20 th December 2016
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today released the Australian Government’s response to the Vietnam Veterans’ Family Study.
The Vietnam Veterans’ Family Study compared the physical, mental and social wellbeing of two groups of Australian veterans: 10,000 randomly selected Army Vietnam veterans and their families with 10,000 randomly selected Defence personnel who served in the Army during the Vietnam War era but did not deploy to Vietnam and their families.
Mr Tehan said the Government response to the study had been developed after extensive consultation with the veteran community through the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT).
The ESORT put forward several recommendations, which the Government considered in consultation with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defence (Defence). The major themes that emerged from the consultation were:
– further improvements to mental health services, including education and communication;
– increased collaboration between DVA and Defence, particularly as members transition out of the Australian Defence Force (ADF); and
– further research into the impact of military service on current and former serving members and their families.
“Tackling the mental health challenges facing veterans and their families is a key priority for the Government,” Mr Tehan said.
“Defence and DVA have made significant improvements to the provision of mental health care since the Vietnam era, and this was acknowledged by members of the ESORT during consultation.
“From July 1 2016, mental health treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and alcohol and substance abuse disorders is free for anyone who has served at least one day in the permanent ADF.
“Defence and DVA are working closely together on a broad range of issues, and the transition period is a key focus of the increased collaboration.
“Transition management is a priority issue for the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans’ Mental Health and the Government will ensure that no ADF personnel are discharged without all their necessary documentation.
“DVA and Defence are also collaborating on the $5 million Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme to examine the impact of contemporary military service on the mental, physical and social health of serving, ex-serving ADF personnel, and their families.
“This research includes the Family Wellbeing Study, investigating the challenges experienced by families of transitioned ADF members and comparing those challenges to those experienced by families of current serving members.
“In direct response to the ESORT feedback, DVA will commission a research project to analyse the data gathered in the Vietnam Veterans’ Family Study about the effects of military service on spouses and partners.”
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.