rubicon and state branches of the RSL;

$17 million investment to exempt totally and permanently incapacitated (TPI) veterans from the new ‘treatment cycle’ requirements that were due to commence in July;

Extend the time offered for eligible veterans to access the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme from two to five years after completing ADF service; and

Extend eligibility to the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme to allow current or former ADF members to access home building insurance

“Our government has a strong track record delivering services and support to our veterans and their families. We understand the role that ex-service organisations play in supporting veterans after their service has concluded,” a joint release from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said.

2019 Budget puts Veterans and their Families First

Australian veterans and their families will continue to see an improvement in support and services with $11.5 billion in funding allocated in the 2019–20 Budget. This funding represents an overall increase of $300 million allocated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19 to support our veterans and their families.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the 2019–20 Budget was focussed on putting veterans and their families first and would see a continued investment in the transformation of DVA.
“Over the next two years DVA will continue its focus on making it easier and faster for veterans to access the services they need, when and where they need them,” Mr Chester said.
“Veterans and their families will be able to access more services online and we will continue to simplify our phone system, introducing a single contact phone number, 1800 VETERAN.
“We are making sure that every veteran, no matter where they live has better access to DVA by partnering with Department of Human Services to use their extensive network of shop fronts and centres, as well as Mobile Service Centres and agent networks.
“We will also be investing more to make DVA’s online claims site, MyService, more user-friendly, making the claims process easier and faster.
“As the rising cost of living continues to put pressure on a lot of Australians, we have also announced a one-off Energy Assistance Payment that will provide additional support for more than 225,000 veterans and widows who receive support payments. The payment is worth $75 for singles and $125 for couples.
“We are continuing to deliver an extensive respect and recognition package with a veterans’ covenant, nationally recognised veterans’ card, lapel pin and commemorative program of national and international events.”

The Australian Government’s commitment to supporting veterans will strengthen with $24.4 million in funding over four years for a range of programs including:
         – $16.2 million in funding to support grants to organisations who support veterans to deliver innovative programs to support veterans to find meaningful employment
         – $4.2 million to extend the trial of the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment which will continue to provide veterans with access to treatment for specified conditions before claims are approved, getting veterans treatment faster and preventing the risk of further deterioration of their condition
       –  $4.0 million to provide training to volunteers who work with veterans enhancing their capability to recognise mental health risks and to provide intervention and support.

“Helping veterans effectively transition to civilian life is a priority for the government,” Mr Chester said.
“We know that employing a veteran is good for business and the experience and skills they bring to a job can be invaluable. “These grants will help veterans find employment by helping them navigate the range of community and government services available to them.”

Family violence victims who are former spouses or de-facto partners of veterans will also see an increase in support, with $6.2 million in funding allocated in the Budget.
“Funding for the Partner Service Pensions – eligibility alignment measure will ensure former spouses and de-facto partners will be able to continue receiving the partner service pension after their relationship has ended and divorce proceedings finalised, including where it is determined that special domestic circumstances apply,” Mr Chester said.
“This measure is about creating equity for all former partners of veterans, regardless of their marital status.”

Last year the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade completed its inquiry into the use of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force.
“We recognise that this is an ongoing concern for some veterans and the Australian Government is providing $2.1 million so that any concerned veterans can have a comprehensive health check by a general practitioner to identify service-related illness, disease and injury,” Mr Chester said.

The 2019–20 Budget also provides:
• $3.5 million in funding to support the 2020 Anzac Day Dawn Service in France as well as for managing security and attendance in both France and Turkey consistent with previous overseas commemorations. The funding includes funds for a scoping study for a commemorative site on the Island of Lemnos, Greece, the former site of an Australian field hospital during the First World War.
• New and amended listings on the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

More information on all of DVA’s 2019–20 Budget measures is available in the DVA Information Sheets here