Welcome to DVA Updates

This section provides information about changes and updates in government legislation, DVA policies and programs, and includes articles that you'll find on the Latest News for Veterans page of the DVA website (dva.gov.au/latest-news).

Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) Statements of Principles (SOPs) Information

RMA SOPs, declarations and investigations can be directly accessed on the Repatriation Medical Authority’s website. Further information can be located at CLIK SOP

Changes to the ESO Portal - 2nd March 2024 New

Please be aware of upcoming changes to the ESO Portal occurring 2nd March 2024.

1. ESO Portal – Display Qualifying Service in Client Summary

This change is an enhancement to the ESO Portal to display the Qualifying Service flag on the client entitlement summary page under the 'Additional Information' heading. This will improve processing times as the advocates will no longer need to contact DVA to confirm the veterans qualifying service information.

2. ESO Portal – Claim Details Page Displaying Incorrect Act Type

This change will resolve a display issue where the Claim Details Page in the online portal is incorrectly showing the Claim Type as VEA, instead of DRCA only.

3. ESO Portal – Remove Browser Pop-Ups

This change will resolve an issue where some functions are not working for advocates in the Windows 11 Edge browser because of blocked pop-ups and preventing them from completing the claim. The browser pop-ups will now be removed and replaced with text.

Veterans’ Legislation Reform – Consultation on proposed changesNew

Legislation Reform

The Government has today announced the commencement of public consultation on proposed changes to simplify veterans’ entitlements, compensation and rehabilitation legislation.

This important body of work is the next step in responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s Interim Report.

The Government is seeking comments on the draft Veterans’ Entitlements, Treatment and Support (Simplification and Harmonisation) Bill 2024 that, if passed by Parliament, will reform more than a century of veteran compensation legislation.

The Bill would implement a ‘single Act’ model with the following core elements:

  • An improved Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (MRCA) where all new claims for compensation and rehabilitation will be considered under the improved MRCA; and
  • Closing the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence‑related claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) to new claims for compensation and rehabilitation, with grandparenting of already approved VEA/DRCA compensation payments.

The proposed changes will see the MRCA enhanced for various entitlements, including:

  1. the introduction of a new Additional Disablement Amount (ADA), similar to the Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) available under the VEA. Like EDA, the ADA would compensate veterans who are Age Pension age or older and who have a high degree of incapacity due to service-related conditions.
  2. the introduction of ‘presumptive liability’, which means the Repatriation Commission would be able to specify injuries and diseases that can be determined on a presumptive (in other words – automatic unless proven otherwise) basis where they are known to have a common connection with military service.
  3. consolidation of household and attendant care, travel for treatment, and retention of automatic granting of VEA funeral benefits in the MRCA.
  4. an increase to $3,000 for funeral allowance for previous automatic grant categories under the VEA, and the availability of reimbursement of funeral expenses up to $14,062 for all service related deaths.
  5. the availability to all veterans of the higher travel reimbursement amount, regardless of kilometres, when a private vehicle is used to travel for treatment.
  6. standardisation of allowances and other payments, including: acute support packages, Victoria Cross and decoration allowances, education schemes, prisoner of war ex gratia payments, and additional compensation for children of severely impaired veterans.
  7. enhancement of the Commission’s ability to grant special assistance to veterans and their dependants.

Feedback and submissions during public consultation in 2023 on the pathway for legislation reform has helped the Government to respond to issues of most concern.

Further details on the proposed changes, how they impact veterans, and how to provide feedback, can be found on the DVA website.

Submissions will be accepted until 28 April 2024.

Improving Your MyService Experience

MyService

Modernising DVA's ICT is one of our top priorities and a focus of the Royal Commission's Interim Report.

Recent enhancements to MyService are making it easier for veterans and families to lodge claims and access support and services.

When claiming Initial Liability, Disability Compensation Payment, Application for Increase to Disability Compensation Payments and (from 26 February 2024) Permanent Impairment claims (DRCA/MRCA), you are now:

  • prompted to provide the information needed to support the claim at the time you submit it
  • notified through your myGov inbox if we need further information about your claim, along with a Task to complete that helps you to provide the additional information required
  • given enhanced options to upload documents to your claims, including any 'Other' documents you might like to add up until determination, and view details of your documents and claims.

This means you can now view up-to-date information and provide all documents via MyService for all claims, whether submitted through MyService or other channels, reducing the need to send that information by email or post.

For more information, please see the MyService Enhancements Factsheet. For any further assistance, please call DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

Booked Car with Driver (BCWD) service infographic launched

Gold or White Card holders with eligibility under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) may be able to access the Booked Car with Driver (BCWD) service, where DVA arranges taxi or hire car travel on behalf of the client with no out of pocket expenses.

The service is designed to meet the needs of vulnerable clients who meet certain criteria.

Clients who are aged 80 years and older, or are living with dementia (any age), or are legally blind (any age), can access BCWD to attend approved treatment at all locations. Clients aged 79 years or younger may still have access if certain medical and treatment location criteria are met. White Card holders must also be travelling for treatment of a condition covered by their Card to be eligible.

Improving communication on BCWD is a priority, so we’ve developed an infographic to highlight who is eligible and how they can access the service.

The infographic is available to download online at www.dva.gov.au/bcwd. Feel free to print and display the infographic in areas that clients will see.

You can also contact DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) for further information on access and eligibility.

Attached: Booked Car with Driver Infograph

Statement from the Secretary of DVA on the Veterans’ MATES Program

Veterans' MATES program

The Department is aware that the withdrawal of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Human Research Ethics Committee approval on Monday, 5 February 2024 has increased concerns in the veteran community regarding the Veterans’ MATES Program (MATES), particularly in relation to the sharing of data. MATES has sought to support veterans and their families to manage their health and aligns strongly with DVA’s objective to proactively support the health and wellbeing of veterans.

It is important to note that there has not been any unauthorised access of veteran data. The data has not been made available publicly or for nefarious purposes. DVA only ever provided client data for the purposes of MATES to a trusted organisation, the University of South Australia (UniSA) under strict data security and access policies.

DVA provided the data to UniSA in accordance with the ethics approvals in place at the time. This was done via a secure and carefully controlled channel. UniSA stored the data in a secure facility. Billing data was automatically de-identified before being accessed by researchers for the thematic review under the MATES program. The data did not include doctor’s notes. Identifying data was only used to communicate with the veteran themselves, as well as their doctor, in the event that the analysis of the de-identified data revealed risks to the veteran’s health. The letters that went to veterans and their doctors provided invaluable insights that supported those veterans receiving the most appropriate treatment possible.

