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

Online Survey: DVA Rehabilitation Appliances

DVA is conducting a review of its rehabilitation appliance services.
Rehabilitation appliances assist DVA clients to minimise the impact of disabilities and enhance quality of life. They include a wide variety of items ranging from aids to help with mobility, to continence products, to home modifications that allow people with disabilities to remain living in their home. DVA provides rehabilitation appliances under the Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP) for eligible people, as well as under rehabilitation plans.

The aim of the Review is to ensure that DVA’s rehabilitation appliance services continue to be appropriate, effective and efficient in meeting the needs of the veteran community. It will also ensure the services are flexible and responsive in catering for the needs of all DVA clients, regardless of age.

If you have feedback you would like to share about your experiences with DVA aids and appliances, you can fill in the online survey here. The closing date for survey responses is 29 August 2018. Recommendations resulting from the Review are expected to be finalised by the end of 2018.

Kind regards
Amanda Green
Executive Assistant to Ms Leanne Cameron
Deputy Commissioner Queensland
Assistant Secretary Client Coordination and Support
Ph: 07 3223 8737 (#470737)
Fax: 07 3223 8304
[email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

‘It’s destroyed my life’: Hopes inquiry will back veterans’ claims anti-malaria drug caused illness

Veterans who believe their severe physical and mental health conditions were caused by anti-malaria medications given to them by the Army are hoping a senate inquiry will find enough evidence to back their claims.

Almost 20 years ago more than 3,000 troops were given the experimental drug tafenoquine, or the registered medication mefloquine, while on deployments in Timor-Leste and Bougainville.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) told 7.30 it has received anti-malarial-related claims from 42 veterans.

Mefloquine, which is also known by the brand name Lariam, has been shown to cause neuropsychiatric side effects and has been linked to two veteran suicides.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and DVA recognises mefloquine can cause 14 conditions including depression, seizure, anxiety, schizophrenia and suicide.

Far fewer effects of tafenoquine are officially recognised.

In May, then-vice chief of the ADF, Ray Griggs, told a senate inquiry “its side-effects profile is much, much better than that of mefloquine”.

“There is no evidence that we know of that links it to neuropsychiatric conditions.”

‘It makes you feel real depressed’

10058256 3x2 340x227Speaking publicly for the first time, Army veteran Michael Bush told 7.30 about the severe impact he believes tafenoquine has had on his life after taking it in Timor-Leste.

The 40-year-old is unable to work after being diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, a form of schizophrenia and chronic gastrointestinal issues.

“For what they’ve done to my health … you can never buy that back, it’s destroyed my life,” he said.

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‘Help is available’

The Department of Defence declined 7.30’s interview request but said in a statement it was participating in the Senate inquiry and it would be inappropriate to comment while it was underway.

“It is important that public commentary on the issue is well-informed and reflects evidence-based research,” the statement said.

“This approach avoids misleading or adding to the anxiety of a broad group of people, including current and former serving ADF personnel and the general public who have used antimalarial treatments.

“These concerns have meant Defence has been careful and thorough in its response to claims made by individuals, so as to ensure outreach activities are underpinned by a sound public health approach.

“Most importantly, help is available to any current or former serving member or their family if they need support.”

DVA said it conducted a pilot outreach program for veterans in Townsville in 2016 and is considering further outreach activities.

RELATED STORYADF clears itself of wrongdoing over drug controversy

RELATED STORY: Defence force admits soldier shouldn’t have been included in anti-malaria drug trial

Invitation – Inquiry into ADF use of Mefloquine and Tafenoquine

On 19 June 2018 the Senate referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee a range of matters relating to the ADF use of Mefloquine and Tafenoquine for inquiry and report by 17 September 2018. 

The full terms of reference are to inquire with particular reference to:

(a) the current and past policies and practices for:
(i) prescribing Quinoline anti-malarial drugs to ADF personnel, and
(ii) identifying and reporting adverse drug reactions from Quinoline anti-malarial drugs among ADF personnel;

(b) the nature and extent of any adverse health effects of those who have taken Mefloquine/Tafenoquine on serving and former ADF personnel;

(c) the support available for partners, carers and families of personnel who experience any adverse health effects of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs;

(d) a comparison of international evidence/literature available on the impact of Quinoline anti-malarials;

(e) how other governments have responded to claims regarding Quinoline anti-malarials; and

(f) any other related matters.

