Veteran refused care – because DVA is paying

There were rumours in the veteran community that some health-care providers, including psychiatrists, are refusing to see military veterans as patients.

I found out the hard way that the rumours are true.


ABC News This story was noticed by the ABC and run as a news
feature on The World Today on 26 March 2018.

Listen to the radio segment here
View their web story here



It took me a very long time to admit that I might need to see a psychiatrist.

When I did ‘give in’ at the urging of friends and family, I went to my GP to get a referral to a psych who was recommended by a friend.

With the GP’s referral in hand, I further procrastinated for months before eventually ringing for an appointment – only to be told that this doctor wasn’t taking on any new patients and hasn’t for more than four years.

Disappointing, but OK.

More weeks passed before I went back to the GP for a new referral – this time to someone she recommended – “I think you and he will get on well from an age and personality point of view,” she said.


I note here that DVA and the minister are ever keen to advertise, “if you have had full-time service in the ADF, you are eligible to receive treatment for any mental health condition” – and DVA “covers the entire cost of your treatment for any mental-health condition” – I see it repeated over and over in their press releases.

And, when they say it, they never mention any ifs, buts or maybes – no caveats – a whole new attitude towards veterans’ entitlements and easier access to mental-health care.

To underline this new attitude, when I filled out the appropriate DVA form and sent it off, approval came back within 20 minutes!!!

Awesome. Confidence building.

By now I’m fully convinced I need and even want to go. I’m committed. I’m determined. No more procrastinating.

So I ring the second psychiatrist’s office the same day and ask nicely for an appointment.

I was told the next available appointment was six weeks away – but that was fine with me because I was about to go on holidays.

As requested, I immediately emailed them my GP referral – along with DVA’s agreement to pay.

Two days later, the psychiatrist’s secretary rings back and says, “I’m very sorry, but Dr XXX is unwilling to take on any new DVA patients at this time”.

I asked why, but she could only repeat the message.

Gobsmacked. Upset. Deflated. Set back.

I thought about this for a while. Calmed down.

And came to the conclusion that maybe it wasn’t just this doctor.

What if this is a bigger issue?

And what if a suicidal veteran or ‘emergency case’ was told ‘no veteran’s allowed’?

So I went looking for answers.

I posed a range of questions to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, a separate set of questions to the Australian Medical Association, and formally offered the doctor a chance to also clarify his position.

The AMA responded within 24 hours – the doctor an hour after that – and DVA – well it was 69 hours later, and 17 hours after the deadline I gave them.

The AMA’s bottom line was that doctors were not obliged to accept DVA cards for payment – and, in fact, the AMA said they had long been aware that an ever-increasing number of medical-service providers were refusing DVA cards for payment.

Warwick Hough, Director of the AMA’s General Practice and Workplace Policy Department said the problem was that DVA’s fee schedule had been frozen since 2012, but even before that, DVA generally paid a lower fee for services than a medical practitioner would otherwise charge.

“While many doctors, in recognition of a veteran’s service, are still willing to accept a lower fee, the lack of fee indexation has forced many to reconsider this,” Mr Hough said.

He cited a report on a survey of medical practitioners that the AMA conducted in March last year that found, “the indexation freeze is clearly having an impact on access to care for veterans and this will only get worse over time”.

“Only 71.3 per cent of specialists are currently continuing to treat all veterans under DVA, with the remainder adopting a range of approaches including closing their books to new DVA-funded patients or treating some as private or public patients,” the 11-month-old survey report said.

Mr Hough said it was now well known that veterans often struggle to access psychiatric services under DVA-funded arrangements.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs agreed with the AMA that, “Health care providers in private practice, including psychiatrists, are free to choose how to run their business”.

“This means they can choose who they see as patients, the operating hours of the practice and how much they will charge.

“This also includes whether or not to provide treatment under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs arrangements.”

They also said that in the event that a practitioner does not accept DVA patients, DVA could provide assistance to identify another practitioner, provide transport assistance, or consider a request from the practitioner to fund services at a cost above the DVA fee, which would be determined on clinical need and consideration to the patient’s ability to reasonably access another practitioner.

The doctor who refused to take me on as a DVA patient phoned me to directly explain his position.

He said his current policy was not to accept any new DVA patients where a DVA card was the preferred payment method, simply because DVA did not pay a fair and reasonable fee.

He also said that he was legally barred from charging veteran clients a ‘gap’ under a DVA-payment arrangement, even if they were willing.

“On the other hand, if you or any other veteran want to come to me as a Medicare client and pay the Medicare ‘gap’, I’m more than happy to take you on,” he said.

The DVA spokesperson said DVA was aware of individual instances of health-care providers not accepting DVA arrangements.

“These do not suggest this is a wide-spread issue impacting on veterans’ and war widows’ ability to access clinically necessary treatment,” she said.

“Overall, the number of psychiatrists providing services to DVA clients has increased over time.”

The AMA disagreed.

AMA’s survey of members, which was conducted 11 months ago following growing numbers of anecdotal feedback from GP and other specialist members that veterans were facing increasing barriers to accessing specialist medical care, says, “the indexation freeze is clearly having an impact on access to care for veterans and this will only get worse over time”.

“The continuation of the indexation freeze puts a significant question mark over the future viability of the DVA funding arrangements and the continued access to quality specialist care for veterans.”

On current trend, the AMA survey predicts the number of doctors willing to see DVA-funded clients could easily fall well below 50 per cent.

Mr Hough said that while DVA arrangements were generally marketed by government as giving the same access to health care for veterans as privately billed patients, the funding provided did not match this commitment.