Following an Office of the Australian Information Commissioner decision in April 2023, an external review was conducted concerning the administration of opt-out procedures in the MATES program. The review concluded all other such requests received by DVA to opt out of MATES had been properly implemented.

DVA takes its obligations under the Privacy Act extremely seriously and in August 2023 paused any provision of data to UniSA to enable a thorough examination of the existing arrangements. Since this time, no data transfers have occurred.

On 9 February, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs asked the Department to close down the MATES program and examine options for possible future programs that provide health benefits to the veteran community while meeting community and stakeholder expectations around ethical and data use requirements. Any future program would be subject to a new Ethics Committee approval.

Alison Frame
Secretary

Invitation for ex-service organisations to apply for advocacy funding

BEST Grants

Applications for the 2024-25 round of the Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) grants program are now open.

Ex-service organisations (ESOs) are invited to apply for a share in $4.731 million in funding to support them to provide compensation and wellbeing advocacy services to veterans and families.

ESOs are a great support to local veteran communities. Many offer advocacy services, providing assistance about a range of veteran issues from advice about entitlements, health and wellbeing services, and claims.

In the 2023-2024 funding round, $4.551 million was provided to 109 successful applicants, located across the country in every state and territory of Australia.

Apply online at grants.gov.au before 9:00pm AEDT on 29 February 2024.

For more information please visit Building Excellence in Support and Training or phone the Community Grants Hub on 1800 020 283.

Changes to the DVA Rehabilitation Program in 2024

DVA Rehabilitation Program

DVA is transforming the way we meet the needs of veterans by making it easier for veterans and their families to engage with the department, and make the services we offer more accessible.

DVA is transforming the way we meet the needs of veterans by making it easier for veterans and their families to engage with the department, and make the services we offer more accessible.

Rest assured that there will be no reduction to the quality or scope of rehabilitation services provided to veterans. Providers will continue to deliver services to veterans living Australia wide and also veterans who are based internationally.

The new Rehabilitation Program model will guarantee continuity of care and services for our clients and increase uniformity amongst providers. This means the provider of your rehabilitation services may change this year, but the level of support and services won’t.

In order to facilitate the consistent provision of rehabilitation services to veterans across the country, service provider contracts will be revised to provide greater consistency and a more personalised service experience for veterans.

Need more information? Visit the link here for more information on the Rehabilitation Program

2024-25 Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) grant program opening soon

It is planned that applications for the 2024-25 round of BEST will open later in January, and ex-service organisations (ESOs) who are providing compensation and/or wellbeing advocacy are encouraged to apply.

The BEST grant program is designed to support the work of ESOs that provide advocacy services to the veteran community, by providing a contribution to the work of their advocates and support staff. This may include funding a contribution for the salary of compensation advocates and their administrative support staff, as well as equipment, and administrative expenses which may be incurred when delivering services to veterans and families.

When applications open, ESOs can find the grant documents and the online application on Grant Connect.

Permanent increase for the Work Bonus Bank

Veterans and partners who receive the Service Pension, Income Support Supplement or Age Pension and are entitled to the Work Bonus will be able to earn more income from employment before it affects their pension entitlements.

From 1 January 2024, the maximum limit for Work Bonus Bank balances will be permanently increased. This includes an increase to the maximum allowed Work Bonus Bank balance from $7,800 to $11,800, and will provide all newly eligible Work Bonus Bank clients with a starting Work Bonus Bank balance of $4,000.

In addition, beginning 1 July 2024, former Work Bonus Bank clients with a preserved Work Bonus Bank balance who are re-joining the scheme may be eligible to receive a top-up to ensure their balance is equal to $4,000 upon recommencement.

These changes will allow pensioners the opportunity to earn more income without affecting their pension, which will improve the financial independence and wellbeing of veterans and families.

More information about the Work Bonus Bank is available on the DVA website.

Australian businesses say ‘thank you’ with discounts for veterans this Christmas

Australian Partners of Defence

Veteran Card holders and spouses can access DVA’s Veteran Benefits Program, delivered by Australian Partners of Defence (APOD), to shop for discounts on gifts, goods and services this Christmas.

Even for the most festive at heart, we know the holiday season can be an expensive and stressful time of year.

APOD offers an extensive range of products and services from affiliated businesses at rates discounted for veteran families. Offers include discounted fuel, which might be handy for those family trips over the holidays, and savings on your groceries or car hire whilst travelling. There’s also a large range of veteran-owned businesses that you can support through APOD.

Use the new APOD App to shop for fuel and other discounts while on the go, or just to access your digital Veteran Card!

Visit https://apod.com.au or download the APOD App on your Apple or Android device.

Applications for Veteran Wellbeing Grants now open!

Ex-service organisations (ESOs) and the community groups they support can now apply for funding opportunities under the Veteran Wellbeing Grants (VWG) program.

The VWG program funds sustainable community-based projects and activities provided by eligible ESOs to benefit the health and wellbeing of veterans and families.

The 2023–2024 round has $3.777 million in Government funding available for projects and activities that aim to:

  • improve the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and families
  • increase awareness of issues specific to the veteran community 
  • provide safe and accessible environments that promote social connection 
  • positively engage or benefit younger veterans.

Some initiatives that received funding in the 2022–2023 round included a veteran-led photography exhibition showcasing imagery taken during service, yoga classes focused on mindfulness, blacksmithing courses and community connection programs, to name a few.

Any ESOs passionate about making a lasting and positive impact on the lives of veterans and families are encouraged to apply.

We can’t wait to see what projects are supported in the 2023–2024 VWG.

For more information, visit Veteran Wellbeing Grants Program | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au)

Those interested in applying can visit GrantConnect for more details.

Applications for the 2023–2024 round of Veteran Wellbeing Grants close on 23 January 2024.

Supporting veterans with in-home community nursing services

Community Nursing in DVA

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) funds in-home community nursing services through the Community Nursing program. The Community Nursing program is designed to support eligible veterans and veteran card holders by providing clinically required nursing and personal care services, to support them to remain independent in their own homes. Services can include assistance with medication, wound care, hygiene, showering, dressing and palliative care.

The Community Nursing program aims to improve health outcomes and quality of life, and avoid early admission to hospital or residential aged care. Community nursing services may be provided where an assessed need for care at home is required by a Veteran Gold Card holder, or for a Veteran White Card holder where the care is for an accepted service-related condition.

