Mental health providers, social workers and community nursing providers who provide vital services to our veteran community are set to receive an increase in fees from today.
FILE PHOTO: Officers and sailors on HMAS Adelaide’s flight deck during a mental-health awareness event at Garden Island. Photo by Petty Officer Justin Brown.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the government committed $94.3million [over four years] in the budget to increase fees paid to mental health, social work and community nursing providers, to ensure continued high-quality care for our veterans and their families.
“Maintaining competitive fees for these mental health and community support providers will enable better outcomes for our veterans and their families, and encourage providers to continue to offer services to support members of the veteran community through challenging times,” Mr Chester said.
“It was crucial that the government continued to deliver positive change to boost support for veterans’ mental health and wellbeing, particularly as we navigate a global pandemic.”
Fees for specialist health-care providers, including mental-health-care providers to DVA-funded patients have been frozen since 2012 – which has caused many providers to stop offering services to DVA-funded patients.
Indexation of GP bulk-billing fees under Medicare, which were also frozen in 2012, were unfrozen on 1 July 2017, with specialist fees under Medicare unfrozen gradually over the following two years.
Today’s announcement is a four-year package, but with no details as to the affect it will have on fees that have not been indexed for almost nine years – nor any projection (or even acknowledgement) of how or whether this package might entice some of the almost 50% of service providers who currently refuse to treat DVA patients, to change their minds.
Instead, Minister Chester acknowledged the ongoing [mainly unpaid] advocacy by ex-service organisations and peak bodies who work with DVA to ensure veterans and their families have access to world-class care and support.
“For any veteran out there who may be struggling, I encourage you to reach out for help. Support is always available,” Mr Chester said – though CONTACT cautions that not all service providers are willing to accept DVA-funded veterans as clients.
Forewarned is forearmed.