“In a budget that was mostly positive for veterans, ADSO welcomes the extension of eligibility for non-liability health care, including Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling support, to all current and former ADF members for the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse.
The partnering with the Kookaburra Kids Foundation to develop a pilot for children of families of serving and former ADF members affected by mental illnesses is a good initiative which we welcome.
The move to review the culture and processes of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to become less process focussed and more veterans centric has our strong support.
We remain disappointed that no provision has been provided to rectify the many discriminatory provisions of existing military superannuation schemes, nor action to stop the erosion of the value of veterans’ disability pensions.”
DVA Outcome Statements
1. Maintain and enhance the financial wellbeing and self-sufficiency of eligible persons and their dependants through access to income support, compensation, and other support services, including advice and information about entitlements.
2. Maintain and enhance the physical wellbeing and quality of life of eligible persons and their dependants through health and other care services that promote early intervention, prevention and treatment, including advice and information about health service entitlements.
3. Acknowledgement and commemoration of those who served Australia and its allies in wars, conflicts and peace operations through promoting recognition of services and sacrifice, preservation of Australia’s wartime heritage, and official commemorations.
Specific Budget Measures (Reference – Budget Paper No 2 – Part 2 Expense Measures)
Business case for veteran centric reform
The Government will provide $24.8 million over two years from 2015 16 to develop a second pass business case to simplify and streamline the Department of Veterans’ Affairs business processes and replace legacy Information and Communication Technology systems.
The development of the second pass business case will outline how to best deliver services to veterans and their dependents which are more veteran centric, efficient, accurate and reliable
Improving processing systems
The Government will provide $23.9 million over two years from 2016 17 to improve the operation and sustainability of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) existing Information and Communication Technology systems. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Human Services.
This measure will strengthen DVA’s processing systems, which support the delivery of services to veterans.
Establishing a Single Appeal Path under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004
The Government will provide $0.3 million over four years from 2016 17 to implement a single appeal path for decisions made under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 in order to streamline and simplify the appeals process for applicants. A single appeal path will provide discretionary powers to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to award costs in most circumstances.
Incapacity Payments — improved support for veterans
The Government will provide $5.7 million over four years from 2016 17 to align the end date of veterans’ incapacity payments with the incremental increase to the Age Pension qualifying age and to reduce unnecessary financial hardship for veterans and their dependents by providing eligible discharged veterans with an interim incapacity payment at the level of their regular weekly salary while their actual incapacity benefit is calculated.
This measure stems from the implementation of reforms in response to the review of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 completed in 2011.
Mental Health Treatment for Current and Former Members of the Australian Defence Force — improved access
The Government will provide $37.9 million over four years from 2016 17 to extend access to certain mental health services on a non liability basis to all current and former permanent Australian Defence Force (ADF) members irrespective of their date, duration or type of service. Eligible services will include treatment for post traumatic stress and depressive disorders. Current and former ADF members, including victims of abuse in the ADF, will be able to apply for treatment without needing to obtain a formal diagnosis beforehand.
New Veteran Public Hospital Pricing Agreements
The Government will achieve efficiencies by adopting the National Efficient Price, which is calculated by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, for funding to the States and Territories for veterans’ services in public hospitals. This will not impact on hospital services provided to veterans.
The savings from this measure are not for publication (nfp) due to continuing negotiations with State and Territory governments.
The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to fund policy priorities in the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio.
Refurbishment of War Graves and Memorials
The Government will provide $7.5 million over four years from 2016 17 to enable the Office of Australian War Graves to undertake the following refurbishment projects:
• rebuild 1,000 existing war graves which have been irreparably damaged;
• restore more than 2,800 grave plaques in the Lae War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea;
• enhance the safety of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum in Thailand; and
• conduct a scoping study for the refurbishment of the Australian War Memorial in London, including urgent remedial work.
Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme — new listings and price amendments
The Government will provide $0.3 million over four years from 2016 17 for new listings on the Repatriation Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits (the Schedule) and for price amendments for a range of medicines which are already listed on the Schedule.
The new listings and price amendments have been recommended by the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Reference Committee, which advises on the clinical appropriateness of items to be made available under the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS).
The RPBS was established to meet the specific clinical needs of veterans with health conditions arising from war or military service.
Reversal of Decision to Remove Backdating of Veterans’ Disability Pension Claims
The Government will provide $37.8 million over four years from 2016 17 to reverse the 2014 15 Budget measure titled Veterans’ Disability Pensions commencement of payments from date of claim that removed the backdating of payments to veterans under the Veterans’ Disability Pension.
Spirit of ANZAC Centenary Experience Travelling Exhibition — additional funding
The Government will provide an additional $10.0 million in 2016 17 to support the travelling exhibition of Australia’s involvement in the First World War and the Century of Service of Australia’s armed forces in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
The cost of this measure will be offset by redirecting funding from existing resources within the Department of Defence.
Support Services for Children of Veterans
The Government will provide $2.1 million over two years from 2016 17 to the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation to provide services to the children of current and former Australian Defence Force members who have been affected by mental illness.
Veteran Suicide Awareness and Prevention Programs — continuation of Operation Life
The Government will provide $1.0 million over four years from 2016 17 to continue the Operation Life suicide awareness and prevention workshops for the veteran community. These workshops increase awareness of suicide risk and the importance of early intervention, with the aim of preventing suicide amongst veterans.
Veterans’ Review Board — case management system and alternative dispute resolution
The Government will provide $2.7 million over four years from 2016 17 to implement a new case management system and to roll out Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes for the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB).
The national roll out of ADR will enable appeals to the VRB to be resolved through a dispute resolution process without the need for a formal hearing, improving the timeliness and responsiveness of review finalisation.