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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

MEDIA RELEASE

24 May 2018
VA037

Expanding essential services for veterans and their families

VETERANS and their families will have greater access to essential services with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester introducing the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Veteran-Centric Reforms No. 2) Bill 2018 (VCR Bill) today.

“The measures introduced today will continue to ensure veterans and their families get the services and support they need,” Mr Chester said.

“As a government we are determined to put veterans and their families first.

“Mental health continues to be a big issue in communities throughout the country and we provide free mental health care to anyone who has served for one day in the Australian Defence Force. We will be establishing a new Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot to deliver intensive and assertive management services to veterans following an attempted suicide or to those at significant risk of suicide.

“This pilot is about linking non-government and government support services to support vulnerable veterans’ and their families and will be offered at nine public and private hospitals in Brisbane.

“We want to encourage and support those studying with a view to getting them back into the workforce. This is why we will remove the reduction in the amount of incapacity payment which normally occurs after 45 weeks for those undertaking approved full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan. This will mean veterans can focus on their study without having to worry about changes to their financial situation.”
The Bill will also enable the grandchildren of Vietnam veterans to be eligible to receive financial support to further their education through the Long Tan Bursary Scheme.

“We will continue to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served our country in Vietnam by extending this support to their grandchildren,” Mr Chester said.

“Families who have suffered the tragic loss of a partner and who are wholly dependent partners of veterans will have two years to decide how to receive the compensation in periodic payments or as a lump sum, which is an increase from the current six months.

“The loss of a loved one is life changing and an incredible challenging time for any family, this change will remove the pressure to make an immediate decision so that they can make the best choice for their needs.

“This legislation re-affirms the Turnbull Government’s commitment to put veterans and their families at the centre of everything that we do.”

Other measures in the Bill will include allowing claims for compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) to be made orally as well as in writing. This Bill will allow for some of the measures announced in the 2018-19 Budget to be implemented.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Whil Prendergast: 0427 672 815
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466
Office of the Hon. Darren Chester MP, Canberra.

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au