Services are delivered by DVA contracted Community Nursing providers (Panel of Community Nursing providers). A written referral must be obtained and sent directly to the closest provider available. The referral must be from one of the below authorised referral sources:

  • General practitioner (GP)
  • Treating medical practitioner in a hospital
  • Hospital discharge planner
  • Nurse practitioner specialising in a Community Nursing field.

The Panel of DVA contracted Community Nursing providers can be found on the DVA website: Panel of community nursing providers.

Once the DVA contracted Community Nursing provider receives the authorised referral, their registered nurse will contact the client to arrange an in-home assessment. There is no co-payment required for DVA community nursing services.

You can download the Community Nursing services booklet ‘A guide for veterans, family members and carers’ from the DVA website. Alternatively you can request hard copies of this booklet by emailing: nursing@dva.gov.au

For further information, visit the DVA website: Community Nursing program

Ph: 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

Community Support Advisors in DVA

Community Support Advisors in DVA

Working within a nationally dispersed team, your local DVA Community Support Advisor (CSA) offers local, focused support and guidance to strengthen the capabilities of ex-service organisations, veterans and family groups.

CSAs offer information sessions about DVA services, supports and social health programs, and support to ESOs who are interested in creating collaborative opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families. CSAs are here to support your organisation, to support your members.

Veterans’ Health Week is an annual event promoting one of the 4 health pillars of Mental Wellness, Social Connection, Physical Health, and Nutrition. With up to $720 available to support events run by veteran support organisations, this year’s VHW saw over 660 applications accepted nationally, proving the program’s success and popularity.

Veterans’ Health Week often inspires the creation of small, one-off events, courses and workshops and some of these initiatives may be eligible for Health & Wellbeing funding. This seed funding provides the start-up funds for ongoing health and wellbeing programs with an initial financial investment of up to $2000 to help get them off the ground.

Successful applications have included funding for surfboards, camping equipment, guitars and musical instruments, lawn bowls, gardening tools, and yoga equipment for ESOs to run ongoing group activities and programs, supporting their local community’s health and wellbeing.

With a range of support programs on offer, including Heart Health, Men’s Health Peer Education and Veteran Health Check, the Community Support team encourage veteran and family focused groups to connect and find out more. Please see https://www.dva.gov.au/get-support/health-support/work-and-social-life-programs/community-support-team

Client Support Officers

If you submit an Initial Liability claim for one of your clients you are likely to speak to one of our Client Support Officers (CSOs) at the beginning of the investigation. CSOs have been used more frequently in recent months to start our claims and allow our delegates to focus on the critical aspects of their role: interpreting the legislation and issuing decisions efficiently. Over the years a barrier to that goal was the administration delegates faced in gathering the required medical information to reach the determination stage. By having a dedicated team at the front end that is trained and working in conjunction with delegates, we are endeavouring to provide a completed claim (all the required evidence) to a delegate. Allowing the delegates to use their skills and energies on reviewing the information and making a decision.

What if I submit a complete claim with all the evidence?

That’s great! Upon registration it will be allocated to a CSO who will review the claim and confirm that it is ready to be investigated and transferred to a team of delegates. This is still the quickest way for your claim to get to the determinations stage: if at lodgement you provide all the information and evidence that supports the contention. By doing so you will have made your client’s claim process far quicker.

We also know there are instances when you will be unable to provide all the required evidence and in those situations the CSO will be in touch and work with you on what is required, or organise the appropriate appointments.

Most importantly, the CSO process will not delay the claim getting to a delegate. The CSO will be striving to get the claim in ‘ready to investigate’ shape (all the evidence is on file, ready to review) and passed on to a delegate, as soon as they have everything they need. The CSO role serves to enhance and quicken the claim evidence gathering stage, so don’t worry if it’s a CSO that you first speak to. The delegate is on the way as soon as we have all the required information, working with the CSO will be the fastest way to reach that end.

ADF Firefighters

The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Regulations 2019 has been amended to include eight prescribed types of cancers for subsection 7(8) of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988, with a commencement date of 05 October 2023.

The eight prescribed types of cancer, and qualifying periods of service as a firefighter for those diseases, that have been added for the purposes of item 13 of the table in subsection 7(8) of the Act are:

  1. Primary site lung cancer with a qualifying period of 15 years;
  2. Primary site skin cancer with a qualifying period of 15 years;
  3. Primary site cervical cancer with a qualifying period of 10 years;
  4. Primary site ovarian cancer with a qualifying period of 10 years;
  5. Primary site penile cancer with a qualifying period of 15 years;
  6. Primary site pancreatic cancer with a qualifying period of 10 years;
  7. Primary site thyroid cancer with a qualifying period of 10 years; and
  8. Malignant mesothelioma with a qualifying period of 15 years.

The changes to the regulations will make it easier for veterans who served as firefighters to establish liability for the following forms of cancer for the purposes of compensation and rehabilitation.

The changes form part of a package of legislative amendments for firefighters which included amendment to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-Related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) through the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures No.2) Act 2023 and aligns coverage for Australian Defence Force firefighters with changes made for their civilian counterparts in late 2022 under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

The amendments apply to decisions made under the Act (including a decision on reconsideration or review under Part IV of the Act) after the amendments commence, and apply to a prescribed cancer sustained by an employee on or after 4 July 2011.

These provisions apply only to firefighting service by members of the Defence Force prior to 1 July 2004, which is covered by the DRCA.

All firefighters employed by the ADF from 1 July 2004 are covered by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004. Claims under the MRCA are assessed in accordance with the Statements of Principles for the relevant condition. There are no prescribed conditions provisions under the MRCA.

For more information, visit 22.4.5 ADF Firefighters | Military Compensation SRCA Manuals and Resources Library, Liability Handbook, Ch 22 Declared Occupational Diseases, 22.4 Specific Types of Service

DVA Wellbeing and Support Program (WASP)

The DVA Wellbeing and Support Program (WASP) is a free and voluntary program providing intensive, face-to-face case management support aimed at improving veteran wellbeing and building capacity towards self-management.

Veterans participating in this program will be supported by DVA case managers, and community case workers to identify their wellbeing goals. The case management team will link the veteran and their family to suitable services or programs administered by the department, as well as mainstream health support services.

The aim of the Program is to support veteran engagement with psychosocial activities to improve social and community connection by providing a strong therapeutic alliance with the veteran, their family and treating health professionals

The Wellbeing and Support Program is available to veterans across Australia who provide their consent to participate in the program.

