The Liberal and Nationals Government will boost support for veterans and their families as part of a $63.2 million suite of initiatives to improve well-being, deliver job opportunities and secure health and housing services for the future, Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien announced today.
Mr O'Brien said in addition to committing $450,000 to deliver a Drop-In Centre for veterans at the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch, the Coalition Government will invest $16.2 million to support organisations including Soldier On, Team Rubicon and State Branches of the RSL.
"The Coalition Government has a strong track record delivering services and support to our veterans and their loved ones, and the vital role that ex-service organisations play in supporting veterans after their service has concluded," Mr O'Brien said.
"This package will help support ex-service organisations to deliver those services and help find more veterans meaningful civilian jobs."
Mr O'Brien said the Coalition Government also supported the health needs of veterans, enabling them to access physiotherapy services.
"We understand the importance of exercise physiology and physiotherapy for Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) veterans so we will deliver an extra $17 million to exempt them from the new 'Treatment Cycle' requirements commencing on 1 July 2019, allowing TPI veterans to continue to access these important allied health services under existing arrangements," he said.
The Coalition has also introduced legislation to create an Australian Veterans' Covenant, which, in partnership with the ex-service community, will formally recognise the unique nature of military service and acknowledge and honour the service and sacrifice of our service personnel.
Mr O'Brien, who was instrumental in securing an independent inquiry into the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) superannuation scheme, said the Covenant would help ensure veterans received appropriate respect.
"We understand it is important all veterans are appropriately recognised by the community and businesses not just on Anzac Day but every day, even when they're not wearing their medals and uniforms," Mr O'Brien said.
"That's why we've launched the Australian Veterans' Card and Lapel Pin, so veterans can be appropriately recognised, including by businesses who want to offer special discounts and offers to veterans."
Further to these announcements, the Morrison Government will invest $30 million in a network of six new Veterans' Wellbeing Centres that will bring together the key services for our veterans and their families.
The new Centres will integrate government and non-government support for Australians who have served in our Defence Forces with local health services community organisations, advocacy and wellbeing support. They will partner with ex-service organisations and state and territory governments across Australia.
Along with other ex-service organisations, these groups will also be able to use the new Veterans' Wellbeing Centres to deliver their services.
A re-elected Morrison Government will also make it easier for veterans to access the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme by extending the time for eligible veterans to access the program from two to five years after they complete their ADF service. This will allow veterans and their families more time to settle their affairs and find a home once their service has been completed.
The Coalition will also extend eligibility to the Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme to allow any current or former ADF member who has at least one day of service to access home building insurance through the Scheme. That means veterans can access more competitively priced home building insurance, particularly in disaster prone areas, which will lower the cost of living for veterans and their families, particularly in northern Australia.
The Coalition's plan to put our veterans and their families first builds on an extensive record of support for veterans:
• The record $11 billion we deliver to support 280,000 veterans and their families each year
• Extending access to the DVA Gold Card for civilian medical teams in the Vietnam War
• $500 million we've committed to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs to better meet the needs of veterans and their families
• $100 million we invested in the Sir John Monash Centre in France
• $498 million committed over the next nine years to redevelop the Australian War Memorial and allow the Memorial to display more of their collection and proudly tell the stories from recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Solomon Islands and East Timor.
• Delivering our $1.4 billion in fairer indexation for military superannuants
• Supporting Kookaburra Kids to help the children of veterans affected by mental illness.
• Cutting waiting times for claims through the Department and streamlining the process through the new MyService system