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Veterans' health cause for concern.



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Australian Labor Party National ALP

Mark Bishop - Veterans' Health Cause for Concern http://www.alp.org.au//media/0804/20008173.html Thursday, 12 August 2004

ALP News Statements

Veterans and ex service personnel concerned at the decades of denial that past exposure to hazardous material was linked to current illness, should continue to be concerned as a result of today's report of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee

Veterans and ex service people have long expressed concern that past exposure in Japan, Korea, Vietnam and in Australia to radiation from atomic bombs, Agent Orange and a range of hazardous chemicals in particular, have not been accepted as the cause of serious illnesses and death, nor for health care and compensation.

The Committee found that veterans' concerns were well founded, and that focussed research and health surveys have not been conducted until recent years.

Recent surveys of the mortality of Korean, Gulf War and Vietnam veterans had shown clear cause for concern which was challenging long standing policy.

Medical science had now developed to an extent where a fresh look at many of these exposures is warranted.

The Committee found that while there had been significant improvement in the preparation of health protection and data collection during recent deployments, record keeping remained a serious problem.

In fact, the Committee's report describes Defence health record keeping as "chaotic".

This is not good enough in an electronic age and the planned implementation date for a new system Healthkeys in 2008 is too far away.

The Committee also established that ADF personnel needed to be better informed of their health exposure risks, including full information of vaccination programs. The anthrax vaccination program implemented prior to embarkation to Iraq was found to be defective in a number of aspects, though some reporting of shortcomings was

exaggerated.

Labor, when elected to government will ensure that the findings and recommendations of this detailed and valuable report will be fully followed up.

Authorised by Tim Gartrell, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.