A Message from DVA
Friday 26 May, 2017
Source: Deputy Commissioner Janice Silby
2017-18 Federal Budget
Expanded mental health support for veterans and their families, and medical coverage for veterans of nuclear testing
As part of the 2017–18 Federal Budget, the Government has provided an additional $350 million to support veterans, including an expansion in the range of mental health conditions current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members can receive treatment for on a non-liability basis.
The $33.5 million expansion of the non-liability health care program builds on the mental health support already available to veterans and their families. Last year’s Budget made treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and drug and alcohol misuse free for anyone who had served at least one day in the full-time ADF. This year, they Budget expanded the non-liability health care program to cover all mental health conditions.
Also a Gold Card will be provided to cover the health care costs of the surviving participants of the British Nuclear Test program in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s and veterans who served as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). The Government has allocated $133.1 million for this initiative to cover eligible veterans.
Additional Budget measures for veterans include:
- $8.5 million to expand eligibility for VVCS so that partners and children of contemporary veterans, who have had one day of full-time service, will have access to the services and support provided by VVCS, including counselling and group programs. Former partners of ADF personnel will also be able to access VVCS up to five years after a couple separates or while co-parenting a child under the age of 18
- $9.8 million to pilot new approaches to suicide prevention and improve care and support available to veterans
- A pilot expansion of the Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) program
- $2.7 million to support the further implementation of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program
- $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.
- $19.6 million over two years to support domestic and international commemorative activities for the Anzac Centenary and Century of Service, and the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of the First World War on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2018
- $18.0 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
- $1.2 million to continue the income support bonus for DVA clients receiving an Education Allowance under either the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES), or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme (MRCAETS)
- $5.0 million to develop a first pass business case for the Australian War Memorial to examine ways to provide additional exhibition space.
IMPROVING SERVICES FOR VETERANS
DVA is undergoing a transformation to change the way it does business. Through this transformation, DVA clients will receive a better level of support based on their needs and expectations, rather than our complicated legislation and systems.
Improving the Transition Process
Improving the transition process to civilian life for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel is a high priority for the Government. DVA has committed to examine the transition experience, in collaboration with the Department of Defence (Defence) and the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC), to assist transitioning ADF members with arrangements before they separate from the ADF, including their health care and financial support or employment.
The aim is to help ADF members to easily transition to productive, successful civilian lives within a short period of time after leaving the ADF. To and in line with the Government’s 2016 election commitment to create a better veterans’ transition process, DVA, CSC, and Defence have established the Transition Taskforce.
The Taskforce will consult with current and former ADF members, ex-service organisations and other organisations that offer services or support for transition. DVA and Defence staff involved with the policy and administration of transition will also be consulted.
The feedback and information collected from this consultation will assist the Taskforce in reporting back to the relevant ministers on the barriers to effective transition and suggestions to overcome them.
In addition to the Taskforce, a Discharge (Separation) with Documentation policy is being implemented by Defence. In the first instance, this policy has mandated Individual Transition Plans and Separation Checklists for all separating ADF members.
The Digital Readiness Act
The recent passing of the Digital Readiness Bill through Parliament will allow DVA to implement computerised decision making. DVA will use these provisions only in situations where no human interpretation or discretion is required as DVA continues to modernise its IT systems. Improving computer systems and programs for the Department will mean that in the future veterans will see the benefits of this reform through faster processing times.
This new legislation ensures that if an automated adverse liability decision is made (where injury, disease, aggravation or death is related to service), it must be referred to a DVA staff member for consideration and determination.
Changes to improve the information sharing capabilities between DVA and the Department of Defence should also help improve processing of claims and wait times, with DVA now having greater access to relevant claim information.
Following consultation undertaken by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, and the need for the Bill to pass for DVA to start implementing these important measures, the previous Public Interest Disclosure provisions were removed.
As part of its transformation, DVA is trialling a new online portal called MyService, which aims to make it faster and easier for you to request cover. For the purpose of the trial, MyService uses the terminology ‘cover’ instead of ‘claim’.
If you enlisted in the ADF after 30 June 2004 and you wish to be covered by DVA for a service related condition, you can register your request for cover through the MyService portal. MyService is now available on the DVA website at www.dva.gov.au/myservice.
To access MyService, you will need your PMKeys number, date of enlistment and either your current driver’s licence or Medicare card. You will also need a medical diagnosis and any related documents to support your request for cover.
MyService allows you to electronically verify yourself, so you don’t have to complete the current paper-based proof of identity process. You can then request cover for an illness or injury related to your ADF service and upload your diagnosis and any related documents. You will also be asked for feedback to help DVA improve the experience for clients.
If you need more information, want to provide feedback or need assistance help using MyService, please contact MyServiceSupport@dva.gov.au.
If you are eligible to request cover, we encourage you to take part in the trial.
Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act
In order to ensure that the unique nature of military service continues to be recognised appropriately, the Government introduced a Bill to Parliament last year to create a standalone version of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members with service prior to 1 July 2004.
If passed by the Parliament, this Act will be titled the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).
The DRCA will replicate the SRCA. At commencement, eligibility and benefits under the DRCA will be the same as those presently available to current and former ADF members under the existing SRCA.
The Bill also ensures that, at commencement, entitlements being received by DVA clients under previous versions and iterations of the SRCA are preserved.
Subject to passage of the Bill, the commencement date of the DRCA is expected to be 1 July 2017.