For more information, visit www.dva.gov.au/get-support/health-support/work-and-social-life-programs/wellbeing-and-support-program-wasp.

Phone: 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) Email: GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au

Important update for 2001 Study of Health Outcomes in Aircraft Maintenance Personnel participants

F1-11 at Darwin

In 2001, the Study of Health Outcomes in Aircraft Maintenance Personnel (SHOAMP) was commissioned by the Department of Defence to investigate health outcomes in aircraft- maintenance personnel who carried out fuel-tank repairs between 1975 to 1999 as part of the F- 111 Deseal/Reseal programs.

Some of these personnel volunteered to be participants of the study and donated their blood- serum samples for long-term storage to support the study over time, for example conducting further testing should scientific developments enable future analysis.

At the time of the study, some participants agreed to their samples being stored for a period of 50 years and were advised that they would be informed of any changes to serum-sample storage arrangements.

To ensure continued long-term storage, and with the support of the SHOAMP Serum Management Committee (of which Air Force Association is a member), serum samples donated by study participants have been moved from their original storage at QML Pathology to state-of- the-art bio-banking facilities at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has been contracted — with the support of the SHOAMP Serum Management Committee — to manage on-going storage of the data-linkage key which contains the information that allows a participant sample to be identified and withdrawn from storage.

Participants can withdraw consent for their sample to be used in further research. Any SHOAMP participant who wishes to withdraw their consent can contact the Australian Institute of Family Studies on shoamp-requests@aifs.gov.au or complete the online form at www.aifs.gov.au/shoamp-request.

Ethics approvals were granted by the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs Human Research Ethics Committee prior to the changes in SHOAMP storage arrangements.

Participant privacy continues to be a primary consideration. At no time has Defence or DVA received identifying participant information.

As outlined in the original information provided to study participants, de-identified participant study data is held by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

There is no impact on, or change to, SHOAMP Health Care Scheme entitlements. Click here if you would like information about the SHOAMP Health Care Scheme.

For more information, visit www.dva.gov.au/shoamp-storage-arrangements.

Scams Awareness Week 2023

This Scams Awareness Week (27 November – 1 December 2023), we are encouraging the veteran community to be on alert for scams impersonating government organisations, including DVA. 

Scams imitating departments and services such as the Australian Tax Office or MyGov are increasingly common and can be received by phone, email or SMS. If you do receive digital correspondence, don’t automatically assume the person you are dealing with is who they say they are. Ask yourself, “who’s really there?”

It is important to protect your personal information online and be vigilant about what information you share publically. Don’t click on links received in text messages. Never open or download any attachments or apps from unfamiliar sources as these can install malicious software on your computer or phone and provide access to your personal information.

Scammers impersonating a government department or law enforcement agency may also try to threaten you with arrest or ask you to pay money. Immediately cut contact with anyone who tries to threaten or intimidate you and contact the agency they claim to be from.

We urge you to “STOP, THINK, PROTECT”.

STOP – do not give money or personal information unless you are sure you are speaking with a legitimate agency.

THINK – ask yourself, could the message or call be fake?

PROTECT – act quickly if something feels wrong.

Scammers are very good at what they do and appear very convincing. Don’t open or download any attachments or apps, don’t transfer money to another account to “keep it safe”, and cut ties immediately with anyone who threatens or intimidates you.

If you are unsure or think you may have been the victim of a scam, act immediately. Contact the Police and file a report with the National Anti-Scam Centre via Scamwatch.gov.au

The National Anti-Scam Centre has published a guide with links to resources that can help you protect your personal information online.

For more information visit the Scamwatch page here

Improving DVA medical assessment forms

In May 2023, we commenced a project to review medical assessment forms to improve how DVA obtains medical information from doctors for veteran’s compensation claims. The first seven forms are now in use and have been published on DVA’s web page for health care providers. A further eight forms will be released in November 2023, with the review continuing through to mid-2024.

The review of the compensation medical forms is one initiative to gain efficiencies in the claims process and to respond to feedback from medical providers, advocates, veterans and families on the forms complexity.

The review will deliver forms that are consolidated, simplified and easier for medical providers to understand. While also assisting delegates to obtain and understand the information they need to make a decision on a claim. These outcomes will help to improve claim assessment times.

The other focus of the project is to prepare the compensation medical forms for digitisation and the possible efficiencies that can be gained through the use of digital forms and compatibility with medical provider software.

The review process included internal consultation and external consultation with medical providers and their representative organisations, ex-service organisations and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government.

The project outcomes achieved to date include:

  • Stage one - 19 most frequently used forms consolidated into seven forms, reducing 33 pages to 17 pages.
  • Stage two - 20 MRCA/VEA forms consolidated into eight forms, reducing 56 pages to 22 pages.

To find the new medical impairment assessment forms on the ‘Find forms’ page, to search for them via title using the term ‘Medical Impairment Assessment’.

If you have any questions or any feedback on the new or existing medical forms please email Business.Improvement.CBD@dva.gov.au. For more information, visit Compensation claims information for providers

Updated Statement of Principles (SOP)

The Repatriation Medical Authority has issued new SOPs, with numbers 90 to 104, as follows:

    New Conditions
  • 90 & 91/2023 – Pericarditis
  • Revocations & Determinations
  • 92 & 93/2023 – Trochanteric bursitis
  • 94 & 95/2023 – Gluteal tendinopathy
  • 96 & 97/2023 – Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)
  • 98 & 99/2023 – Chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the lower leg (CECD)
  • 100 & 101/2023 – Anxiety disorder
  • 102 & 103/2023 – Malignant neoplasm of the salivary gland
  • Amendments
  • 104/2023 – Parkinson’s disease and secondary parkinsonism

The new SOPs will take effect on Tuesday 28 November 2023.

For further information, visit What's New – Repatriation Medical Authority (rma.gov.au) or Legislative Instruments - Determinations/Veterans' Entitlements -Registration date (legislation.gov.au).

Improving DVA medical assessment forms

In May 2023, we commenced a project to review medical assessment forms to improve how DVA obtains medical information from doctors for veteran’s compensation claims. The first seven forms are now in use and have been published on DVA’s web page for health care providers. A further eight forms will be released in November 2023, with the review continuing through to mid-2024.

The review of the compensation medical forms is one initiative to gain efficiencies in the claims process and to respond to feedback from medical providers, advocates, veterans and families on the forms complexity.

