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Wednesday, 28 June 2000
Page: 18563


Mr Latham asked the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, upon notice, on 16 February 2000:

(1) Do the findings of the Morbidity of Vietnam Veterans series of reports indicate a significantly higher incidence of a range of very serious illnesses and disabilities among Vietnam veterans and their children than among the general population; if so, why has this Department become increasingly reluctant to grant Vietnam veterans their due entitlements under the Veterans' Entitlements Act.

(2) Has he instructed his Department to take a tougher line with Vietnam veterans in determining whether they qualify for entitlements under the Veterans' Entitlements Act; if so, will he provide a copy of the instructions.

(3) Have there been other instructions or directives to departmental officers about determinations for claims made by Vietnam veterans; if so, will he provide a copy of the instructions.

(4) Has he been instructed by other members of the Government in relation to the matters referred to in parts (2) and .

(5) What was the total number of (a) claims, (b) grants and (c) rejections made for the Disability pension in (i) each year since 1994-95 and (ii) the period 1 July to 31 December 1999.

(6) In relation to each part of part (5), how many, and what proportion, were for Vietnam veterans.

(7) Since 1995, in respect of rejections for the Disability Pension, how many appeals have been made to (a) review officers, (b) the Veterans' Review Board and (c) the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

(8) How many, and what proportion, of the instances referred to in part (7) were for Vietnam veterans.

(9) What were the results of each appeal referred to in part (7), and how many, and what proportion, were for Vietnam veterans.

(10) Will he implement each of the recommendations in Morbidity of Vietnam Veterans: Volume Three: Validation Study; if so, when; if not, why not.


Mr Bruce Scott (Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes, the study does show a significantly higher incidence of serious illnesses and disabilities. Where a veteran has a condition accepted as service-related the Commonwealth does provide compensation, including disability compensation and treatment.

(2) First part: No. Second part: Not applicable.

(3) First part: No. Second part: Not applicable.

(4) No.

(5) The following table provides details of the total number of (a) claims made, (b) conditions granted and (c) conditions rejected for the purposes of entitlement to disability pension in (i) each year since 1994-95 and (ii) the period 1 July to 31 December 1999 for all claims for veterans.

Year

(a) claims made

(b) conditions granted

(c) conditions rejected

1994-95

27 059

6 516

12 994

1995-96

28 426

7 774

25 562

1996-97

30 800

7 563

24 136

1997-98

30 924

8 377

28 142

1998-99

29 121

7 973

24 330

1999-00 (1 July to 31 December)

14 751

4 160

11 974

NOTE: Annual figures for conditions granted and rejected include conditions claimed during the previous year. It should also be noted that some claims sought entitlement to more than one condition.

(6) These figures are not available.

(7) The number of appeals against rejections that have been made to (a) review officers (b) the Veterans Review Board and (c) the Administrative Appeals Tribunal since 1995, are set out in the following table:

Year

Review Officers*

(b) the Veterans' Review Board

(c) the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

TOTAL

1995-96

5 500

10 048

1 721 #

17 269

1996-97

6 000

7 937

1 826 #

15 763

1997-98

11 500

11 312

1 592 #*

21 404

1998-99

6 000

8 796

1 590 **

16 386

1999-00 (1 July to 31 Dec)

Figure not yet available

3 373

N/A

3 373

TOTAL

41 466

6 729

74 038

* These figures have been taken from the Department of Veterans' Affairs Annual Reports.

# This figure represents all Repatriation Commission/Secretary of Department of Veterans' Affairs cases before the AAT; that is Compensation, Income Support and Defence Service Homes

#* This figure represents all intakes, disposals and outstanding numbers of all Repatriation Commission/Secretary of DVA cases.

** Only Disability Compensation cases are included in this figure.

(8) The applications for appeal are not recorded by conflict area, therefore no complete figures are available for Vietnam veterans.

(9) The acceptance rates for the appeals referred to in part 7 are set out in the following table. The applications for appeal are not recorded by conflict area, therefore no figures are available for Vietnam veterans.

Year

Review Officers*% accepted

the Veterans' Review Board% accepted

the AdministratveAppeals Tribunal% accepted

1995-96

56 %

63.9 %

65 %

1996-97

57 %

47.2 %

61 %

1997-98

55 %

45.9 %

63 %

1998-99

56 %

54.8 %

58 %

1999-00 (1 July to 31 Dec)

Figure not yet available

Figure not yet available

N/A

* Departmental Review Officers screen all Veterans' Review Board applications upon receipt to check the soundness of the primary decision. A Review Officer may intervene under Section 31 of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 and change or amend the primary decision at that stage.

(Source: The Department of Veterans' Affairs Annual Report 1998-1999, page: 51)

(10) In the 2000/2001 Budget the Government has strengthened its commitment to the needs of Vietnam veterans and their families with a $32.3 million package to address and validate findings of the Vietnam Veterans' Health Study.