“There is a great deal of reliance on the good will of the profession and it would seem to the AMA that the government has chosen to test this good will with an extended fee freeze.

“Not surprisingly, this is now starting to impact on veterans’ access to care.”


As I said at the start, my personal experience put truth to a rumour floating around the veteran community – and opened a can of worms on a much bigger issue.

I felt compelled to pursue this, not for myself, but ‘for the greater good’.

Sitting down to think about this incident and how it made me feel, I had to reflect, “what if a truly needy patient experienced this”. The answer is scary.

There is obviously a bigger issue here than DVA or the government is willing to admit. But surely they will have to eventually.

The AMA said that a very similar situation was brought to a head in 2006, and when the government was eventually forced to fix the problem, it cost $600million.

So, yes, I concede the ultimate solution may be expensive.

But procrastination could easily cost more veterans’ their lives.

How much are those worth?


FURTHER NOTE: Having had time to reflect on this, I have decided that my concerns on this specific issue could be eased by a very simple fix that would cost nothing…

…the simple truth.

If DVA forewarned veterans that “Not all service providers are willing to accept DVA-funded veterans as clients” – then the shock of rejection could be greatly reduced.

It’s a simple matter of delivering good intelligence – something service members are used to receiving.


ANOTHER NOTE: The day after I sent my questions on this issue to the DVA Media team, someone from DVA phoned and offered to research a list of psychiatrists who do accept new DVA-funded clients in my area. The day after that he provided six names – almost 48 hours before DVA Media provided their answers (which were 17 hours late, based on the deadline I gave them).

It eventually took me another three months to seek and get a psych appointment (mid August) – but I did get 5 week’s Guinness therapy in Ireland to tide me over 😉

I even got to pour my own pints!

However, this DVA nominated psychiatrist told me I did not have PTSD and there was nothing else he could do for me.

Many more months later I went to another psychiatrist (my fourth in this saga), who told me I definitely did have PTSD, as well as depression and anxiety, for which I am now, eventually, getting treatment – and for which DVA has accepted liability and given me a Gold Card and pension.


Find a follow-up story on this issue here.


Find the full set of questions posed to DVA and the AMA plus their answers in the 1 March 2018 issue of CONTACT Air Land & Sea magazine, here.



This story was picked up by the ABC and run as a news feature on The World Today, 26 March 2018. Listen to the radio segment here and view their web story here.



“Open Arms” (what used to be called the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service) provides crisis support and counselling 24/7 on 1800 011 046









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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

52 thoughts on “Veteran refused care – because DVA is paying

  • 09/08/2023 at 8:13 pm

    I know this is from 5 1/2 years ago but i just tried to make an appointment today with a specialist I have seen previously as was told that ‘Sorry, Dr XXX is no longer accepting or treating DVA patients as they pay late and their fees are far below the standard fee schedule’.

    I then called 5 other specialists of the same flavour and guess what – all dont take DVA.

    Keep in mind this is for a DVA accepted condition I have .. but I cant get any medical help as DVA wont change their fee schedule.

    I cant believe how pathetic DVA are.

    This issue will affect my way of life and cause severe issues, yet I have to try and live with it or condider other alternatives.

    Yep, for the last 6yrs DVA have driven me to a dark place and I bet they’ll be happy when I take my own life.

  • 16/02/2021 at 11:08 am

    Would you be surprised that it’s not just mental health support that medical practitioners are declining if you are a DVA (White or Gold) cardholder, but any medical or health service.

    I am ex-RAAF and have Bi-Lateral Foot Drop where I have no movement in my ankles at all and a host of other issues. When I was still in service and getting treated I had a great neuro orthotist rehab specialist that defence was paying. As soon as I got the medical discharge he told me that he doesn’t deal with DVA as they pay a fraction of the fee and take months to pay him, compared with defence. So he essentially sacked me as a client. He did tell me if I registered for the NDIS he could see me, but when I approached DVA about this they said it was illegal to be registered for both NDIS and DVA and that if I registered for NDIS they would cut me off.

    I also had to shop around for a new ENT, Respiratory specialist, exercise physiologist, and physiotherapist, orthopedic surgeon, and, yes, a new psychiatrist. All my treating medical specialist that I saw whilst I was in Defence (Keep in mind they are defence accepted and approved medical professionals that I was referred to my Defence GP) didn’t accept DVA White or Gold cards at all due to the stupid low fees DVA paid them.

    Someone needs to burn the DVA system to the ground and rebuild it to make it actually work for veterans.

    No wonder the suicide rate of veterans is so high.

    How many more people need to die before change happens??

  • 27/02/2019 at 7:03 pm

    I was told I could live overseas, and then I was told I could have nothing unless I came back. I am back. The public servants, en mass, are writing endless streams of information to navigate on their site, or be confused by.
    I have a Gold Card. I am now told to go searching myself. I was crippled, house- and then bed-bound in excruciating pain for over 25 years. I found a protocol that helped … slowly and it has taken nearly 10 years. I have paid for the drugs, twice being told they “might” reimburse me. I wasted hundreds of dollars on the first letter from my physician …
    Now I am told that I have to go looking for a doctor, looking for …
    Why are these public servants, masses of them, being paid to send us running in circles … when we can muster up the energy?

  • 13/01/2019 at 3:09 pm

    I have been dealing with DVA for some 30 odd years and what the comments are echoing is what we also went through and are still going through. the old saying is united we stand and divided we fall. I invite you all to contact Veterans Support at Granville on 0296821788. Leave your name and contact and we will form a support front to address all your entitlements. We will assist you at no cost with appeals, advice, claims and finding the specialists that you are seeking under the DVA card for your treatment. My name is ( Jim ) James Wrigley committee member at Granville also welfare officer at Bankstown RSL Sub Branch. Help us to help you.

