Tehan Media Release – Addressing mefloquine concerns

15 Sep 2016

Addressing mefloquine concernsDan Tehan

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has established a dedicated mefloquine support team for our serving and ex-serving community.
In its response to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Report on Mental Health of Australian Defence Force (ADF) Members and Veterans, the Australian Government committed to additional support for current and former ADF members who have been administered mefloquine.

The Government will:
– establish a formal community consultation mechanism to provide an open dialogue on issues concerning mefloquine between the Defence Links Committee and the serving and ex-serving ADF community;

– develop a more comprehensive online resource that will provide information on anti-malarial medications;

– establish a dedicated DVA mefloquine support team to assist our serving and ex-serving ADF community with mefloquine-related claims, which will provide a specialised point of contact with DVA; and

– direct the inter-departmental DVA-Defence Links Committee to examine the issues raised, consider existing relevant medical evidence and provide advice to the Government by November 2016.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Dan Tehan said the Government was committed to supporting veterans and ADF personnel who were concerned about possible side-effects of taking mefloquine.

“Any former member who was administered mefloquine by the ADF and is concerned about possible side effects, can lodge a claim for a condition that they think was caused by mefloquine. As part of the claims process for the condition, DVA can arrange an appointment with an appropriate medical practitioner and meet the costs of any required medical report,” Mr Tehan said.

“Current and former ADF personnel can also access free mental health treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, as well as alcohol and substance use disorders, without having to prove it is service related. From 1 July 2016, eligibility for this treatment has been extended to all past and present fulltime members of the ADF who served one day or more, regardless of when they served, or the nature of their service.

“The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service provides free, confidential, nation-wide counselling and support for eligible current and former ADF members and their families. The VVCS can be contacted 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

“My message to veterans and ADF personnel is if you are worried about how you are coping or feeling, then seek help early. If you know someone and are worried about them, speak up and ask them if they are OK.”

The Government has announced it will establish the first of 12 Suicide Prevention Trial Sites in North Queensland — home to a large ADF and veteran community — with a focus on veterans’ mental health.

Additionally, the National Mental Health Commission will review suicide and self-harm prevention services available to veterans and ADF members.

Media enquiries:
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.