Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester has released the following summation of the 2019-20 Federal Budget and how it affects his department…
Australian veterans and their families will continue to see an improvement in support and services with $11.5 billion in funding allocated in the 2019-20 Budget.
FILE PHOTO: An Army Catafalque Party member rests on arms reversed as a Navy bugler salutes during an Anzac Day dawn service at Monument Hill, Fremantle, Western Australia. ADF photo.
This funding represents an overall increase of $300 million allocated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19 to support our veterans and their families.
“The 2019-20 Budget is focussed on putting veterans and their families first and would see a continued investment in the transformation of DVA,” Mr Chester said.
“Over the next two years DVA will continue its focus on making it easier and faster for veterans to access the services they need, when and where they need them.
“Veterans and their families will be able to access more services online and we will continue to simplify our phone system, introducing a single contact phone number, 1800 VETERAN.
“We are making sure that every veteran, no matter where they live has better access to DVA by partnering with the Department of Human Services to use their extensive network of shop fronts and centres, as well as Mobile Service Centres and agent networks.
“We will also be investing more to make DVA’s online claims site, MyService, more user-friendly, making the claims process easier and faster.
“As the rising cost of living continues to put pressure on a lot of Australians, we have also announced a one-off Energy Assistance Payment that will provide additional support for more than 225,000 veterans and widows who receive support payments. The payment is worth $75 for singles and $125 for couples.
“We are continuing to deliver an extensive respect and recognition package with a veterans’ covenant, nationally recognised veterans’ card, lapel pin and commemorative program of national and international events.”
The Australian government’s commitment to supporting veterans will strengthen with $24.4 million in funding over four years for a range of programs including:
- $16.2 million in funding in grants to organisations who deliver innovative programs to support veterans to find meaningful employment
- $4.2 million to extend the trial of Provisional Access to Medical Treatment which will continue to provide veterans with access to treatment for specified conditions before claims are approved, getting veterans treatment faster and preventing the risk of further deterioration of their condition: and,
- $4 million to provide training to volunteers who work with veterans, enhancing their capability to recognise mental health risks and to provide intervention and support.
“Helping veterans effectively transition to civilian life is a priority for the government,” Mr Chester said.
“We know that employing a veteran is good for business and the experience and skills they bring to a job can be invaluable.
“These grants will help veterans find employment by helping them navigate the range of community and government services available to them.”
Family violence victims who are former spouses or de-facto partners of veterans will also see an increase in support, with $6.2 million in funding allocated in the Budget.
“Funding for the Partner Service Pensions – eligibility alignment measure will ensure former spouses and de-facto partners will be able to continue receiving the partner service pension after their relationship has ended and divorce proceedings finalised, including where it is determined that special domestic circumstances apply,” Mr Chester said.
“This measure is about creating equity for all former partners of veterans, regardless of their marital status.”
Last year the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade completed its inquiry into the use of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force.
“We recognise that this is an ongoing concern for some veterans and the government is providing $2.1 million so that any concerned veterans can have a comprehensive health check by a general practitioner to identify service-related illness, disease and injury,” Mr Chester said.
The 2019-20 Budget also provides:
- $3.5 million in funding to support the 2020 Anzac Day Dawn Service in France as well as for managing security and attendance in both France and Turkey consistent with previous overseas commemorations. The funding includes funds for a scoping study for a commemorative site on the Island of Lemnos, Greece, the former site of an Australian field hospital during the First World War; and,
- New and amended listings on the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.