    • 27/02/2019 at 7:09 pm

      I have been disabled since Dec 1990 after being sprayed with a chemical directly in my face. Not really an accident, the person knew it was deadly and was ONLY supposed to be in hangars, requiring full protective gear … but, it was so good at killing flies.
      I have been mostly bed-bound with excruciating pain for over 25 years. I found a protocol that could help when I was very close to death, I estimate a few months left. I have struggled and … I asked for help, letting them know I would die without these drugs but I wanted to try. I was told to buy my own.
      10 years later I am finally able to make it back to Australia where I am supposed to have help from those paid to help Vets.
      Today I was sent some links to try.
      I was also told a couple of times to get a letter from my doctor. I paid about $350 the first time and they summarily dismissed it. This time they sent another carrot to smell. It stinks.

  • 18/05/2018 at 11:17 pm

    The non-liability provisions are a con, and I wish I’d known about all of these issues with fees and being able to access treatment before I was encouraged to apply for a DVA card.

    I got sucked in by a psychology practice which advertised that they accepted DVA patients, so I applied for and got a white card. I discovered too late that they were charging a gap fee on top of directly billing DVA. I didn’t feel as if I could speak up because my mental health problems are almost entirely non-service-related and I thought I’d be perceived as greedy for disputing the (illegal) extra fee, after all I was still getting more than I’d get through Medicare so perhaps I should just be grateful, plus I was worried that if I spoke up or reported them they might stop treating active-service veterans who had no other options and I didn’t want the responsibility of that.

    I stopped going there but am now worse off financially than I was before I applied for the card, because now that DVA has recognised my mental health conditions my health fund won’t pay extras benefits for them (but I’m still paying the same premium).

  • 19/03/2018 at 4:24 am

    I am 100% disabled under one act and more under another act under DVA accepted conditions , but dva will not even combine them . I have specialist reports and DVA just fob them off and specialist is not happy . I have not long left as 3B ulcerated melanoma cancer DVA accepted as i was 16 in navy before my army time . Dva has not had one of their DVA doctors even look at me but call all other specialist as idiots . I know why we kill ourselves and when it get this bad and cannot even come home to die in country i went to nam for and served my country who hate us and DVA want us dead . Maybe that is the only reason NOT TO to give DVA the shits. Take care from IN PAIN

    • 10/05/2018 at 6:25 pm

      TRY TO GET DVA to help , a flight to the moon would be easier . THE AAT is also another DVA tactic to make you just kill yourself to save DVA money . NO HELP FROM DVA . It takes so ling to even get a yes from DVA on the subject of PTSD so you get to kill yourself first . THEY DO NOT CARE they just say what they think you want to hear and do not care at all , infact they wish we would all just kill ourselves as they are that stupid to realise they would be out of their high paying job . See you in the next life and what ever you do DO NOT JOIN THE MILITARY

      • 27/02/2019 at 7:16 pm

        Join the public service and get more pay, more benefits, more time off, regular hours, holiday time, personal time off, stress leave, sick leave, work 9 to 5 or flexi time… get a pension for breast cancer and go back to work and continue to collect your pension working for DVA.

  • 14/03/2018 at 11:12 am

    Psychiatric Consultation and Assistance Facts
    Based on the concerns expressed via this means of individuals not being able to seek the appropriate psychiatry consultations we sought the appropriate advice form DVA who have been quick to respond with the some helpful details as per the information for all to consider below. Of particular interest please read para 6 below which is of real benefit if you are having difficulties in getting psychiatric help
    1. “In Australia, health care providers in private practice, including psychiatrists, are free to choose how to run their business. This means they can choose who they see as patients, the operating hours of the practice and how much they will charge. This includes whether or not to provide treatment under DVA arrangements.
    2. DVA is aware of individual instances of health care providers not accepting DVA arrangements. This does not suggest this is a wide-spread issue impacting on veterans’ and war widows’ ability to access clinically necessary treatment.
    3. Over the last five years there has been a steady increase in both the number of clients accessing psychiatry services for the first time and in the number of psychiatrists providing services to DVA clients.
    4. The number of psychiatry consultations for those clients who have started psychiatric treatment for the first time has increased from just over 1,600 in 2012-13 to nearly 2,900 in 2016-17.
    5. The number of providers of psychiatric services to DVA clients has increased from just over 1,300 in 2012-13 to nearly 1,700 in 2016-17.
    6. In the event that a health care provider does not accept DVA fees or there are no providers locally available, DVA can provide assistance to identify another provider, provide transport assistance, or consider a request from the practitioner to fund services at a cost above the DVA fee. A request to pay above the DVA fee would be determined on the basis of clinical need, and give consideration to the patient’s ability to reasonably access another provider. If a DVA client is experiencing difficulty in locating a health care provider who will accept DVA health cards they should contact the Department on Freecall 1800 555 254.
    7. If there is any concern, immediate assistance can be provided by the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), which provides a free and confidential 24 hour counselling service for eligible veterans and their families on 1800 011 046.”
    We all know that nothing in life is perfect but in this case DVA have responded quickly to accommodate any individual who may be seeking help. Early intervention is vital and if you’re experiencing a constant or even isolated mental health issue put your hand up and go and get some help. All of us have done it from time to time and as an Alpha type it does not diminish, tarnish, stigmatize of whom, what you really are. Unless we know who is having a problem we can’t help and that is unfair on the individual and his/her family and peer group. Help in this area is free via DVA so there can be no excuse in not addressing an issue discretely and confidentially through your preferred provider.
    Michael von Berg MC OAM
    Chair and National President Royal Australian Regiment, Australia. (RAR)
    Reposted ; – Jeffrey Barrett, Member RAR, Vice President 3 RAR Assoc SA..

