Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant – Greater Recognition for Veterans and their Families

NEW legislation introduced into Federal Parliament will provide better recognition of the unique nature of military service and further acknowledge the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families.

The Government’s Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019 will establish an Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, and as part of a wider recognition package, a card and lapel pin will be provided to veterans.

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said it was a project he has been working on with ex-service organisations since becoming the Minister almost 12 months ago.
The Government has introduced this legislation to provide a formal way for all Australians to show their appreciation to the men and women who secured the freedoms we enjoy today and to their families who have supported them,” Mr Chester said.
“I have consulted extensively with the ex-service community on the development of this Bill, including discussions with our 5-Eyes counterparts in the United Kingdom who have put in place similar measures.
“The covenant, card and lapel pin will allow the community — whether they are employers, businesses, community groups, veteran or sporting organisations — the opportunity to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served our nation.
“Our government is committed to putting veterans and their families first and this legislation is part of a greater suite of measures we are putting in place.
“This Bill will create a separate Act to provide symbolic recognition for all veterans, and does not change current entitlements.
“Importantly, the Bill before Parliament includes a statement requiring the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to adopt a beneficial approach when interpreting legislation and applying a fair, just and consistent approach to veterans’ claims. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to transform the culture of DVA.”
The Government has received a positive response from businesses which are supportive of the recognition program. The covenant includes an oath, which all Australians will be encouraged to take at community commemorative events, and is underpinned by the new Veteran Card and an Australian Veteran Lapel Pin and a Reservist Lapel Pin.

More information on the Australian Defence Veterans Covenant can be found on the DVA website here

Opinion – SUPER WAR HEATING UP

There are many issues that have the wider defence community considering how they might vote in the coming federal election.
High on the list is military superannuation, particularly those who were compulsorily subscribed to what ultimately became the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB).

Disgruntled veterans are not stupid, so by comparing multiple responses know their grievances are not being reasonably considered, despite carefully crafted submissions based on new compelling evidence.
They may not riot, but have pencils and will vote.

READ MORE

Support for people affected by the Townsville and NQ Floods

For all people suffering from the floods. Here are the current grants available and how to get them.

Emergency hardship assistance: $180, not asset tested

Essential household contents grant: Grants of up to $1,765 for single adults who are uninsured to replace or repair essential household contents

Structural assistance grant: Grants of up to $10,995 for single adults and up to $14,685 for couples/families are available if you are uninsured and need repairs to your home

Access to these grants is available at: https://www.communityrecovery.qld.gov.au/#/       1800 173 349

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery: a one-off recovery assistance payment of $1000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child. More than 25 percent of your home needs to have major damage or have been breached by flood waters

Go to:
www.humanservices.gov.au/disaster
180 22 66

Disaster Recovery Allowance: Help for people who can show loss of income as a direct result of the Far North Queensland Floods

Go here for more: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/…/far-north-queensland-flo…

Essential services safety and reconnection grant: If you’re uninsured, or unable to claim insurance, you may be eligible for a grant to help you reconnect essential services:
– $200 towards a safety inspection for each essential service needing reconnection
– Up to $4200 towards repair work to enable essential services to be reconnected

For details of eligibilty and how to apply go here

https://www.qld.gov.au/…/essential-services-safety-reconnec…

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.

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 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.

‘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.

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GOOD NEWS – RCB Review Group to meet with Minister Darren Chester

Persistence, Perseverance and Patience.

The Minister has agreed to meet with the RCB RG in Canberra on the 26th and the 27th November 2018. The first meeting is with the Minister’s Defence Advisor and Defence Department staff  and the second meeting with the Minister.

The RG in all its submission since 2006 has sought such a personal meeting without success: the government preferring to communicate in writing.

We thank the Minister and look forward to the meetings.

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.

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DFRDB e-Petition to the Government – Commutation Anomaly

This petition goes directly to the Parliament.  All servicemen,servicewomen, their spouses widows/widowers, who contributed to the DFRDB scheme are affected by this anomaly, Even our partners will be paying this impost until they die if we predecease them.

 This  is an opportunity for you and your partner to have your say and help correct this anomaly. And if it doesn’t affect you then please help those who are affected by signing the petition

PLEASE SIGN & VERIFY THE PETITION NOW  

THE PETITION
Defence Veterans of Australia, as Commutation recipients of the DFRDB Scheme administered by Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, petition the House of Representatives to  instate the National Life Expectancy data  point of each affected veteran as the point where full reinstatement of their Commutation obligation is fulfilled: and, to reimburse to each DFRDB veteran, all over-subscribed payments forfeited by direct debit by them, once their original lump sum was repaid in full.

The DFRDB Authority failed to disclose to veterans the whole-of-life impost of a Lump Sum Commutation   on superannuation payments reduced by a factor, based on redundant Notional Life Expectancy  data and an individual’s Service data. Limited disclosure of the whole-of-life deductions was made by DFRDB,  37 years after the Scheme was launched, but never to members so affected.
Direct debit by DFRDB has been incremented and escalated over time, to a level where the original lump sum has been reimbursed multiple times. This effectively means that veterans are subsidising their own benefits.
There was no definition of the term ‘commutation’ within the legislation or in any document provided by DFRDB to superannuants, until its disclosure advised above. The direct debits were shown in the legislation and the DFRDB’s Administrative Manual to be a finite amount, not an escalating continuum .
On advice from DFRDB Administration all superannuants understood Commutation as an advance of Benefits to be reimbursed to DFRDB by fortnightly debits over a finite period and at a finite rate. How deluded Veterans were through DFRDB’s failure to disclose their interpretation of the Legislation, before the fact, thereby committing Veterans to an ever increasing, spiraling, life-term DEBT-SENTENCE.

 

RCB E-News Update – 3/2018

Since the last Update the Review Team has been actively involved in further evidence discoveries and representations to the Government’s House of Representatives Petitions Committee, complaint and appeal to the Defence Ombudsman, letters to all Parliamentarians and meetings with Sen Jim Molan, Sen Fraser Anning and other Senators including a chance encounter with Minister Darren Chester.

Defence has bunkered down to behind a wall of silence ignoring our demands for an independent-of- Government public inquiry.
Yet there are cracks appearing from two sources: firstly, Minister Chester has agreed to a meeting with the Team and secondly, the Katter Australian Party leader Bob Katter’s public announcement supports RCB recognition as warlike.

READ MORE

RCB UPDATE 3 20181030

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