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Wednesday 20 March, 2019
The Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee recently undertook an inquiry into the use of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Committee’s Report was published on 4 December 2018.
On 15 March 2019, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Darren Chester MP, announced the tabling of the Government Response to the Inquiry. The Government largely supports the view of the Senate Inquiry Committee and it’s recommendations.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary, Liz Cosson, passed on her appreciation to the individuals and organisations who contributed to this important issue. The evidence provided to the Inquiry adds to the department’s understanding of how it can further serve and support veterans and their families. For some of these people, it was a difficult process to provide details about their concerns.
The Commonwealth Government has also announced $2.1 million for a new initiative to support veterans who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial drugs mefloquine or tafenoquine. This initiative will deliver a national program that will provide concerned veterans with the option to receive a comprehensive health assessment to identify service-related illness, disease and injury. Where appropriate, the veteran will be referred for further specialist assessment, treatment and support. This initiative responds to concerns from veterans during both the recent Senate Inquiry and the Mefloquine and Tafenoquine Consultation Forums hosted by DVA across Australia last year. This initiative will be implemented from 1 July 2019. DVA encourages anyone who is interested in accessing a Health Assessment to contact 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) to register.
Additionally, the report by the University of Queensland on the Self-reported Health of Australian Defence Force personnel after use of anti-malarial drugs on deployment has also been released. This research was commissioned in 2017 by DVA and Defence in response to concerns about the use of anti-malarial medications during service. This is part of the Commonwealth Government’s ongoing efforts to understand the effects of some of these medications used in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). DVA and Defence will consider the report as part of further work to provide support to veterans who are concerned about their use of anti-malarial medications during their service.
DVA will continue to provide help to veterans who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial medications mefloquine and tafenoquine. DVA has a designated telephone line —1800 633 567 – for veterans with enquiries, including available support, non-liability health care and the claims process.