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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

15 March 2019

Government commits $2.1 million to anti-malarial initiative

Funding has today been announced for a new $2.1 million initiative to support veterans who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial drugs mefloquine or tafenoquine.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester said this initiative will be implemented from 1 July 2019, and deliver a national program to concerned veterans with the option to receive a comprehensive health assessment to identify service-related illness, disease and injury.

This initiative responds to concerns heard from veterans during both the recent Senate Inquiry and the mefloquine and tafenoquine consultation forums coordinated across Australia last year.

"The Government is pleased to present to Parliament its response to the Senate Inquiry into the use of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)," Mr Chester said.

"We largely support the views of the Senate Inquiry Committee and its recommendations, and we acknowledge that some current and former ADF personnel have complex health concerns."

The evidence provided to the Inquiry adds to the Government's understanding of how it can further serve and support veterans and their families.

Mr Chester also thanked the individuals and organisations who participated in the Inquiry for their contribution to this important issue.

"I would also like to acknowledge everyone who put forward their views on what is an important issue this Government takes very seriously," Mr Chester said.

"For some it was a difficult process to provide details about their concerns. Should any of these individuals need support, or someone to talk to, Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides 24/7, free, confidential, national-wide counselling.

"For those veterans who are who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial medications mefloquine and tafenoquine or are seeking information about support available, please contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA)."

Additionally, the report by the University of Queensland on the Self-reported health of Australian Defence Force personnel after use of anti-malarial drugs on deployment has also been released today.

"This is part of the Government's ongoing efforts to understand the effects of some of these medications used in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)," Mr Chester said.

A copy of the full Government response will shortly be available on the Senate Inquiry website.

The Self-reported health of Australian Defence Force personnel after use of anti-malarial drugs on deployment report is available on the DVA's website.

DVA can be contacted on the designated 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) phone line for support.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Rachel Tharratt: 0419 034 302
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466
Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

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