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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 7780


Senator McLUCAS (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing) (10:42 PM) —I think you are aware that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is recognised as a department that is very close to its constituents. In those circumstances I think you would find that there would have been an assessment by the department of the veteran and the accepted psychological or mental health condition of the veteran would be known by the department. That is my advice, and I think you would recognise that that is pretty well understood. I would also say that the draft form that DVA have developed asks the following questions: have you ever taken out an apprehended violence order against your former veteran partner; in the relationship with your former veteran partner, were you ever fearful for your safety or that of your children, subjected to physical abuse or violence, subjected to psychological or emotional abuse or social isolation, threatened or oppressed? So, basically, the net is being thrown very widely so that anyone in a circumstance that may not be picked up by the letter of the law can be caught in the net. That is probably not the best analogy to use.

We are very clear that this is going to be applied in an extremely compassionate way. We know that there are many partners of veterans who have had very, very difficult lives, and in no way are we trying to make that situation any worse. So please be assured that the intent of the amendments that we are currently debating is to ensure that people who are in difficult circumstances are not affected at all by the change to the partner service pension.