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Media releases

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

Liz Cosson AM CSC
Secretary, Department of Veterans' Affairs

Open Letter

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

A message for veterans and their families

Australian service men and women have a well-earned reputation for resilience, adaptability, and helping their mates.

Those who have served our country in uniform can be proud of their contribution to Australia.

The coronavirus pandemic represents an unprecedented challenge for all Australians. While the Australian Government is focused on supporting the wellbeing of its citizens and the health of the nation, the veteran community can be assured that DVA is focussed on delivering the support and services veterans and their families need at this difficult time.

DVA has been supporting Australian veterans for over 100 years and our number one priority is the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families. These are challenging times, but help is available.

Our department is working closely with partner agencies, veterans' organisations and health providers to steer our way through this crisis. We are adapting our processes to respond to the needs of the veteran community, but rest assured we are open for business. Please reach out for the support you need via the website or through our Veterans' Access Network by calling 1800 555 254.

One of the most important ways to protect your health at this time is to continue accessing the health services that you need. Stay engaged with your GP via the phone and if your GP recommends that you need to visit for an appointment, our transport services remain available to help you access treatment. You can make a booking by calling 1800 550 455.

It is also vitally important to look after your mental health at this time. Maintaining contact with family or friends is important, as is a healthy lifestyle, staying informed, staying positive and reaching out for support when you need it. All veterans can access free mental health care. Again, your GP can help you to access the mental health care you need and your DVA card covers the cost of mental health treatment.

The Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling Service is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. So please, if you need assistance or someone to talk to, call 1800 011 046. There is also a range of tools available on the Open Arms website to support you and your family through this crisis.

We encourage the veteran community to stay informed by accessing the latest COVID-19 news, advice and public health information at Australia.gov.au or by downloading the ‘Coronavirus Australia’ app from the Apple and Google Play stores. The app also contains important information about a range of economic supports the Government has put in place for members of the community impacted by the pandemic.

Finally, for veterans, or friends and family of veterans, who may not have an existing relationship with the department, we encourage you to get in touch and find out how we can help you in this challenging time. Contact us via MyService or call 1800 555 254.

Together, we will get through this.

Darren Chester & Liz Cosson

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820
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 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au