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Repatriation Minister offers A.C.T. returned servicemen's league annual congress



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PRESS RELEASE

844

REPATRIATION MINISTER OPENS A.C.T. RETURNED SERVICEMEN1S LEAGUE ANNUAL CONGRESS

• (Embargoed for release at 8 p.m. FRIDAY, August 30tli)

The Minister for Repatriation, Mr. R.W. Swartz, today

urged the Returned Servicemen's League to move into newer- fields

in'a drive to increase its influence in the Australian Community

and maintain.its membership.

Mr.. Swartz was making the opening address at the annual

congress of the Australian Capital Territory Branch of the R.'S.L.

He suggested that the League might form study groups to

discuss various subjects of vital interest to the community.

' These included the problems of South East Asia, the

future of New Guinea, Regional Economic Groupings in the world

today and their relation to world security.

The Minister paid tribute to the R.S.L.'s work against

Communism in Australia and warned that the danger of complacency

must be combatted in the interests of the country's security under

the present world circumstances.

Mr. Swartz said that the Repatriation Department and the

Returned Servicemen's League had a common objective — the welfare of

ex-servicemen and their dependants.

Howeverj their responsibilities were different and in a

democratic society such as Australia's, a Government had to leave

room for initiative by private voluntary organisations.

Examples of this were hospital visits and the general

advice given to war widows. , . ■

Mr. Swartz said that at the policy level, the Government

appreciated the co-operation of the R.S.L. through its National

Executive and the continuing liaison between the two bodies.

Both Repatriation and the R.S.L. had developed at the

same time and were continuing to' advance along parallel lines of

progress. -

Mr. Swartz said that Repatriation must and would expand

as ex-servicemen grew older and the need for their medical treat­

ment increased.

He said the growth also stemmed'from the granting of new

eligibilities.

These included the granting of Service Pensions to Torres

Strait Islanders, the extension of benefits to special overseas

forces and the decision to grant so-called "home-service" widows

of the 1914-18 war medical treatment eligibility.

The growth of Repatriation also depended on increased

Departmental activity in medical treatment and investigation and

maintenance.

Examples of the medical progress being made included the

installation of special X-ray equipment at the Heidelberg Repatria­

tion Hospital in Melbourne and the use of closed-circuit television.

In most States new works were being carried out and the

total amount being devoted to these, and to maintenance, at present

came to about £2,000,000. ·

Despite all this, however, Mr. Swartz pointed out that the

largest Departmental expenditure was in the payments of a wide

range of benefits such as War and Service pensions.

At present there were more than 730,000 recipients of such

pensions and the cost of Repatriation service this year will be

over £120 million. ·

There had been continuing changes over the years, and

there were some changes in the Budget which will be implemented

by legislation shortly.

The changes would continue, the Minister said, and

Repatriation activities were expected to increase until between

1975 and 1980.

Even after that, the decline in the service required would

be very gradual.

Canberra, August 30th.