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Government boosts assistance to Vietnam veterans

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Ben H umphreys m in is t e r for veterans' affairs

89/51 ,

4 October 1989


The Government today tabled its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Community Affairs' report on counselling and ancillary services for Vietnam veterans ("After the March").

Agreement to nearly all of the Committee's recommendations reaffirms the Government's strong commitment to the Vietnam Veterans' Counselling Service (WCS) which provides great support for a significant number of veterans throughout Australia.

In tabling the response, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Ben Humphreys, congratulated the Committee, chaired by Mr Neil O'Keefe, on the approach which it had taken. He said that the Government had already acted on many of the recommendations made by the Committee, and was working to quickly put most

others in place.

"The Government's response will further enhance the W C S and develop the ancillary benefits currently available to Vietnam veterans and their families," the Minister said.

"The Government will bring forward, as soon as possible, an amendment to the Veterans' Entitlements Act which will provide for specific recognition of the W C S as a discrete and important service. The amendment will cover the neccessity of ensuring the appropriate confidentiality of the records of the WC S .

"Other initiatives include testing the viability of a counselling service in the Albury-Wodonga area through a 12 month pilot project; expanding the toll-free after hours crisis telephone number service to all W C S centres; and

establishing a cadetship scheme for veterans wanting formal qualifications in either psychology or social work.

"Four extra staff will be allocated to the W C S to provide administrative and counselling support. On top of other staffing action already taken, this will bring the base staffing level up to 49, compared with 35 in 1988. The Government will continue to closely monitor the adequacy of

staffing levels in the WCS," the Minister said.

While a number of other recommendations would have an impact on the administration of the WC S , the Minister said that those already mentioned would have the widest, most . immediately-felt impact on the Vietnam veteran community.

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