Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has welcomed increased support for Australian veterans in the 2017 Budget.
“Australia’s veterans have made extraordinary sacrifices to keep us safe, and it’s only right that we provide the support they need when they return to civilian life,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“The Budget includes $350 million in extra support for veterans, with a particular focus on meeting the mental health needs of former ADF personnel and providing support to help veterans excel in the civilian world.
“$33.5 million will fund the expansion of the non-liability health care program to cover all mental health conditions. In simple terms, this means that anyone who has served in the full-time Australian Defence Force can access mental health support for any recognised mental health condition. This recognises that the earlier a veteran gets treatment, the better the health and other outcomes.
“Importantly, a veteran does not have to prove their mental health condition is related to their service. The funding for mental health treatment is demand-driven and not capped – if an eligible veteran requires treatment, it will be funded.
“Partners, families and former partners of veterans can also be affected by military service. In recognition of this, the Budget will provide $8.5 million to expand eligibility for the Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).
“The Budget also provides funding of $166.6 million to implement the first stage of Veteran Centric Reform to modernise the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) antiquated ICT systems to provide easier access to DVA services.
“Veterans and their families have told us there were problems with the way DVA processed claims. We have listened and we have responded with money to deliver better support and services for veterans, underpinned by digital access, streamlined processes and modern technology.”
Additional Budget measures for veterans include:
• $18 million as part of the Government’s Energy for the Future Package so more than 235,000 DVA clients will receive a one-off payment for energy bills;
• $9.1 million for accelerated access to rehabilitation services, streamlined access to Incapacity Payments, and improved access to the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated disability pension for veterans working past the age of 65.
NOTE: VVCS is the frontline mental health service for those in the veteran community. It is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046.