The review will deliver forms that are consolidated, simplified and easier for medical providers to understand. While also assisting delegates to obtain and understand the information they need to make a decision on a claim. These outcomes will help to improve claim assessment times.

The other focus of the project is to prepare the compensation medical forms for digitisation and the possible efficiencies that can be gained through the use of digital forms and compatibility with medical provider software.

The review process included internal consultation and external consultation with medical providers and their representative organisations, ex-service organisations and the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government.

The project outcomes achieved to date include:

  • Stage one - 19 most frequently used forms consolidated into seven forms, reducing 33 pages to 17 pages.
  • Stage two - 20 MRCA/VEA forms consolidated into eight forms, reducing 56 pages to 22 pages.

To find the new medical impairment assessment forms on the ‘Find forms’ page, to search for them via title using the term ‘Medical Impairment Assessment’.

If you have any questions or any feedback on the new or existing medical forms please email Business.Improvement.CBD@dva.gov.au. For more information, visit Compensation claims information for providers

DVA services during the holiday season

Christmas 2023

DVA will continue to provide support to veterans and families during the holiday season. However, please be aware that some services will be impacted.

For information regarding the availability of DVA services during the holiday period, visit the DVA website.

Please note that ATDP staff will be unavailable over the Christmas / New Year period from Saturday 23 December 2023 to Monday 1 January 2024 inclusive, and will return on Tuesday 2 January 2024.

It is now easier for eligible DVA clients with diabetes to obtain Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) to monitor their diabetes

Glucose Monitoring

From 1 November 2023, eligible Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) clients with diabetes can see their General Practitioner (GP), diabetes clinic, diabetes educator, a Registered Nurse (RN) or their specialist to be prescribed a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM).

Use of CGMs have been found to improve the lives of people living with diabetes by providing them a greater understanding of their condition, enabling them to better manage their glucose levels and reduce the risk of complications.

Why are these changes happening?

Previously, the initial request for a CGM had to be made by the client’s Endocrinologist. The new prescribing arrangements make it easier for eligible clients to access CGMs funded by DVA, particularly in regional and remote areas. It will also be easier for clients to access CGM consumables (for example CGM sensors) through a three monthly DVA subscription service.

Who is eligible?

Clients must hold a Veteran Gold Card (and have diabetes), or a White Card (with a DVA-accepted condition of diabetes) and must live in Australia.

DVA clients do not require a state or territory diabetes membership to access DVA-funded diabetes products. For further information about how DVA reimburses diabetes memberships go to www.dva.gov.au/diabetes.

Further information regarding accessing CGM will be available in the December edition of the Advocacy News.

GPs incentivised to accept Veteran Cards

GP Incentives

From today, general practitioners (GPs) will be eligible to receive greater incentives to treat members of the veteran community who use their Veteran Card as payment. This is part of the Government’s 2023-24 investment in DVA, to ensure veterans and their families have access to health and wellbeing services they need to live well after service.

The existing Veterans’ Access Payment (VAP) for GPs will be tripled, aiming to boost the number of GPs who treat Veteran Card holders under DVA billing arrangements.

The tripled VAP will apply to general face-to-face consultation greater than six minutes including home visits for people who are homebound, and consultations in residential aged-care facilities.

Additionally, the tripled VAP will apply to video and telephone GP consultations longer than six minutes. For video and telephone consultations longer than 20 minutes, a Veteran Card holder must also be registered with MyMedicare.

If your Veteran Card is accepted, you won’t be charged a gap fee. We encourage Veteran Card holders to confirm their GP accepts their Veteran Card prior to booking an appointment.

We’re proud to work with GPs to ensure veterans have access to health and wellbeing services they need to live well after service. We’d also like to thank the thousands of GPs across the country who accept Veteran Cards for their support and services to our veteran community.

For those Veteran Card holders who don’t already have a regular GP, please get in contact with your local GP practice to find out if they accept DVA Veteran Cards before your visit.

If you’ve served in the Australian Defence Force and don’t have a Veteran Card, please contact us via email at GeneralEnquiries@dva.gov.au, or over the phone at 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) to see if you’re eligible.

Recent and upcoming updates to the MyService experience

MyService

Under the Modernisation Program, DVA is working to improve the claiming process in MyService. We are pleased to announce that from Sunday 15 October 2023 you will see some new features in MyService. The following improvements will first be applied to Initial Liability claims, but over time you will see these changes applied to other claims:

  • Prompts to help you provide the information needed to support a claim at the time you submit it.
  • Notification through the myGov Inbox if we need further information about your claim, along with a link to a MyService task that provides you with all the information you need to provide the additional information.
  • An enhanced MyService experience for uploading documents to your claims, as well as viewing details of your documents and claims.
  • The ability for you to view information and provide documents via MyService for all claims whether submitted through MyService or other channels, reducing the need to send that information by paper or email. This capability provides you with a more intuitive document upload experience, including the ability to add any 'Other' documents they like to their claim up until determination, and view all the documents uploaded in MyService against their claim at any time.

For more information see the Updating and Enhancing MyService factsheet or if you need any assistance, please call 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

MyService Claims Enhancements Project

DVA is working to further modernise its technology to improve the efficiency of the claims administration system and the experience for veterans and their families.

The MyService Claims Enhancements project, being delivered under the Modernisation Program, will deliver new capabilities for Initial Liability (IL) claims on 15 October 2023. The new capabilities in MyService will deliver improvements to the claiming experience for veterans and their families and include:

  • tailored messaging on the required supporting documentation needed for a complete claim to be submitted in MyService
  • display of key information about all IL claims , irrespective of which channel was used for claim submission
  • the display of a new status ‘awaiting your information’ to provide visibility to the veteran and their families when the department is waiting on information to progress the claim
  • notification through myGov to remind claimants that there is outstanding information required to progress the claim and of tasks in MyService to request documentation
  • improved document upload capability for all claims including those not lodged through MyService. This will enable veterans and their families to provide the information using MyService rather than surface mail. This capability provides clients with a more intuitive document upload experience, including the ability to add any 'Other' documents they like to their claim up until determination, and view all the documents uploaded in MyService against their claim at any time.

Further information will be made available for veterans and their representatives on the DVA website after the release.

Tax Time Scam Awareness

Tax Scam Alert

Do you need to submit a tax return this year? If you do, make sure you lodge it with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) by 31 October 2023. While the ATO is busy processing returns, scammers are also keeping busy coming up with ways to con people out of their money.

