An additional $100 million in funding has been allocated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) in the latest budget, bringing the 2018-19 funding total to $11.2 billion.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the additional $100 million investment will help fund the continuing reform process underway at DVA.
"The government is working hard to make sure veterans and their families can access the services they rely on more easily and faster," Minister Chester said.
"DVA’s transformation is about not only upgrading out-dated computer systems but also looking at improving our service delivery to ensure the best possible outcome for veterans and their families.
"We’re also making sure that veterans can access DVA’s services through digital platforms and investigating new ways to reach out to veterans."
Included in the new funding is $4 million for the ongoing implementation of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program and $4.3 million for additional services to help veterans enter the broader workforce.
"Transitioning to civilian life and finding meaningful employment post-service can be a challenge for some Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel," the minister said.
"We know the best type of support for our ex-service men and women is the economic independence that comes with a job.
"The key to getting our veterans into the workforce once they leave the ADF is making sure businesses are aware of the unique skills and experiences these individuals have.”
Minister Chester said the new budget funding would help those struggling to find a job by providing additional support with resume and interview preparation, translating ADF skills into civilian competencies, mentoring and coaching services.
The government is also investing $10.8 million to remove the reduction in the amount of incapacity payments when eligible veterans are undertaking approved full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan.
The budget also contains a major reform package designed to improve dental and allied health services for veterans. The package will be implemented in four stages that will include adjustments to fee schedules, a new treatment cycle initiative, trials of funding models and upgrades to meet future needs.
"These reforms are about making sure that the 140,000 DVA cardholders who access dental and allied health services benefit from improved communication between their GPs and service providers," Minister Chester said.
"We are also looking to expand the range of services we can deliver through new technology like telehealth via telephone or video and online video counselling."
The 2018-19 budget also expands eligibility for non-liability mental health treatment to Reservists with domestic or international disaster relief or border protection service or those involved in a serious service-related training accident; extends eligibility for the Long Tan Bursary to the grandchildren of Vietnam veterans; and reverses two 2015-16 budget measures related to certain calculations under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 at a cost of $5.3 million over the forward estimates.