The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) has called for urgent action to address the recommendations of the Interim Report handed down by the Commissioners of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
The RSL welcomed the Report with the ex-service organisation recognising its release as an important milestone in the Royal Commission process. It extended it thanks and gratitude to the Commissioners for their important and insightful work to date.
Throughout the Royal Commission process to date, RSL Australia has worked with RSL State Branches across the country to collectively introduce solutions that aim to address some of the issues highlighted by the Royal Commission, including helping to reduce the complexity that veterans and their families encounter. To achieve this, the RSL has initiated a pilot ‘Catalogue of Services’ program, to develop a web/app tool that will enable veterans and their families to more effectively find and access the vital services and support they need. It is expected to launch later in 2022.
In response to the Interim Report, the RSL supports the Commission’s call for the Australian Government and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to take urgent and immediate steps to fix problems with the processing of claims for veterans and provide adequate and sustainable funding to address these issues. This is a position that the RSL has highlighted and maintained from the outset of the Royal Commission process and is pleased to see its inclusion in these key recommendations.
While the Interim Report largely focuses on the operations of the Department of Veteran Affairs and the evidence process of the Royal Commission, the RSL recognises there are improvements that can and need to be made in the Ex-Service Organisation (ESO) sector.
RSL Australia President Greg Melick says the RSL is committed to working with the Commissioners, ESOs and other stakeholders to address these issues and prioritise improvements that will help meet the urgent needs of the Defence community, veterans, and their families.
“Although it has not appeared as one of the Interim Report’s urgent recommendations, the RSL acknowledges that a key theme emerging from the Royal Commission Hearings is the complexity our veterans face when accessing support services. This issue is one that is of particular concern to us,” Greg Melick said.
“The RSL is committed to promptly addressing the issues and priorities of our Defence community; this is the reason why the RSL will be establishing a forum later this year that brings together stakeholders from across the ESO ecosystem. This will take place in November and provide an opportunity for us, as a sector that exists to serve the needs of veterans and their families, to identify ways we can collectively work together in a structure and manner that better fulfills this purpose.
“With its network of 150,000 members, 1150 sub-Branches, and a 105-year history, the RSL has the experience, expertise, and resources needed to assist the driving of this collaboration to maximise the wellbeing of Australia’s Defence members and veteran community.
“This is the reason why ESOs need to establish such a forum later this year to bring together stakeholders from across the ESO ecosystem. This will take place in November and provide an opportunity for us, as a sector that exists to serve the needs of veterans and their families, to identify ways we can collectively work together in a structure and manner that better fulfills this purpose.
“It is critical that action is taken to address these issues, which is why we are proactively addressing this as a priority, despite it not being a core recommendation in findings presented by today’s Interim Report,” Greg Melick said.
Moving forward, now with the findings of the Interim Report, the RSL will continue to strive to be the voice of Australia’s defence family, driving and influencing progress and prioritisation of the issues and needs that will benefit our community.
ADSO works collaboratively with the RSL for the benefit of the Defence Family to protect its wellbeing and service entitlements.