Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced that members of the Australian civilian surgical and medical teams that provided medical aid, training and treatment to local Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War will be eligible for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Gold Card.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister Chester commended this group of men and women who will be eligible for the DVA Gold Card from 1 July 2020. This will provide them with access to medical treatment for all conditions.
Minister Chester said that while these medical teams were not a part of the Australian Defence Force at the time, the government has listened to their concerns relating to their time in Vietnam.
"We have determined that it is appropriate to provide them with the DVA Gold Card, which will ensure they receive the support they need," Mr Chester said.
During the Vietnam War, about 240 doctors and 210 nurses worked in Vietnam under contract with the Department of External Affairs as part of Australia’s contribution to a SEATO aid program in South Vietnam between 1964 and 1972.
The program aimed to provide medical aid in Vietnamese civilian hospitals and training to local medical staff.
"It may have taken nearly 50 years, but today justice is being done as a group of brave Australian doctors and nurses are duly recognised for their selfless contribution as members of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) surgical civilian medial teams that served in Vietnam," the Treasurer said.
The measure coming into effect is dependent on the introduction and passing of legislation. DVA is aware there are about 200 surgical and medical team members that will benefit from this measure.
"They volunteered, in the great Australian tradition, putting their lives and careers on hold to administer aid to civilians during a conflict in which more than 500 Australians lost their lives in combat," Minister Chester said.