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Better support for Australia's veterans.

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Thursday, 12 August 2010


The Nationals Federal Member for Mallee John Forrest says a $45.6 million Coalition plan to better support Australia’s veterans and their families is well justified.

“The good thing is that this plan addresses a whole range of issues, indicating the amount of thought and discussion that went into formulating a better deal for veterans and their families,” Mr Forrest said.

“There’ll be increased assistance for Veterans’ Pharmaceutical costs. From 1 January 2012, the Coalition will remove out-of-pocket expenses for pharmaceuticals for disabled veterans in receipt of 50 percent of the General Rate of Disability Pension, or higher (including EDA and TPI).

“This will enable more than 87,000 veteran disability pensioners, including our most disabled veterans, to save up to $168 per year. This extension of the Pharmaceutical Safety net will cost $38 million over the forward estimates.

“The Coalition will also provide more recognition for Veterans’ widows and wives; a ‘VWWInc’ website for networking, information and advice; a national memorial recognising the contribution of widows and wives will be funded after consultation; and there will be help to identify, contact and encourage eligible indigenous war widows to apply for their entitlements.”

In addition, the Coalition will provide support to help Veterans make the transition from post-deployment and military life. The ‘We’ll Be There’ programme will provide training and support for volunteer veterans and ex-service people, to be available 24 hours a day, to speak directly to veterans. This programme will complement existing services provided by Vietnam Veterans’ Counselling Service.

There will be $7.5 million to expand the Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) Programme and the Training and Information Programme (TIP).

“These programmes assist ex-service organisations to provide pension and welfare assistance with resources and support,” Mr Forrest said. Giving these organisations support and training will help members of the veteran community and their family to receive practical assistance with claims for assistance from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

A response will be made to the Review of Military Compensation Arrangements. There is concern regarding the inflexibility of the current Act and the compulsory aspect of the rehabilitation requirement. There will be consultation with the veteran and ex-service community following the review.

The Coalition will provide $100,000 towards the building of the Montevideo Maru memorial in the 2011-12 Budget recognising those who lost their lives on the Montevideo Maru and in the Fall of Rabaul in 1942.

An audit will be conducted into the locations of National Service Records, including the first and second intake, with the intention of having these records centrally located.

Mr Forrest said as previously announced, the Coalition will introduce new indexation arrangements for members of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB).

“Under a Coalition Government, from July next year, beneficiaries of the DFRB and DFRDB schemes aged 55 and over will have their pensions indexed to whichever is the highest of three indexes, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI),” Mr

Forrest said.

“Australia’s service personnel, past and present, deserve respect and recognition from the community for their service. The Coalition is committed to caring for Australia’s veterans and their families and understands that this can only be achieved with renewed compassion, understanding and action.”

Mr Forrest can be contacted on 0428 500 186.