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Media releases

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel


20 January 2020

Support available to veterans affected by bushfires

OVER 50,000 Australian military veterans live in communities affected by this season’s unprecedented bushfires and there is support available to them through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said today.

“While I’m in Gippsland supporting my electorate through this challenging time, I know many in the veteran community have also been affected by the bushfires,” Mr Chester said.

“In addition, many veterans have assisted in firefighting activities and are now using their unique skills to support bushfire recovery efforts. I thank them for the work they are doing and know it is greatly appreciated by local communities who are doing it tough.”

Mr Chester said veterans can access support by contacting the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, including financial, health and mental health, and home insurance support.

Veteran and defence communities can access a range of services, including the following:

  • Veterans and their families requiring emergency counselling support (24/7) should call Open Arms on 1800 011 046. There is also information on recovering from trauma or dealing with triggers on the Open Arms website.
  • For Defence Service Homes Insurance information and claims call 1300 552 662 or visit the website.
  • DVA clients eligible for income support and service pensions may be eligible for a one-off Crisis payments (see Factsheet IS121 - Crisis Payments).
  • The Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment is a one-off payment managed by the Department of Human Services. For eligibility information and how to claim visit the website or call 180 22 66.
  • The Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) can be contacted on 1800 555 254 to assist with a wide range of issues, including replacement of aids and appliances, ensuring availability of pharmaceuticals, and arranging transportation to medical appointments.

In addition, the Australian Government is providing $76 million through the National Bushfire Recovery Fund for mental health services and support. This includes funding for free counselling sessions, extra Medicare and tele-health consultations, an expansion of headspace services for young Australians, and community recovery initiatives.



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