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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 942

Veterans: Mental Health

Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaDeputy Nationals Whip) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Will the minister inform the House how the government is investing in support for veterans' mental health? Is the minister aware of any particular support for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder?

Mr TEHAN (WannonMinister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security and Minister for Defence Personnel) (15:09): I thank the member for Capricornia for her question. I thank her also for the invitation to visit her electorate last year and I commend her on the great work that her RSL clubs are doing there, especially the Cockscomb Veterans Bush Retreat, the Emu Park RSL and the Yeppoon RSL. This government is making it easier for veterans seeking mental health treatment and support.

Two weeks ago, I met with Chris May, a veteran who, with his brother Scott, served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2011, Chris's Bushmaster was struck with an IED that left him with injuries to his neck and back and with pain that he still feels today. It also left him dealing with PTSD. Returning to Australia, Chris has used his experience to encourage service men and women to come forward and seek help for their injuries, particularly PTSD. Through his work, Chris, along with his brother Scott, were nominated for local hero in this year's Australian of the Year awards. I know the member for Holt has acknowledged that in this place previously.

The reason I mention Chris is because two weeks ago he helped launch the trial of a new intensive treatment program for current and former Australian Defence Force members with PTSD. Supported by the Turnbull government, the Rapid Exposure Supporting Trauma Recovery, RESTORE trial, is a world leading research program that will assess whether delivering treatment over an intensive two-week period betters the outcomes for current and former ADF members with PTSD.

Around 200 current and former members will be recruited for the trial, which will run over two years. If successful, this research will be world leading in treating PTSD and set the gold standard for how we help our current and former service men and women impacted by this disorder. This is in addition to measures the government has already implemented. For the first time last year, we made the treatment of five mental health conditions faced by veterans—depression, anxiety, PTSD, alcohol abuse and substance abuse—free of charge with no need to prove that they were related to service. This funding is uncapped. If there is a need, it will be funded. It is vital we continue to do all we can in addressing PTSD and other mental health conditions. We are committed to funding new research and developing new treatments in order to give veterans and current ADF members the care that they need.