Aged care inquiry to hear war widows overcharged for nursing home fees

Royal commission into aged care quality and safety. War Widows Guild says compensation payment pension should not be treated as assessable income.

War widows could be spending tens of thousands of dollars more in nursing home fees compared with veterans because of bureaucratic red tape that treats their pensions differently in income tests.

Meg Green download 10

 The War Widows Guild national president, Meg Green, intends to   raise the discrepancy in a submission to the royal commission into   the aged-care sector.

 Scott Morrison established the commission last year in response to   cases of neglect, abuse and negligence in nursing homes across   the country.

Green said a war widow’s compensation payment pension was treated as assessable income for the purposes of accessing aged care or home care services. But a veteran’s totally and permanently incapacitated pension was exempt.

“This means a war widow, on less income but the same assets as a veteran, may need to pay in excess of $500 more per fortnight in an aged-care facility,” Green said.

That means an extra $13,000 a year, or $65,000 if a war widow is in a nursing home for five years.

Green’s own mother, Paullette Gardiner, 95, is a war widow in a nursing home on the New South Wales central coast and pays $1,500 a fortnight in means-tested daily care fees.

Her late husband, Ronald, served in the air force in the Middle East in the second world war. Gardiner also served in the air force as a morse code telegraphist based in Australia.

“Had her war widows compensation payment not been calculated, she would have been paying less,” Green said.

She said it did not appear equitable or logical that the veteran’s compensation for his injury or loss was exempt and the widow’s compensation for her loss was not.

“You could argue [war widows] have suffered just as much because obviously veterans are affected by their war service and you have to deal with that as the wife … and put up with those effects,” she said. “They have done their duty to this nation as well.”

Some veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder after military service, which can lead to alcoholism and domestic violence.

Green has already brought the fee discrepancy issue to the attention of a separate Productivity Commission inquiry and the veterans’ affairs minister.

The guild and its state branches have 8,000 war widow members and Green estimates there are 59,000 war widows in Australia across all age groups.

Appointment of New Office of War Graves Director

BRIGADIER Paul Nothard will take up the role of Director of the Office of Australian War Graves from 11 January 2019, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced today.

Mr Chester congratulated Mr Nothard on the appointment saying his highly experienced career as an Army officer would prove invaluable in his new role.

“Mr Nothard has more than 30 years of experience in the Australian Army with his most recent appointment as the Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633 in the Middle East,” Mr Chester said.

“He has had an impressive military career demonstrating strategic leadership in complex and difficult environments including roles in logistics, transport operations, fleet management, career management and personnel policy. 

“Mr Nothard holds a Bachelor of Professional Studies, a Masters of Management and a Masters of Strategic Studies.

“He is a Graduate and Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is an Executive Director on the Board of the Army Amenities Fund. I look forward to working with him.”

Mr Nothard said he was excited to take up the role of Director of the Office of Australian War Graves and looking forward to draw upon his defence knowledge and experience to acknowledge and recognise those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for Australia.

“Australia has a long-standing commitment to remembering our war dead and I am honoured to have been given responsibility for this important task,” Mr Nothard said.

Mr Chester thanked the outgoing Director, Ken Corke, for his work over the past three years.

“Mr Corke has done an outstanding job during his tenure with the Office of Australian War Graves during a very significant period leading up to the Anzac Centenary,” Mr Chester said.

“On behalf of the Australian Government and the ex-service community, I sincerely thank Mr Corke and wish him all the best for his future.”

Mr Nothard was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in 1999 and in 2008 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for exceptional service for senior officer management in the Australian Army, Commanding Officer of the 1st Combat Service Support Battalion and as the Commander of the Force Level Logistic Asset in the Middle East Area of Operations.

10 January 2019

VETAFFAIRS – Summer 2018 EDITION

The Summer 2018 issue of Vetaffairs is now available here, featuring:
• Details of the planned Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, Australian Veteran Card and Lapel Pin announced during the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, as well as stories about the Games themselves, their legacy and DVA’s forums on families, employment and transition from defence service to civilian life.

• Reports on the Centenary of the First World War Armistice, the #1MS social media campaign, the Anzac 360 app bringing the Remembrance Trail on the Western Front to life and the Just Ask initiative to help Australians learn more about their family’s connections to service.

• Information about the new Veterans’ Employment Commitment, which will help veterans to more easily identify organisations that are committed to hiring and supporting ex-service men and women.

• Download a printable PDF version of Vetaffairs (2.7 MB). Listen to the audio version (MP3 99.7 MB), noting the large file size. 

• DVA is providing reduced services from Tuesday, 25 December 2018 to 2 January 2019. 

• DVA is on the move in Brisbane. The offices will move from 259 Queen Street to 480 Queen Street in January. 