    • 12/05/2018 at 7:51 pm

      What a load of CRAP . , DVA just want one dead . To get help , HA HA . then DR Morris steps in FOR CRUEL DVA and says FUCK OFF for dVA , He is the next target for Veterans as Morris is the link to have you dead as MORRIS “”says do not believe anything I DO NOT WRITE OR HELP WITH”” so no you may have lost your leg in war but DR Morris is not paid to help and says NO YOU JUST LEFT IT OUTSIDE , I tripped over it on way in , but it bid look like a blind dog , but .

    • 16/02/2021 at 11:11 am

      What a load of shit. DVA put so many roadblocks up that veterans can’t navigate their system.

      How naive are you to think DVA care!!

      • 16/02/2021 at 11:27 am

        Thanks for your ‘understanding‘ Tim 😉

  • 12/03/2018 at 11:47 am

    Hi All,
    Please do not be fooled by Veteran and Veteran Family Services, the old Vietnam Veterans Counseling Service is independent extremely helpful.

    This is far from the case.

    Firstly it is run and totally operated by the DVA. All counselors are on contract to the DVA, via the service and have to submit reports in relation to services supplied and content of sessions involved. They do this under the condition of paying for the service, contrary to Ethics, and patients Rights, and Professional Ethics to the Professional Body that Registers them.

    DVA pays all the internal staff, pays for all the equipment and computers. the staff working on your files today, could be working on your Psych file next week. Do you feel that you have had a breach of your confidential medical files now.

    DVA is playing games with us and has for years. anyone who rocks the boat has a separate file in Canberra. The DVA has no Ethic, no honour or any Courage. They hide behind Lawyers, there Lawyers are no better than the Clients they represent. They Lie, they cheat and they break the law also, in the name of there client.

    The DVA destroy documents when it suits them, How do I know, they have done it to me, I fought them and proved them wrong.

    • 24/05/2018 at 4:23 pm

      DVA read a file , that is the joke for 2018 , yes destroy them yes , understand them NO give help NO, A new act to even stop us more DRCA ?? MRCA?? next year the new act should be SELFKILLCA? They want you dead NOW BOY. Help is only for staff who work for DVA and the bonus is you get us to kill ourselves and you get a pay rise and better position , so they are like military but better as they get you to do the dirty work and get paid to kill NOT HELP. There must be a lot of sick people if they cannot find time to help or charge a little less and who would want to see a money only person for help ? No money, no help ,what a specialist so they would not do the job then anyway ,so veterans should swamp Canberra in person and demand help , They have no idea about military service but get to send you to war for who or whom ? Is it money or is it the sale of guns or just to be a boss?

  • 06/03/2018 at 10:43 pm

    The DVA Long Con: DVA’s Fee Schedule Forcing Drs’ to Reject Veteran’ – The DVA Engineered Barrier Implemented in 2011

    In recent reporting e.g. Contact Magazine, the growing Barrier-to-Care in respect of accessing Drs’ who no longer accept Veterans’ as patients, has generated quite a bit of attention.

    As detailed in this recent media, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) reported to Contact Magazine, it is aware via Dr. Surveys, many Drs’ are being forced to Reject Veteran’ patients seeking medical services due to DVA’s Fee Schedule.

    As an observer of many things DVA, I know (i) what DVA state in media releases e.g. Non-Liability-Health-Care (NLHC) is just pure good ole fashioned bullshit – ‘bullshit’ DVA manufacture to (ii) misdirect people away from, and conceal, a corresponding defeating action or countermove already sewn into the programme being promoted.

    Basically, what DVA says to ESO’s, Media and the General Public already conceals a ‘counter-move’ buried deep within the detail elsewhere – and a ‘counter-move’ with usually one objective… to save money!

    The issue of Drs’ refusing to see Veteran’ patients has been a building problem. Moreover, DVA knew as early as 2010 this particular issue would get worse over time… they even knew ‘how much’ $ they would save.

    What the Veteran’ community must come to understand about DVA is: every issue, such as this growing barrier to treatment, is deliberate and engineered by DVA and Treasury, often contrived and executed many years’ earlier…… Just about every dirty scheme government, treasury and DVA cook up can be found buried in older DVA reports…. This ‘DVA Fee Schedule’ issue forcing more and more Drs’ to reject Veterans’ can also be identified in older DVA planning documents and reports.

    What you will see below is classic DVA Double-Speak where a positive sounding passage is actually concealing a program of expenditure cuts and savings behind the term ‘efficient’ —– you may also notice the same sentence actually states where the savings will flow from i.e. the ‘more efficient procedures’ (DVA code for new formula) underpinning the ‘DVA Fee Schedules’ paid to Drs.

    To use the language of a digger, which I am, these bastards rigged the system by design and on purpose…. It was always a Long Con folks and of course, just another demonstration of how DVA and Government ‘Salute Your Service’.:-
    Government response to review of military compensation arrangements

    The Government Response (2011)

    The Government has allocated $17.4 million over four years to implement the package responding to the Review.

    The Government’s response comprises an additional $39.6 million of expenditure over four years.

    The initiative to issue Repatriation Health Cards to SRCA clients, with long term treatment needs, will generate savings for the Government of $22.2 million over four years through more efficient procedures and use of the DVA fee schedules.