Scammers are getting craftier every year. This financial year, be aware of scammers impersonating the ATO. Be aware of unsolicited emails and never click on links in emails or text messages.

The ATO may sometimes contact you by phone, email, SMS and post, but it will never ask for personal account information, like your bank account details, or ask you to verify your identity over the phone or via a link, email, text messages or social media.

Scammers use many different techniques to gain access to people’s personal bank accounts and often claim to be from a Government agency. The ATO will never ask you to make payment of a tax bill over the phone, and will never ask for your credit card details.

So, how can you protect yourself this tax time?

  • Change your password. Consider changing your password regularly, and using two-factor authentication, such as a password and code sent to your email or mobile phone.
  • Keep your money safe. Never process a payment or transaction over the phone where you did not initiate the contact.
  • Initiate contact yourself. If in doubt, contact the ATO directly on 1800 008 540 to check if the contact is legitimate.
  • Report it. If it sounds like an obvious scam, it probably is. Report it to the ATO through its verify or report a scam page to help keep others safe. You can also report it through DVA on the avoiding and reporting a suspect scam page to keep the veteran community informed.

Need more information? The ATO has lots of information and resources on identity security and scams to keep you safe this tax time, and throughout the year.

New Caboolture Hub - a win for veterans and families in Southeast Queensland

New hub at Caboolture, QLD

Tailored services and support is now available to veterans and families across Southeast Queensland, with the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Matt Keogh, officially opening a Veteran’s and Families’ Hub in Caboolture today.

The new hub means veterans and families living on the Sunshine Coast, across the City of Moreton Bay and those residing in Brisbane North have access to employment, housing, transition, advocacy, mental health and wellbeing support, along with counselling and opportunities to enhance their social connections.

The new hub is operated by Lives Lived Well and is open to all current and former serving Australian Defence Force members, including reservists, and their families.

Lives Lived Well has partnered with a number of ex-service organisations and key agencies to ensure they are providing wrap around support for veterans and their families.

Veterans and families who live in Southeast Queensland are encouraged to drop by for a cuppa and a chat. The hub is located at 12 King St, Caboolture, QLD, 4510.

Support is also available over the phone or online, simply call 1300 727 957 or send the team an email at vwc@liveslivedwell.org.au

The launch of the Caboolture Veterans’ and Families’ Hub is part of the Government’s $46.7 million commitment to deliver eight new Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs across the country.

For more information about the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs, visit www.dva.gov.au/vfhubs

Joint Communiqué - Minister Keogh
Veterans' Ministerial Council

Federal, State and Territory Ministers responsible for veterans’ matters met in Perth today, committing to strengthening national collaboration on the services and supports available for veterans and their families.

The Veterans’ Ministerial Council was joined by the United Kingdom Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, the Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP, who is currently visiting Australia. Minister Mercer provided an update on matters of importance to UK veterans and families and shared insights into the UK veteran landscape.

Harmonisation of veteran recognition and concessions

Given the transient nature of defence service and the probability of a veteran family relocating following service, Ministers acknowledged the need for clearer and more consistent veteran concession arrangements. Ministers discussed opportunities for national harmonisation and mutual recognition of relevant identification documents, such as concession cards. Ministers agreed to work collaboratively towards this goal, recognising the need to improve collaboration in support of currently serving defence personnel and families who frequently move around the country.

Similarly, Ministers acknowledged this transient lifestyle had an impact on Defence and veteran families, particularly children. They considered the merits of including a ‘Defence and/or Veteran Family’ identifier on school enrolment forms to help identify the children of current and former Australian Defence Force personnel and other strategies to simplify access to education. This initiative is currently being progressed in the ACT and South Australia. Ministers noted the potential benefits of this initiative, intended to improve the school based supports for children from veteran families. Ministers agreed to explore this in their relevant jurisdictions.

Veteran Mental Health Support

The Council agreed that the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has made it abundantly clear that more needs to be done to support the mental health and wellbeing of Defence personnel, veterans and families. The Council was briefed on the development of the inaugural joint Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy; progress of the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs program; the recently released Veteran Transition Strategy; and the implementation of the recommendations of the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

With this commitment to improving mental health outcomes for Australian veterans and families, Ministers discussed the desirability of a national approach to psychiatric assistance dog accreditation and agreed to work together to progress national standards.

Research underway

Representatives from the Western Australian and South Australian Governments delivered a presentation on the work they are doing to better support and understand veterans in the corrective services system. The Council discussed the need to improve data collection relating to veterans’ incarceration and homelessness, with research into these issues currently underway.

Have your say on the housing and homelessness plan

The Australian Government is committed to supporting veterans who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless so they have access to the services and supports they and their families need, including through its $30 million commitment to support at risk veterans through the Housing Australia Future Fund.

The Government has committed to an ambitious housing agenda and the establishment of the National Housing and Homelessness Plan (the Plan) for release in 2024, a 10-year strategy which will set out a shared vision to improve housing outcomes and help address homelessness in Australia.

The Plan will consider the housing system as a whole, providing an opportunity to better unite governments and sectors and will identify key short, medium and long-term reforms needed to improve outcomes across the housing spectrum and address homelessness.

You are invited to share your ideas and experiences by either responding to guided, short-form questions or lodging a written submission through the Department of Social Services engagement webpage.

Homelessness is a key issue faced by veterans and raised at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Any veteran who finds themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness is encouraged to contact DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) or Open Arms on 1800 011 046 who will help them to access appropriate support.

For a list of Homelessness Support Services visit: www.dva.gov.au/homelessness-support.

Increases to support payments help address cost of living pressures

Commonwealth Grants

From 20 September 2023, some veterans and their families will receive an increase to their pension payments in line with increases to the cost of living. You don’t have to do anything to receive the increase, it will automatically be applied to your payment.

The first full payment at the new rates of pension will be payday 19 October 2023. The pension paid on payday 21 September 2023 is not affected as it covers pension entitlements for the fortnight to 18 September 2023. The pension for payday 5 October covers entitlements for the period 19 September 2023 to 2 October 2023 and will be paid partly at the old rate and partly at the new rate.

The maximum rate of single service pension will rise by $32.70 to $1,096.70 per fortnight and the maximum rate for couples will increase by $24.70 to $826.70 per fortnight (each).

The Special Rate of Disability Compensation Payment (T&PI payment) will increase by $53.00 to $1,729.20 per fortnight. The Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) rate will increase by $28.60 to $933.20 per fortnight and the 100 per cent General Rate of Disability Compensation Payment will increase by $18.40 to $600.30 per fortnight.

