May 11, 2010

2010-11 BUDGET PROVIDES MORE SUPPORT FOR AUSTRALIAN VETERANS


The government is delivering on key election promises for veterans in this Budget by providing a $246.4 million package of new initiatives.
Category: Veteran Affairs
Posted by: Chops

VA021 - Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Among the initiatives are commitments for:

  • greater access to compensation and income support
  • preventing unnecessary hospital admissions for members of the veteran community
  • action on further recommendations of the Clarke Review
  • better access to health care and compensation for F-111 workers.

The Rudd Government in the 2010-11 Budget is providing $12.1 billion in income support, compensation and better health services for veterans.

“This increased support continues while our veteran community declines with the passing of the World War Two generation. Sadly, over the last year Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ client numbers have fallen from 415,000 to approximately 380,000,” the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Alan Griffin, said.

The government will invest $152.7 million in expanding community-based health services aimed at Australian veterans and war widows with chronic conditions and complex care needs and at risk of hospitalisation.

The package of new measures will also include greater access to benefits for thousands of Australians whose military service may have exposed them to health problems or illness.

$55 million will be invested to give an additional 2,400 F-111 aircraft fuel tank maintenance workers access to better health care and compensation. These workers include those known as ‘pick and patch’ personnel who were not deemed eligible under the previous scheme. This means that more than 3,000 F-111 workers will now have access to benefits should they need them.

“Under the former flawed scheme, ex gratia payments were provided based on arbitrary classifications without any reference to their health needs.

“This new and vastly improved package addresses people’s actual health problems in a fair and equitable way,” Mr Griffin said.

In other changes, the 2010–11 Veterans’ Affairs Budget provides compensation and benefits for defence force personnel who participated in British Nuclear Testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

“We have accepted the Clarke Review recommendation that the service of military personnel who participated in nuclear tests should be declared non-warlike hazardous under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986.

“This is what representatives of nuclear participants have sought since 2004.”

Defence force members who participated in British Nuclear Testing will now be eligible for the disability pension and health care. Their partners may also be eligible for the war widows/ers pension. This change will potentially benefit an estimated 2,700 ex-defence force members at an estimated impact of $24.2 million over five years.

This is the result of a commitment by this government to revisit recommendations made as part of the 2003 Clarke Review into veterans’ entitlements which had not been implemented.

There will also be a reclassification of the service of certain submarine special operations personnel between 1978 and 1992 to acknowledge their contribution, recognising it as qualifying service. Up to 890 former submariners will benefit from this change, costing an estimated $11.1 million over four years.

The Minister said the government’s close inspection of the 45 Clarke Review recommendations had resulted in three being accepted and already acted upon, four being accepted, 12 rejected, four deferred and a further 22 referred for consideration under the Review of Military Compensation Arrangements.

The government will also invest an additional $2.7 million to reclassify service at RAAF Base Ubon in Thailand between 31 May 1962 and 27 July 1962 from operational service to qualifying service, also improving eligibility for benefits for those affected.