If you are a DVA client you will automatically receive a mailed copy of the Newsletter. If not a client then Email [email protected]  to receive future issues on CD, to request an email alert when Vetaffairs is published online, or to subscribe to DVA e-news.


DVA Media Release – Investment Pays on Claims Processing Times

The 2018 Client Satisfaction Survey of more than 3000 randomly selected DVA clients, including veterans, war widows/ers, carers and dependants, found an overall satisfaction rating of 81 per cent for DVA services.

• Overall satisfaction of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) services remains above 80 per cent and satisfaction among clients aged 45-and-under is improving.
• Improvements at DVA mean around 85 per cent of rehabilitation and compensation claims are processed in one system and in reduced timeframes.
• The goal to improve the quality of service to veterans and their families by reducing claim processing times is being achieved.
download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the survey results illustrate DVA’s Transformation program continues to show positive results for veterans and their families, but that there is still much more to do.
“Satisfaction for DVA clients aged 45 years-and-under is up from 49 per cent in 2016 to 56 per cent in 2018, and dissatisfaction of this group has more than halved from 31 per cent to 15 per cent for the same period,” Mr Chester said
“It also showed for clients aged 45–64 years, satisfaction has improved from 69 per cent to 72 per cent from 2016 to 2018.
“Change takes time and there may be small disruptions to services for clients, however, tracking the ongoing satisfaction of DVA’s clients through the survey is one important way to gauge the outcomes and benefits of system improvements.”
The Transformation program has an ongoing commitment and investment from Government, including more than $166 million in 2017–18 and more than $111.9 million in 2018–19.
READ THE FULL RELEASE

‘Disheartening’: Veterans ‘let down’ by inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials

Veterans are disheartened by a Senate inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials they say have left them with debilitating symptoms for nearly 20 years.

Australian Defence Force personnel took quinoline drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine while deployed to Timor-Leste and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea between 1999 and 2002.

A Senate inquiry this year heard from veterans who have since suffered a range of symptoms including memory loss, vertigo, migraines, vivid nightmares, hearing and vision loss, irritable bowel syndrome, aggression and suicidal thoughts.

Most have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but believe they actually have acquired brain injuries from toxicity and need rehabilitation.

They struggle to access the help they want from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) because it doesn’t match their diagnoses.

The Senate committee accepted their symptoms were genuine in its report tabled this week, but made no findings on the causes of the health issues.

“We’re basically back to square one again,” Colin Brock, who was deployed to Timor-Leste in 2000 and served for 20 years, told The New Daily on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty disheartening.

“The government has looked like they’re doing something but it has actually, I believe, been a whole waste of time.”

An internal inquiry into the mefloquine trial by the ADF Inspector-General in 2016 found it was carried out ethically and in accordance with national guidelines.

The Repatriation Medical Authority found there was insufficient evidence that exposure to the drugs causes acquired brain injury, a finding supported by a September review by the Specialist Medical Review Council.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Just Ask About Your Military History. You Might be Amazed

AUSTRALIANS are being encouraged to Just Ask questions within their families and make enquiries online to see if they have a lost family connection to one of the almost two million people who have served Australia in wars, conflicts and on peacekeeping operations over the past century.

download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC Darren Chester said the Anzac Centenary period encouraged many Australians to research their family history, which had uncovered for some a lost connection to the First World War.
“As time moves forward Australia continues to lose more of the original living memories of our wartime history, but uncovering the story of military ancestors is a straightforward process that can yield amazing results,” Mr Chester said.
Start by asking your oldest relatives what they know or if anyone has letters, diaries, medals or other memorabilia from a war, conflict or peacekeeping mission that could provide some clues.
“From there, it’s as simple as searching the online database of the Australian War Memorial, the National Archives of Australia, the National Library of Australia and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
“Communities should also use the valuable local resources such as local libraries, RSL branches and historical societies, which do an amazing job at documenting and preserving our history.”
In addition, if your relative was from the UK or New Zealand, you can search sites such as the UK National Archives and the NZ National Archives.

As part of the launch of the Just Ask initiative, Ancestry.com is providing 100 hours’ free access to its database from 9–12 November 2018 for people to track their family story.

“Throughout the Anzac Centenary period 2014–18, many people have found long-lost connections to the First World War, giving them a broader understanding and respect for their family history,” Mr Chester said.
I have been privileged to hear first-hand the experiences of Australians reconnecting with their family history and what it has meant to them.
“With the additional access to Ancestry, Australians will be able to readily research their family’s history and start the search for a connection to our military history.
“As a nation we need to take collective responsibility for preserving our family history and acknowledge those who have served and who are currently serving our country.
“On Remembrance Day this year, the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice, I encourage all Australians to buy a poppy, attend their local commemorative service, and stop for a minute’s silence.”
For more information about how to research your family connection, visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website.