The pension paid to war widow(er)s will increase by $33.80 to $1,116.30 per fortnight (including the energy supplement), while the ceiling rate of the income support supplement will rise to $331.40 per fortnight.

Certain benefits under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) will also increase. The weekly MRCA wholly dependent partner payment will increase by $16.90 to $558.15. This is paid fortnightly ($1116.30).

The indexation factor used to index pensions each March and September can be based on either the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) or Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE). For 20 September 2023, the indexation was driven by PBLCI.

For more information on the new pension rates, call 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372), or visit the DVA website.

Increases to support payments help address cost of living pressures

Commonwealth Grants

The Australian Government addressed cost of living pressures in the 2023-24 Budget by increasing support for those receiving certain payments and by easing pressure on renters.

As announced on 6 September 2023, joint Department of Social Services and Department of Veterans’ Affairs measures will increase the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 15%. This is the largest increase to Rent Assistance in over three decades.

The Australian Government is also increasing the base rate of a range of support payments by $40 per fortnight. The DVA payments being increased are the fortnightly education allowances under the Veterans Children Education Scheme (VCES) and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme (MRCAETS) for those aged 16 or older and for those receiving the double orphan, living away from home, and homeless rates of payment.

Both changes will apply from 20 September 2023. DVA will contact individuals who are affected by this change by mail in the coming weeks.

These changes will assist eligible veterans and families to ease the current cost of living pressures.

For more information visit the Financial Support page on the DVA website.

Joint Media Release - Attorney-General and Minister Keogh
New powers for Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

The Parliament has today passed new laws that will support the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide to complete its important work ahead of its reporting date of 17 June 2024.

The new laws will do this by making it possible for more people to participate in face-to-face private sessions.

Private sessions enable individuals to share their personal experience with a royal commission in a trauma informed and less formal setting than a hearing.

Currently, only a Commissioner can hold a private session. The Royal Commissions Amendment (Private Sessions) Act 2023 will change this by enabling a suitably qualified, experienced and appropriately senior staff member of the Defence and Veteran Suicide Royal Commission to be authorised as an ‘Assistant Commissioner’ to conduct private sessions.

Since it commenced in July 2021, the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has carried out 535 private sessions with another 400 remaining to be done before the Commission reports.

The Albanese Government is committed to supporting the important work of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide and this new power will make it possible for the Royal Commission to conduct all of the registered sessions face-to-face.

These changes will also apply to all future royal commissions.

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24/7 free confidential crisis support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046 or openarms.gov.au.

Safe Zone Support provides anonymous counselling on 1800 142 072.

Defence All-Hours Support Line provides support for ADF personnel on 1800 628 036 or defence.gov.au/health/healthportal.

Defence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608.

Opportunity to help re-design Commonwealth Grants

Commonwealth Grants

The Australian Government is committed to developing a stronger, more diverse and independent community sector.

As part of this commitment, the Department of Social Services (DSS) has been working with partner agencies to consider how the Government can strengthen support for the community sector including ex-service and community organisations.

The DSS has released an Issues Paper seeking public feedback on innovative approaches on the design and administration of grants to the community sector.

This is an important issue for the veteran community. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs administers several grants programs with various objectives from helping to commemorate Australia’s wartime heritage, to supporting organisations deliver services and projects for veterans and their families, and helping students whose parent or grandparent is a veteran.

This is your opportunity to provide the government feedback about the grants process.
The focus areas for consideration in the Issues Paper are:

  • Giving the sector the voice and respect it deserves through a meaningful working partnership.
  • Providing grants that reflect the real cost of delivering quality services.
  • Providing longer grant agreement terms.
  • Ensuring grant funding flows to a greater diversity of Community Service Organisations.
  • Partnering with trusted community organisations with strong local links.

Your feedback is important. It will help inform a package of recommendations for government consideration, on new approaches to grant funding that will support both short and longer-term reform to the operation of grants. Consultation closes on 7 November 2023. To read the paper and make a submission, please visit: https://engage.dss.gov.au/a-stronger-more-diverse-and-independent-community-sector/

And for more information on the grants currently offered through DVA, please visit: www.dva.gov.au/about/overview/consultations-and-grants/grants-and-bursaries/overview-our-grant-programs

DVA values your opinion – tell us what you think about our online services for advocates

You are invited to complete a survey to improve the way in which advocates transact with DVA online. The survey is part of a co-design approach to gain a deep understanding of the ESO Portal system: the people, processes and technology that enable the service.

We want to hear from all representatives who lodge claims and review requests on behalf of veterans and their families, whether you use the ESO Portal now or not. DVA is committed to making it simpler and easier for veterans and families to lodge claims and access services. We value your input in achieving this goal.

The survey will take about 5 minutes to complete and is anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself to be contacted for future co-design activities. DVA will use the data from the survey to improve its online services for advocates when representing veterans and families. The survey closes on Sunday 1 October 2023.

Complete the survey here.

Attached: Information flyer and QR code to access survey link.

Defence Force Ombudsman Information for Advocates

Defence Force Ombudsman

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, within its role of Defence Force Ombudsman (DFO), can receive reports of abuse from current and former Defence members. For this purpose, abuse means serious abuse, including sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or serious bullying and harassment.

Information on the regulations governing this assessment can be found here.

Previously the DFO had a limited power to recommend that Defence make reparation payments to those who have reported incidents of serious abuse, where the abuse occurred prior to 30 June 2014.
These included reports of serious abuse made to the DFO either:

  • on or before 30 June 2022, or
  • on or before 30 June 2023 where a written intent to report abuse was lodged with our office on or before 30 June 2022.

All reports received after 30 June 2023 are not eligible to be assessed for a reparation payment, and the DFO has no power to recommend a reparation payment for these reports. This deadline is legislated and the DFO does not have discretion to change this date.

For all reports made, the options available to the DFO include referring a person to counselling with Open Arms or if a report is found to be serious abuse within the DFO’s jurisdiction, facilitating their participation in Restorative Engagement conference. Restorative Engagement is a facilitated meeting where a reportee can tell their personal story of abuse to a senior member of Defence. The conference also provides the opportunity for Defence to acknowledge and respond to the reportee’s personal story of abuse, which can include a formal apology on behalf of Defence. For more information see Restorative Engagement Program.

When making an assessment, the DFO is only able to assess the act of abuse, not the impact the abuse has had on the individual. Therefore, psychologist/medical reports are not required when submitting a report of abuse to the DFO.