    The Government has carefully considered the comprehensive report. It has sought advice from the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission and the Repatriation Commission, which examined the recommendations in depth. The Government also sought feedback on the report and there was considerable discussion at both the departmental and ministerial level with ex-service organisations, other agencies and their Ministers.

  • 25/02/2018 at 2:55 pm

    I guess I am just one of the lucky ones. Live in regional QLD, travel 150 klms to specialist services, sometimes 340klms, had neuro-surgery, specialist heart treatment, COPD treatment, all at 100% disability. DVA rang my wife who has her own business and is 9 months away from her 60th birthday to remind her that she can retire at 60. Advised her what to do etc… Three years ago she was rung by DVA who advised her to pay me the Work Bonus $250 per fortnight to decrease her business income and increase my fortnightly pension. Maybe the day will come when I too shall share the pain so many of you are experiencing. But at the moment I can’t complain.

  • 20/02/2018 at 10:50 pm

    Well we will all be dead soon and DVA can save some more . Even the politicians only want their CASH IN POCKET so they will not rock the boat . ONLY the one who was kicked out because she was a DUEL citizen , BUT hey how many of us are ABBOS ??? so where are we from ??

  • 19/02/2018 at 11:34 pm

    I have had first-hand experience of DVA’s blatant waste of money. I manage a Regional Community Transport service in NSW that used to transport Vets. Our service provided door to door service, often with an individual support person allocated to the DVA client. We would take them to their appointment, to lunch, or to any other shop or facilities they requested to go to. We didn’t charge for additional support, we didn’t charge for waiting times (which can be up to four hours) and our drivers are highly qualified, undergoing routine medicals, criminal record and working with children checks and driving record inspections. After having our rates at .65c since 1993, in 2014 we dared to put them up to .85c per km. DVA refused to pay. Yet they would book a taxi for the very same trip at the rate of $3.05 per km. Now don’t get me wrong, taxi’s do a great job, but they are kerb to kerb, not door to door. They don’t take clients to lunch or to do a little shopping and they don’t provide individual support. Yet DVA consider them so superior that they will pay them four times (yes that is FOUR TIMES) the amount we requested! Yes, we went to the minister, and yes, we forced a review. That was four years ago! We are still waiting, and our clients are still being forced to take taxis. One client takes a regular monthly trip of just over 600km return. At .85c per km Community Transport would charge $510, but DVA are willing to pay a taxi $1830 plus $60 per hour waiting fee. Please tell me how this is not a blatant waste of tax payers dollars. We want to transport our DVA clients, but we cannot do it for .65c per km. Our funding body (TfNSW) says we cannot use our funding to prop up other underfunded groups – fair enough as DVA should be funding them. So, I feel for services that have made the difficult decision to refuse to take on Vets. It’s not that they don’t want to, but they have to remain sustainable and how can you do that when DVA refuse to pay a fair and reasonable amount for the services they provide, yet extravagantly waste thousands of dollars on services that are much more expensive, yet not as appropriate? But this is a government department. Would we expect any different?

    • 20/02/2018 at 10:26 pm

      Hi I know your strain and pain . In the days passed DVA would send you to a DVA one and he would just tell you to “””””K off and even if you only had one leg they would just fob you off. I have had 45 years of this bull crap and DVA are still fighting it and i have on even now in the Canberra AAT and all the evidence is on military files as injuries.Dealing with DVA is PTSD and worse, now i cannot even live in the country i went to die for and DVA try to dismiss any other countries top specialists. THEY ARE ……… you know the missing words

      • 30/06/2019 at 12:08 pm

        I am a former undergraduate nursing student. I have family that have worked in the military over the generations but have not worked in the military myself. Though not from lack of trying. I have recently been diagnosed with complex PTSD after taking medication for a mis diagnosis of Bipolar for 15 years. This covered symptoms but prevented me taking the right action to heal.

        I just want to say that I know the system is hard-particularly if you don’t have a medical or business background to navigate it.

        A lot of good information on nutrition, exercise, meditation, problem solving, goal setting and PTSD is available online for free.

        Make good use of it….always follow your intuition and never, ever give up. Life is precious, is not necessarily easy to come by (if you believe in afterlife)….and as I have experienced, miracles do happen! Good luck and Take care ??✨

    • 20/02/2018 at 10:52 pm

      Well that is DVA and they will not pay for my time in hospital in 3 countries i had to spend time in

  • 18/02/2018 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you. I am a member of the Veterans MC and also a member of the ACT Government Veterans Advisory Council. I was aware of issues with some specialists and the fees that DVA will pay however I was not aware that it also applied to the non liability mental health care that, as you correctly said, is being mentioned constantly by the government. Just yesterday I was speaking with a Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who suffers PTSD and was espousing the virtues of this great iniative as were some others there with us. Time for an email or two.

    • 18/02/2018 at 6:24 pm

      Thanks Mork. Please do share it. The more people who know, the more pressure can be brought to bear. Also, my main point from all of this is less to do with the rejection, and much more to do with the ‘lies of omission’ peddled every day.

      • 19/02/2018 at 8:25 am

        Hi Brian,
        Please could you email me a copy of this article in full ? I shall take it up with the RSL National body immediately and progress it with several other National ESO bodies. I was aware of the problem as a minor one but now this significant escalation calls for a wide spread effort to correct it. The new Minister must act to live up to Tehan’s earlier claims of mental health care improvement and re-financing which are not coming to pass.

      • 20/02/2018 at 10:55 pm

        WE were promised when we joined at 15-16 that dva would look after us . What a lie and some they do not even help to bury . And the ABUSE was something to think about

  • 18/02/2018 at 4:18 pm

    Only 2 years ago, I was extremely low, I had just failed in a suicide attempt. I went to see my psychologist of 6 years, she terminated her care of me instantly. Just told “I can not help you”.