The purpose of this letter of invitation is to draw your attention to the inquiry and to invite you or your organisation to make a written submission to the committee by 31 July 2018.

READ THE DETAILS

DVA Secretly Changed Rules to Deny Veteran’s Claim

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs secretly deleted an incapacity policy to prevent an injured veteran claiming compensation. The Department denies any impropriety by its staff.

Read the full statement from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

ABC  TV  7.30 Report 18th June 2018

www.abc.net.au/7.30/dva-secretly-changed-rules-to-deny-veterans-claim/9883774

Expanding Essential Services for Veterans and their Families

VETERANS and their families will have greater access to essential services with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester introducing the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Veteran-Centric Reforms No. 2) Bill 2018 (VCR Bill) today.

“The measures introduced today will continue to ensure veterans and their families get the services and support they need,” Mr Chester said.
“As a government we are determined to put veterans and their families first.
“Mental health continues to be a big issue in communities throughout the country and we provide free mental health care to anyone who has served for one day in the Australian Defence Force. 

We will be establishing a new Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot to deliver intensive and assertive management services to veterans following an attempted suicide or to those at significant risk of suicide.
“This pilot is about linking non-government and government support services to support vulnerable veterans’ and their families and will be offered at nine public and private hospitals in Brisbane.

“We want to encourage and support those studying with a view to getting them back into the workforce. This is why we will remove the reduction in the amount of incapacity payment which normally occurs after 45 weeks for those undertaking approved full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan. This will mean veterans can focus on their study without having to worry about changes to their financial situation.”

The Bill will also enable the grandchildren of Vietnam veterans to be eligible to receive financial support to further their education through the Long Tan Bursary Scheme.
“We will continue to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served our county in Vietnam by extending this support to their grandchildren,” Mr Chester said.
“Families who have suffered the tragic loss of a partner and who are wholly dependent partners of veterans will have two years to decide how to receive the compensation in periodic payments or as a lump sum, which is an increase from the current six months.
“The loss of a loved one is life changing and an incredible challenging time for any family, this change will remove the pressure to make an immediate decision so that they can make the best choice for their needs.
“This legislation re-affirms the Turnbull Government’s commitment to put veterans and their families at the centre of everything that we do.”

Other measures in the Bill will include allowing claims for compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) to be made orally as well as in writing. This Bill will allow for some of the measures announced in the 2018-19 Budget to be implemented.

Drone Ambulance

Technology application to save lives

DVA Minister – Putting Veterans and their Families First – New Study to Improve Advocacy Services

A MAJOR study to improve advocacy services for veterans and their families has commenced under the leadership of the former Chair of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, Mr Robert Cornall AO.

download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the study was part of the Turnbull Government’s ongoing commitment to put veterans and their families first and delivers on a significant part of the Government’s response to the concerns raised in the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Reference’s committee report: The Constant Battle: Suicide by Veterans.

“Veterans and their families deserve to have easy access to the best services available to them and this study has been established to ensure that happens,” Mr Chester said.

“This study will go a long way to helping our younger veterans and their families navigate the compensation claims and appeals processes and it will address a number of improvements to the current advocacy model which were recommended in the report.

“Mr Cornall has an excellent track record in working with the Defence and legal communities, and I’m confident he’ll bring all his experience to bear on finding new ways to ensure those who’ve served our nation get the best possible advocacy.”

Mr Cornall will talk to younger veterans, female veterans, veterans’ families, ex-service organisations, and the broader Defence community in coming months.

The latest research will be reviewed, veterans’ advocacy services in other countries will be examined, and advocacy models in other areas, such as the legal services, community, and disability sectors will be looked at.

“I hope many individuals and organisations will contribute their experiences and ideas to the study,” Mr Chester said.

Separate to this study, Mr Chester said the recent passage of new veterans’ legislation will also have a big impact on improving the health and wellbeing of those who have served their country.