The Veterans’ Covenant and the Veterans’ Card

The Federal Government is developing an Australian Veterans’ Covenant (the Covenant) to recognise the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families.

This initiative was first mooted by DFWA some ten years ago, and we have been lobbying since then for its introduction.

A key initiative related to the Covenant is the Veteran Card.
As such, the card is in effect simply an ID card, issued by a recognised authority and therefore having some status, that can then be recognised by companies or organisations offering discounts or other benefits.

Anyone who is eligible for a DVA White, Gold or Orange card will be eligible for the Veteran Card, including veterans who are transitioning or have transitioned from the Australian Defence Force (ADF). It also includes certain Reservists.
The Veteran Card will support up to 600,000 veterans, in Australia.

This initiative will formally start in December 2018. However businesses, organisations and individuals can choose to make use of the existing DVA White, Gold and Orange cards at any time.

READ MORE

PM’s Media Release – Recognising and Respecting our Veterans

Veterans and their families are at the centre of a fresh package of initiatives from our Government to recognise their vital role and service to Australia.
We understand the home front is just as important as the front line.
Our Government will develop an Australian Veterans’ Covenant that will be enacted in legislation so the nation can recognise the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families.
Like the United Kingdom Armed Forces Covenant, the Australian Veterans’ Covenant is for the Australian community to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who commit to defend the nation, and pledge their commitment to support veterans and their families.
As part of this Veterans’ Covenant, a new Australian Veterans’ Card and an Australian Veterans’ Lapel Pin will make it easier for all Australians to recognise and respect the unique contribution that veterans have made to Australia and for our veterans to reconnect with others who have served.
As we have seen throughout the Invictus Games and in the lead up to the Centenary of Armistice, Australians want to acknowledge and show respect for our veterans who have given so much in their service.
Businesses, government and community organisations can also play their part in recognising and respecting those who have served. The card and the pin can help these organisations identify veterans when they aren’t wearing their uniform or medals, so they can offer discounts and extra support.
The new Card and Lapel Pin will for the first time enable everyone across the nation to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service and support the more than 300,000 veterans in Australia and their families.

The Prime Minister will be writing to businesses and communities to urge them to recognise the service of our veterans.
In addition to the record $11.2 billion annual support our government delivers for veterans and their families, we will invest $11.1 million in these measures to deliver a national approach to recognise veterans and will further consult defence and veterans communities in coming weeks.
We will also deliver $6.7 million to develop the SoldierOn Fussell House accommodation facility to be co-located at the Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney that the NSW Berejiklian Government is investing more than $340 million to rebuild. This includes the National Centre for Veterans Health – an Australian first, state of the art centre for specialised health care for veterans.
Named for Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan when he was killed in action by an Improvised Explosive Device detonation, the facility will house up to 40 veterans and their families at a time and will especially benefit those from regional and rural areas when veterans are getting treatment.
Our Government will also invest $7.6 million for the Kookaburra Kids Defence Program to boost their targeted support to children of ex-serving defence force members who are experiencing mental health issues due to their service.
The Kookaburra Kids Defence Program was first supported by our government with a $2.1 million injection in a pilot program in NSW, the ACT, Queensland and the NT for 569 children, and this extra investment will see the program expand into Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia for 1,750 children.
As a country we can always do more to recognise and back in our veterans. Our government is committed to setting Australia up to support the veterans of today and tomorrow.

THE HON SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER
THE HON DARREN CHESTER MP, MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS; MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL; MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE CENTENARY OF ANZAC
JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT
Saturday, 27 October 2018

Carer Allowance – Important Information

Are you a carer? Have you received a request from Centrelink asking for details of your income? From 20 September 2018, the Government introduced an income test for Carer Allowance, which is paid by the Department of Human Services (DHS) through Centrelink. As a result, recipients of this payment must now have an income under the income test limit (currently $250,000 for individuals and couples).

Recipients of DVA income support payments, such as the Service Pension, Veteran Payment and Age Pension, will automatically meet the new income test requirements. However, DHS has advised that it has already issued letters to Carer Allowance recipients, some of whom may be DVA income support recipients, requesting they complete the Carer Allowance adjusted taxable income details form.

If you have received a letter requesting your income details and would like more information, or an extension of time to respond, you can contact Centrelink’s Carers Line or the new Carer Gateway.

Centerlink Carers Line: 132 717
Website: Carer Gateway

DVA is working with DHS to address veteran community concerns as a matter of urgency.

Retreat for Veterans Gets DVA Funding Boost

A former soldier , Roger Dwyer, who assists returned service personnel in recovering from post traumatic stress disorder will be able to make major improvements to his Camp Gregory Veterans Retreat because of a $20,000 DVA Community Services grant.