    So back to GP to be referred to another one, got referral, made appointment for the following week. Attended appointment, still extremely low, at end of appointment I made another for the following week. Arrived for appointment, went in and he started the appointment with “I will not be able to treat you, I can not afford being paid at the DVA rate. I asked for option, there are none, I can not get private health cover and it is illegal for me to pay the gap, so no treatment at all.

    The only saving grace was Heidelberg’s ward 17 was prepared to admit within 12 hours. So long taxi ride from Albury to Melbourne the next day and 4 weeks in the ward, new medication for mental illness, finally the correct diagnosis and treatment starts. I am still under their care as an outpatient, so travel the 680 km every 4-6 weeks as no one in the area will care for me whlist DVA is paying the bills.

    • 18/02/2018 at 4:58 pm

      WOW!!! Thank you for sharing.

    • 20/02/2018 at 10:31 pm

      Sorry to hear it and read it . DVA do not care i had to fly 2000klm to get help and DVA still do not want to care or pay

  • 18/02/2018 at 2:50 pm

    Another disgusting set of circumstances. I am not a veteran in terms of active service but I do hold a white card. Many practiciiners will not accept the white card for conditions I am covered for for various reasons including paperwork, delays in getting paid etc. So I often do things through Medicare. Essentially shifting the responsibility from one government department to another.

    Recently, there was a big hue and cry in Canada over veterans needs for a huge range of things, that Prime Minister in public, answered a veteran’s question by saying they couldn’t afford it.

    My answer here is exactly the same; whenever a government is considering sending our men and women off to war, the cost of looking after the people putting their very life on the line, should be factored into the total deployment cost. If the answer is ‘we can’t afford it’ then we don’t go. There are many fields of goverment funding is not as crucial, and those are the areas where funding can be reduced without the same disastrous outcomes as not looking after veterans. The services veterans need should not even be the subject of discussion. Anything they need they should get. End of story. ONE suicide is too many. Each day lost by a veteran is a day too many. Each family breakdown, each day of suffering, each day of fighting our own government who sent a veteran to war is unacceptable. Especially when the fight with a government maybe more traumatic than the actual deployment. Have we not learnt from post Vietnam still. There are still suicides from that debacle some 50 years later.

    This whole thing sickens me everyday.

    • 20/02/2018 at 10:33 pm

      i have gold card but only good for SOME Australian crap doctors and NO GOOD world wide , maybe we need a purple card with stripes or a ????

  • 18/02/2018 at 2:30 pm

    I have a Vietnam veteran ex- RAAF friend who is participating in a DNA Survey. The task is aimed at finding a genetic link between an individual’s DNA and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    There have been two similar studies, one in the UK and one in the USA. Neither found definitive links.
    However, if there is even a slight statistical link suggested I can see this test being mandatory at Recruitment plus regularly during service.
    Further, if you have such a propensity to PTSD I can see it as grounds for Recruitment Refusal or later DVA Service Refusal? The insurance companies ate looking for these links to provide service limitations!

    • 11/03/2018 at 6:40 pm

      For decades DVA and its quacks (contractors & so-called Departmental Medical Officers (DMO’s) usually a GP) have attempted to blame many injuries & conditions as ‘congenital’ ailments i.e. you were born with it —— the best example of this ‘congenital’ bullshit has been spinal injuries.

      Added to this, there is a small minority of ex-service people, some in ESO’s, some ‘out there’ in cyber land and sitting in the so-called ‘Public Service’ who attempt to always blame the injured person’ for their respective conditions and injuries.

      Bubbling along over recent years’ there’s this group of civvies, bureaucrats and even ex ADF members’ (usually Officers) that from time-to-time make comments when the PTSD topic comes up in different forums – ‘comments’ that can be summarised as being subjective nonsense that attempts to dismiss Global, Evidence-Based-Research, by basically inferring any Stress, Anxiety, or Depression injury is fundamentally because the person is weak as a result on some ‘congenital’ defect.

      Even though these people don’t often use the ‘your weak’ line or make reference to ‘congenital factors’ they usually expose their inner thoughts by (1) hijacking a serious and broad discussion and (2) reducing the conversation down to some short quips about better screening at recruitment —- I have no doubt you’ve all read comments from these tools.

      The simple truth is: the desire by Government (i.e. DVA) to conjure up any argument that can be used to deny a lawful entitlement’ is the role of DVA’s lawyers, actuaries and DVA’s senior leadershit group the Military Rehabilitation & Compensation Commission (MRCC).

      Cooking up a DNA so-called “research” program to see if some type of genetic marker exists to engineer a whole narrative where the sole objective would be to eventually blame real events, incidents, repeat trauma, injuries & conditions on “Congenital Factors” is just a modern take and re-imagined version of an old WWI saying ‘Soldiers Heart’ and just another way of saying ‘it’s your fault, you are weak and you were born that way’.

      Moreover, think about the research focus e.g. who’s paying for it, who’s sanctioned it, who’s driving it, who authorised it, who made a decision to ignore two ‘other’ very large and indepedent research projects into the same topic —- and then, compare that ‘focus’ to all the other stuff they could be doing, and have consciously chosen to avoid ——— those gaps speak volumes about motive!

  • 18/02/2018 at 1:37 pm

    The simple and harsh truth is that the government is and always will haemorrhage money on any and all popular issues that will help keep them in government so they freeze funding or actively take money from issues like this to fund their own advancement in politics. They have 0 conscience and 0 care factor for other people. They are completely self absorbed.

