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.

DVA E-news – September 2018

DVA ENEWS

Welcome to the September issue of DVA e-news, featuring information on the upcoming Diggers’ Requiem, the Veterans’ Advocacy Study as well as the following stories:
• Hellfire Pass commemorative service
• Honouring Women United by Defence
• Remembrance Day kits sent to schools
• Good nutrition for mind and body
• Anzac Day Schools’ Awards 2018

READ MORE

Chester Media Release – Accessible mental health support for veterans

THE Government today acknowledged the release of two reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) — the 2018 update on the Causes of death among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2002–2015, and the National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.
download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the latest findings show those who choose to serve in the ADF are, on average, healthier than the general community. However, the findings also highlight the need to support the mental health of veterans, particularly those under 30.
“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first,” Mr Chester said.
“We are committed to supporting the physical and mental health of veterans and these reports provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of veterans’ health.
“We have taken significant steps in recent years to increase mental health support to our veterans, and our priority now is to enhance support to veterans during their transition period.
“Our Government provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver services and programs to support 290,000 veterans and their families, with $200 million spent on mental health alone.”

Eligible transitioning ADF members now automatically receive a DVA Health Card – Specific Conditions (White Card), which can be used to access treatment for any mental health condition, regardless of whether or not it is related to their service.
“This builds on the 2018–19 Budget measure, which expanded mental health treatment to eligible current and former Reservists without the need to link this condition to their service,” Mr Chester said.
“ADF personnel who receive a White Card for mental health treatment will not be required to make a claim with DVA to get treatment for mental health conditions—they can simply use their card to access treatment.”

women veterans anzac day 255661 1524533230888 main.640x0cADF veteran, Kellie Dadds who has been deployed eight times says the support will be valuable.
“This initiative will be welcomed by veterans who are transitioning from the ADF as it is another step easing the transition process. Knowing this support is available when required is pleasing and will ensure that veterans get treatment early should they need it,” Ms Dadds said.

Current and former ADF members transitioning to civilian life also have access to a comprehensive one-off health assessment with their general practitioner (GP).
“From 1 July 2019, all those leaving the ADF will be able to access an annual comprehensive health assessment by a GP for the first five years after they discharge,” Mr Chester said.
“This is a $2.1 million commitment from government and will assist in the early detection and treatment of mental and physical health concerns during transition to civilian life, addressing a high risk period for the emergence of mental health conditions and suicide.”

Mental health treatment provided through a White Card can include: consultations with a GP; psychiatrist; psychologist; mental health social worker or mental health occupational therapist; specialist PTSD programs; subsidised pharmaceuticals required to treat a condition, and hospital treatment. Health assessments can be accessed with a Medicare card.

Former ADF members who have already transitioned to civilian life can still access DVA funded treatment for any mental health condition through the use of a White Card by emailing the Department at [email protected]or calling 1800 555 254.
Eligible transitioning ADF members will receive their White Cards in the mail.

21 September 2018

Nutrition Key Theme for Veterans’ Health Week 2018

NUTRITION is the theme of the over 140 events and activities being held during Veterans’ Health Week 2018, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester MP said today.

“Proper nutrition is vital for all of us to lead healthier lives. We know that good nutrition leads to improved health and wellbeing, which plays a major role in helping veterans achieve better lifestyle outcomes. When we eat better, we feel better and we are much healthier and happier,” Mr Chester said.

“Veterans’ Health Week, which starts today, is a fantastic opportunity for the public to support and attend the many different events and activities all over the country to positively engage with veterans and their families to promote the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

“There are over 140 fun, interactive and educational events scheduled across the country this year such as the Sunshine Coast RSL’s cooking masterclass with celebrity chef Matt Golinski, the Darwin RSL’s tri-service long table cook-off, and the Vietnam Veterans’ Association’s Nutrition Expo in Melbourne.

”Other events include the Salisbury RSL in Adelaide’s veterans two-course cooking competition, the Armadale RSL in Western Australia’s ‘How to eat cheaper but better’ cooking expo, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Sydney office’s ‘Bike N Blend’ pedal-powered healthy smoothie making event.”

In addition, DVA’s National Dietetic Adviser – Assistant Professor Tara Diversi, has created a series of nutritious, healthy, delicious and easy to make recipes to help veterans, their families and everyone else enjoy the benefits of healthy eating–available on DVA’s website and Facebook page.

“I urge everyone to get involved in Veterans’ Health Week events organised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Ex-Service organisations and community groups across the country to make the week a success.,” Mr Chester said.

“These events are all about assisting veterans and their families to live happy, healthy and active lives. The Government is committed to the ongoing care of those who have served our country and supporting Veterans’ Health Week is one of the ways we do this.”

Veterans’ Health Week runs from Saturday 22 September to Sunday 30 September 2018.

The full list of Veterans’ Health Week recipes, events and activities can be found on the DVA website: dva.gov.au/veterans-health-week

22 September 2018