14 Dec 2015

Support services for veterans will continue to be available throughout the Christmas period, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Simon Lewis PSM, said today.

“Many people, including veterans, do it tough over Christmas, and I want to reassure veterans that should they need it, help is available over the holiday period,” Mr Lewis said.

“While DVA offices will close on Friday, 25 December 2015 and will reopen on Monday, 4 January 2016, veterans and their families can continue to access key DVA services.”

These include:

• Crisis counselling – The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offers 24-hour crisis counselling. This service is available toll free on 1800 011 046 to veterans of all conflicts and their families.

• Access to DVA’s online mental health information and support – Veterans can visit DVA’s At Ease mental health portal

• Transport – if transport is required during this period but has not been pre-booked, DVA clients can pay for the transport up front and seek reimbursement when offices re-open. Alternatively transport can be booked and reviewed, and travel expenses can be claimed online through DVA’s MyAccount at

• Hospital admissions – Doctors can admit DVA patients into hospital and request retrospective approval for the admission, where required, when DVA re-opens.

• Defence Service Homes Insurance – help with policy and claim enquiries is available 24-hours a day on 1300 552 662. Payments can be made on 1300 304 989 or via the DSH website

Mr Lewis said it was also important to note that pension payments that would normally be paid on Thursday, 24 December will be paid into bank accounts on Wednesday, 23 December 2015. The first pension payment in 2016 will be made on schedule on 7 January 2016.

“On behalf of the Department, I extend my best wishes for the festive season to all members of the veteran, defence force and ex-service communities and their families,” Mr Lewis said.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line 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 4546).