  • 18/02/2018 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Brian,

    I believe that “DVA funded patients” gives the wrong impression. It is my understanding that there are possibly many doctors who would be willing to accept the funding ‘gap’, in order to do the right thing by veterans … if it wasn’t for incredible paperwork that every DVA patient generated. Accepting one DVA patient might well mean not having the time to look after two non DVA patients, because of the bureaucratic nightmare that DVA impose on doctors.

  • 18/02/2018 at 12:39 pm

    I was also referred to a psychiatrist due to my military issues, and I was advised of a free appointment “next Tuesday”. However when I then faxed them my referral a few minutes later, the secretary rang me back to tell me that “The Doctor is not accepting any new patients”. I pleaded that I simply needed a script for medication, but it was of no use. A lengthy delay followed until I could find a psychiatrist to accept me.

  • 18/02/2018 at 12:25 pm

    I am Ex not a Vet but have had need of a psychiatrist many times. I had a break from psychs because none of them wanted to help. Even at a Psych hospital focussed on Veteran’s Mental Health. I was told there by the Psych that he preferred to focus on PTSD. Being that I am not male and never had PTSD, I left them with a sense that “I didn’t have the right illness.” I felt really rather betrayed. It may have been that PTSD attracted far more funding dollars than my illnesses ever would. I went back to see another psych who had helped me enormously long before DVA ever came onto my scene. I hadn’t seen her for at least 4 or 5 years but we had got on well. She was the best Psych I had seen. I told her I was a DVA client and I had found that I did remarkably well without medication (they all make me sicker than I am) and that I wanted to continue with other treatments. She told me flatly that if I didn’t take the drugs she would tell DVA I was non-compliant. She obviously thought I was getting a TPI pension and had a lot to lose or something, which I don’t. She was not aware that I get only $6.20 per fortnight from DVA. More betrayal but she hurt me more than the others because she obviously didn’t care about what was best for me as an individual. I believe she didn’t want to take on a DVA client due to fee issues because the first thing she had said to me was that she couldn’t bulk-bill me as she had done in the past. I have been through at least a dozen psychs and have found that the sport I participate in is a far better remedy to my illnesses than any psych ever would be. But I have trouble with other doctors too. My GP likes to “tickle” my Whitecard which annoys me greatly because the Specialist I see for my physical injury gets paid almost the same as my GP!! My Specialist is fantastic and one of the best in our State, if not the whole country, and I feel like a bludger because he loses money with me as a patient while my GP does nothing and gets the same. It turns out that the GP gets more than Medicare rebate and my Private Specialist gets less than half of his very modest fee. It is sickening because I know I am burden to him, but as you say, a lot of doctors have a lot of good will for Vets and like to help. I think the Gov’t knows this and are taking very large liberties by exploiting their decency.

  • 18/02/2018 at 11:20 am

    How can anyone look a young school-leaver squarely in the eye and tell them they can have a good career in the Services? The sadness or joy of post-service life can last a long time.

    Irrespective of political persuasion successive Commonwealth governments have obfuscated, delayed and lied their way out of giving vets the quality support they deserve: Voyager, Agent Orange and PCSD. Anyone contemplating entering the Services must seriously consider the risk of a poor quality of life post-service.

    • 18/02/2018 at 11:46 am

      To be fair, Ray, I think the quality of post-service life etc is far greater today than it was 10, 20, 30, 50 years ago.
      I would have no problem whatsoever looking a school-leaver in the eye and telling him or her that they can have a good career in the ADF. In fact, a neighbour asked me just the other day to have a chat with his 17-year-old. And I fully intend to encourage him – and give him the benefits of my experience.
      I didn’t join the Army until I was 28 and my biggest regret to this day is that I didn’t start earlier. But, having started so late, I also know what the alternatives are.
      And, on another point, a school leaver who has their mind set on being a soldier, sailor or airman doesn’t give a rats about life after service. Hell they don’t even give a rats about pay or conditions on day one. Even as a 28-year-old, I didn’t care about that stuff. I wanted a job, a career, a life that ‘meant something’. And even today, playing the bemusing, frustrating, and sometime downright pointless DVA ‘game’, I still have not a single regret about the 12 years full time and the 16 years (and still counting) part-time service I gave my country.
      If I started again tomorrow, knowing what I know now, I would still do it all again – differently perhaps, but I’d still do it.
      And no hesitation looking a young one in the eye and saying, ‘military service can be the best years of your life’ – though I will probably ad “if you do this and that…”

      On your second point, I fully agree. And the bottom line is the bottom line – money matters more than sentiment or good will.
      My pet hate in all walks of life is hypocrisy – and in this case, it’s the hypocrisy of publicly saying “we’ve got your back” when deeds and dollars make a mockery of the claim.
      Even if they said, thanks for your service but, sorry, we can’t afford all this after care, I’d be cool with that – especially if they told me before I joined up. I still would have joined, knowing I might have to sacrifice for the greater good.
      That’s truely how I feel.

    • 18/02/2018 at 3:48 pm

      “Successive Governments” Ray, I don’t think so, if you look at the timeline you will notice that the current Coalition Government was elected in September 2013. This was the time that the fee freeze started.
      They are the ones responsible for the real problem we have now.

      • 27/02/2018 at 9:53 am

        Sorry your date is not correct. Try 2012 for the freeze of DVA specialist fees. I’m quoting the AMA. Sadly this is not party political but across the federal government spectrum.

