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Budget 1991 - Veterans' Affairs portfolio

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Ben H umphreys M inister for Veterans' A ffairs

Embargoed to 3pm, 20 August 1991 43a/91

B udget 1991 - V e te ra n s ' A ffairs p o rtfo lio

The Government's commitment to caring for the ex-service community continues in this Budget with an overall allocation of $5.3 billion, the M inister for Veterans' Affairs, Ben Humphreys said today.

"Specifically, I am pleased to be able to include further initiatives that build upon past work directed towards meeting the changing needs o f ageing veterans," he said.

"These have been developed to improve veterans' quality o f life and health care."

In the health area, a strategy is to be implemented that establishes a basis for future veteran health care. The strategy, which follows a major review o f the Department's health program, will still be based on compensation and quality of service but will be more efficient and responsive to the changing needs o f veterans and war widows.

From 2 January 1992 alternatives to institutional health care will provide emergency short­ term home relief for veterans and war widows, a wider range of services for veterans and their carers, including the option of in-home respite care and veteran support networks. Enhanced data systems will improve veteran health planning and evaluation.

Following a Report from the former Deputy President o f the Repatriation Commission, Ms Jocelyn M cGiir, Australian mariners of World W ar I and W orld W ar Π will from 1 December 1991 be granted Repatriation treatment benefits on the same basis as Australian war veterans.

Veterans will benefit from a simplification o f the Telephone Rental scheme and provision to all World W ar I veterans o f a telephone rental subsidy equivalent to the full annual rental cost.

There will be a substantial increase in the mileage allowance available to veterans who use their own vehicles when travelling for treatment. The allowance will rise from 12.28 cents a kilometre to 18.5 cents a kilometre.

There are some changes to the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

From 1 January 1992 Personal Treatment Entitlement Card holders (yellow card) and Specific Treatment Entitlement Card holders (white card) will be required to pay the patient contribution charge o f $2.60 per prescription. But this is offset by die payment of a fortnightly pharmaceutical allowance of $5.20, together with the provision of a safety net to protect the chronically ill.

The new arrangements to reduce Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital general practitioner attendances to non-card holders will not apply to veterans holding a Personal Treatment Entitlement Card (yellow card), Specific Treatment Entitlement Card (white card) or Dependant Treatment Entidement Card (lilac card). In addition, all Service Pensioners and

their dependants will be exempt from the new arrangements. Local Medical Officer services for persons eligible under Department of Veterans' Affairs arrangements will continue free of charge.

Following a comprehensive evaluation process, central computer services for the Department o f Veterans' Affairs will be provided by the private sector. Two Australian companies, Femtree Computer Corporation and Paxus Services, have been invited to submit "best and final offers" to supply computer services for five years. The new

arrangements are expected to be in place within a few months.

Significant cost savings are expected from "outsourcing" the Department's computer operations. The integrity of veterans' records and standard of service will remain o f utmost importance and will be protected by the contract arrangements.

D ep artm en tal contact: Richard Bear (06) 289 6620 (w) (06) 291 0961 (h)

M edia contact: Annette Holden (06) 289 6152 (w) (06) 251 2177 (h)