For more information about the advocacy study, visit  here  or send an email to [email protected].

16 April 2018

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

National Snapshot of Homelessness in Australian Cities

Interviews with more than 8000 people have been used to inform a new national snapshot of homelessness in Australian cities.

images

The World Today speaks to the study lead from the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia.

LISTEN & READ MORE

Three minutes and ten seconds into the interview on homelessness in Australian capital cities the following is discussed:

PAUL FLATAU: So around about six per cent of the respondents actually said: “Yes, I have served in the Australian Defence Force.”
We actually don’t know what the number of veterans – this is post-World War Two and post-Korean war veterans, because very, very few of those that we interviewed were of an age – in fact, none were of an age of World War Two.
But we actually don’t know the total count of veterans in Australia in the worlds of interest to us. But six per cent seems very high.
But there’s another factor that was very important: and that was that the prevalence of serious brain injury was incredibly high amongst the veterans, much higher than the rest of the homeless group.
So around about half said “yes” to the question around serious brain injury, and that is a very alarming statistic. And we need to address that question of brain injury amongst veterans and obviously we need to address veterans’ homelessness.
It’s a question that was addressed in the US really strongly over a 10 year period. One of the major policies around homelessness in the US was about veterans’ homelessness.
And it’s been a very, very quiet issue in Australia.

THOMAS ORITI: Professor Paul Flatau, the director of the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia.
******************************

Comment from Dr Rod Bain OAM
MBBS FRCA FANZCA
Member RACGP
ESO Medical Advisor

So, at long last, we have a solid statistic on which to base the financial assistance we need to plan for these individuals’ futures as they can can no longer be allowed to manage on their own devices in our Australian society..A ball park figure  of the 8000 interviews is that there are 240 or so Aust. Defence Community members in the streets as a result of moderate head injuries most of which would have received these injuries during their ADF time.

I intend to pursue this long and hard within our ESO community as well, but here we can be united, I believe, to have these individuals moved to better places as quickly as we can.

DVA Minister Media Release – Delivering Better Services for Veterans & their Families

VETERANS and their families will receive increased support services and income support payments after the Senate passed new legislation today.
The legislation follows a $31 million boost to mental health services which was announced late last year.

download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the legislation was part of the Turnbull Government’s ongoing commitment to improve services for veterans and their families and delivers a significant part of the Government’s response to the concerns raised in the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Reference’s committee report.
“We are constantly striving to deliver the support and services needed for those who have served our nation,” Mr Chester said.
“This is a great outcome for veterans and their families who play such an essential role in a veteran’s health and wellbeing with additional services to be provided under these new measures which include increased access to childcare assistance, home care and counselling.
“We have also established a new income support payment for veterans with mental health problems who are unable to work so they have a source of income. This will reduce the stress this places on both the veteran and their family in what can be a difficult time.
“Partners of veterans may also be eligible for the Veteran Payment and veterans with dependent children may be entitled to the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A without being subject to the Family Tax Benefit means test while they receive the Veteran Payment.”

Mr Chester said from 1 May 2018 a new pilot program, the Coordinated Veteran Care mental health pilot will commence which aims to support to veterans in rural and regional areas with chronic mental health at the mild to chronic status combined with co-morbid health conditions.

“Veterans are at the heart of many communities around Australia and it is essential they have access to these services no matter where they live and this a great initiative to ensure vital mental health services are delivered,” Mr Chester said.
“Veterans who have suffered a catastrophic injury will also be supported with access to household and attendant care services based on their individual needs.”

Mr Chester said the qualifying service determination has also been simplified by automating the process which will remove the requirement for veterans to make an application for the determination.

“There are also a range of other initiatives underway which will further deliver on our commitment to support our veterans who have given so much to our country and this Government is ensuring they receive and have access to support services they need now and into the future.”

Other measures in the legislation include an entitlement to a Gold Card for Australian Defence Force members who served in Japan after the cessation of hostilities at the end of World War II and before the British Commonwealth Occupation Force commenced.

Separate to this legislation, Mr Chester said anyone who has served one day in the Australian Defence Force can have mental health treatment free for any mental health condition.

22 March 2018

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

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