    • 20/02/2018 at 10:41 pm

      Yes the AGENT ORANGE bit read bluewater military and see the 400% agent orange and 60 other colours distilled by ships and in the drinking water and cooking water and more. And USA grant to vietnam for the 3 eye and 4 leg kids there . RAN says get lost so does DVA oh yes it can give you Cancer and yes THYROID problems and many more years after. But DVA like us as DEAD meat

  • 18/02/2018 at 10:43 am

    Hi Brian,

    I appologise for skipping to the bottom of your ‘post’ on Psych treatment and ‘not taking DVA patients’.

    A number of past Medical and Allied Heath Professionals will openly tell you that the not taking DVA patients is because DVA are notoriously BAD PAYERS. We’re talking 3/4 months to pay a consultation fee. So sorry Brian, most Medical and Allied Heath Professionals are refusing DVA Vets based upon a Commercial Decision.

    I’d like to repeat that for the readership – A commercial decision as DVA are notoriously BAD PAYERS.

    For me, when I see my GP (!) for my recognized conditions, I constantly get to the front desk and have to dispute the consultation fee. I find this embarrassing!! But, I stick to my guns and say to the front desk ladies, “NO; that was a DVA appointment”. They’re happy to bill me as a Consutation A or B, and have me pay for the appointment.

    I wish you the best mate. Stay committed because you have to be LOYAL to yourself.

    Arte et Marte.

    • 18/02/2018 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Christopher. Your point seems to suggest that the doctors are the bad guys in this. To me doctors are professional business people like any other professional business person. And I rather go to someone whom I know is being properly paid for his service than take ‘charity’ from someone who feels obliged or guilted into doing it.
      To suggest that they should take on patients from a client who is notoriously a bad payer and pay well below the market rate suggests an argument that veterans’ have some sort of god-given right. I don’t accept that either.
      Yes, we have rights and if someone denies us our rights, we have every right to get upset about that.
      My upset in this story is that DVA (who is, after all, merely the department that carries out the government’s will) and the government both tell me often, in every related press release and communique that, DVA “covers the entire cost of your treatment for any mental health condition” – when this is now a demonstrable lie of omission – a deceitful half truth.
      The truth is that DVA puts out a list of fees that they are willing pay doctors and doctors (as professional business people) have every right to refuse – and more and more doctors are refusing because the government’s list of fees (which were below par to start with) have been frozen for the past six years.
      I am not blaming doctors for saying no. I am not blaming DVA for ‘doing their job’. I’m not even blaming the government for trying to spend limited taxpayer funds as frugally as they can, where they can (or where they can get away with it).
      I am blaming the government for lying to me via half truths and obfuscations.

    • 20/02/2018 at 10:45 pm

      Yes and make sure your kids like mine (who DID and have problems) DO NOT JOIN THE MILITARY and ie for the non caring public and doctors . WE came back home to a society who wanted us dead and we could not even go for a RSL march or a beer as we were under 21 yrs old and we were young and served 5 long abusive years before we could even speak.

  • 18/02/2018 at 10:42 am

    Although veterans are generally well-treated by DVA and medical and allied health professionals, freezing of fees to providers can only be detrimental to veterans needing specialised support.
    I find it concerning that the Veterans Affairs portfolio in the federal government has been relegated to a Nationals Minister who apparently either does not have veterans’ interests at heart or is impotent in arguing in favour of veterans in the party rooms or with Treasury.
    Following the current turmoil in Liberal and National parties, known until now as the ‘Coalition’ it will be interesting to see who ‘wins’ Veterans Affairs and what capability and respect that person has in the higher echelons of government.

    • 18/02/2018 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Peter T
      Treated well by DVA???? I think Jesse Bird’s family would take umbrage at this point. I take umbrage with this point. And so would the hundreds or thousands of other families affected by the suicide of Vets while going through the hell that is lodging a claim. Granted, this chaos is caused by a small part of DVA who are paid to get us to drop our claims, but it far overshadows the goodwill shown by the rest of DVA. Treated well by Medical and Allied Health. Very definitely we are and we should have their backs because DVA are using them to save money on Vets Health. The Gov’t aren’t just ripping off Vets but all the decent Medical Allied Health people who take financial hits to help us.

  • 17/02/2018 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you for this deep and profound insight into your experience.

    As the CEO of a veteran charity who deals with these matters daily, we are shocked to know this is so prevalent after three years of educating practitioners and DVA about these issues and the urgency required when a veteran presents for medical assistance.

    All too often we hear stories of veterans being delayed in seeking treatment that is urgently required and we spend days – sometimes weeks – keeping the veteran safe and supported until a suitable doctor can be engaged.

    DVA is the only government department that doesn’t have a cap on their budget for providing medical and mental health care to veterans and it is truly disgusting there is no incentive for doctors to accept acute patients who are being funded by the Department as a result of archaic fee structures.

    We will raise this with our liaison in Canberra and write to Contact with the response we are given.

    Please note we have a 24/7 free call number that any veteran and their family/friends can call to seek advice and/or immediate assistance in any crisis. 1800 838 360

    Thank you for your service and sharing your experience.

    • 17/02/2018 at 3:26 pm

      Thank you for your feedback Jay.
      I sincerely hope that putting my experience out into the ether can help the conversation along.

      • 18/02/2018 at 12:38 pm

        UPDATE: I was advised by another veteran, educated in the inner workings of parliament, to write to Ann Sudmalis MP, the Federal MP for Gilmore (my own electorate) and Chair of the Coalition’s Backbench Policy Committee on Veterans Affairs – and to Labor’s shadow spokesman for Veterans Affairs, Amanda Rishworth (Federal MP for Kingston, located in Morphett Vale SA).
        I have done that.
        Reply took six months – and achieved nothing. See follow-up story here.

    • 20/02/2018 at 10:48 pm

      TRY 45 YEARS then you are getting close


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