For more information about the DFO, and for a copy of our reporting form, visit our website: Reporting abuse | Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Statement from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs - Veterans’ MATES program - UPDATE

Veterans' MATES program

The Veterans’ MATES program has been operating for more than 18 years to provide a valuable proactive service addressing ‘real life’ health care problems in the veteran community. Specifically, the program seeks to positively change veteran medicine usage, and increase the uptake of complementary DVA funded health services, all to support veteran wellbeing and a reduction in adverse medicine events.

The University of South Australia is contracted by DVA to deliver the Veterans’ MATES program on DVA’s behalf.

The program takes an evidence based, targeted approach, using a team of clinical experts to develop current health and medicine information, using secure and private billing data to identify members of the veteran community who would benefit from receiving this information.

Identified data is only used to determine veterans who are at risk of medicine related problems, and facilitate DVA writing to the veteran and their doctor to bring them together to have a positive conversation that is tailored to the veteran’s specific health care needs. All other data used in the program is de‑identified.

DVA takes privacy very seriously, and we would like to assure veterans and families that DVA and the University of South Australia have strict policies in place including relevant research ethics approval processes to ensure the appropriate protection of personal information, and that ethics approval remains in place, guiding the delivery of the program.

Since the program’s inception, the Veterans’ MATES program has reached more than 300,000 veterans. Each year approximately 77,000 veterans receive health educational material from Veterans’ MATES, specific to their health care needs. Veterans report they find the information useful, and that it empowers them to take an active role in their own health. This targeted and timely information and support for veterans, and their healthcare teams, has achieved many positive health outcomes across a range of health issues affecting the veteran community. Evidence shows that adverse medicine events have been reduced and that veteran access to suitable health services has increased.

We would like to reassure veterans and families that there has not been a breach of their data, and there is no systemic data security issue. The recent determination by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) relates to an individual case in 2017 whereby the individual opted out of participation in the program and DVA did not fully implement this request. DVA has unequivocally apologised for this.

Veterans have always had the ability to opt out of the program, however DVA has taken steps to more prominently communicate this, so veterans can make an informed decision about their participation.

The OAIC determination has highlighted that DVA’s notices to veterans could include more information about how their billing information would be used for the purpose of the Veterans’ MATES program. More information about privacy, and the ability of veterans to opt-out of the Veterans’ MATES program has been added to DVA’s website and Veterans’ MATES program materials.

The Secretary has requested a review of the Veterans’ MATES program to ensure that all requests to opt out of the program have been actioned appropriately, and to provide further assurance of compliance with the opt out provisions under the program. As part of this review, DVA has temporarily suspended provision of further data while it ensures individual requests regarding participation are dealt with, and frameworks are in place to ensure the circumstances addressed by the OAIC in its determination do not reoccur. DVA will complete this process as quickly as possible.

DVA will continue to engage with the OAIC openly and in good faith, as it looks to improve its processes.

More information about the MATES program and the use of personal information can be found at Veterans' MATES | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au) and https://www.veteransmates.net.au

Veteran Transition Strategy

Veteran Transition Strategy

The Veteran Transition Strategy, the first of its kind, was released by the Australian Government on 22 August 2023.

The Strategy is a joint initiative between Defence, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC)—agency partners in the Joint Transition Authority (JTA).

The Strategy aims to align transition stakeholders with a shared vision for what it means for a veteran and their family to transition well.

The Strategy has six priorities:

  • Veterans and their families plan and prepare early for their transition;
  • Veterans and families are aware of and able to access support appropriate to their needs;
  • Families are engaged through transition;
  • Veterans and families have access to employment, education and skills opportunities;
  • Financial wellbeing for veterans and families; and
  • Veterans and families feel supported and recognised.

The priorities outlined in the Strategy were developed following extensive consultation with serving ADF members, veterans, families, ex-service organisations, Commonwealth and state and territory government agencies, academia and industry.

The development of an Action Plan to support transitioning veterans and families, and spanning across Whole of Government, is underway.

DVA, Defence and CSC are all critical partners in supporting the effective transition of ADF members and families to a predominantly civilian life. Together, we are working to improve the transition experience through the sharing of data, addressing gaps in services, integrating existing services, and influencing new services as they are developed. To this end, a dedicated Transition Branch has been established to drive these efforts within DVA.

Transitioning members are able to access DVA’s broad service offer, based on their eligibility and circumstances. Veteran Support Officers deliver support and advice about DVA benefits and services, including MyService and lodging of claims, in a consistent manner tailored to the needs of the individual. Veterans and families can also use MyService to do their business online. For further information, visit www.dva.gov.au or call 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

Media Release - Minister Keogh - Better supporting veterans transition to civilian life

Today the Australian Government has released the nation’s first Veteran Transition Strategy to better support veterans’ and their families transition to civilian life.

The Strategy represents a joint initiative between Defence, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Matt Keogh MP, said the Veteran Transition Strategy sets out the priority areas of work for improving the transition process for Defence members.

“I’m determined to ensure the Government delivers the services and supports our Defence personnel, veterans and their families need and deserve,” Minister Keogh said.
“Transitioning from military to civilian life is a significant event, it is critical we provide support to those who have given so much to our nation.
The Veteran Transition Strategy is a major step forward to establishing a more connected transition ecosystem, prioritising the individual needs of each veteran and their families.”

The six priority areas are:

  • Australian Defence Force members, veterans and their families plan and prepare early for their transition.
  • Australian Defence Force members, veterans and their families are aware of and able to access support appropriate to their needs.
  • Families engaged through transition.
  • Veterans and families have access to employment, education and skills opportunities.
  • Financial literacy for veterans and families.
  • Veterans and families feel supported and recognised.

“We understand that veterans’ experiences differ and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to transition,” the Minister said.

Building on the vision outlined in the Strategy, initiatives have already been put in place to improve the services and supports available to veterans on transition. These include:

  • The skills recognition program which translates military training to civilian qualifications. This means ADF personnel are better recognised for the skills, training and experience they gain in service, in the civilian workplace.
  • Improved, individualised support for personnel transitioning.
  • Amendments to Defence Housing rules to allow members to occupy a rent allowance property before they leave the ADF to help them get established in the community they wish to live.
  • Allowances for transitioning ADF members to attend civilian GP appointments to support the handover of any medical care needs from Defence Health to the GP who will manage their health care after transition.
  • Out-of-hours transition coaching to better support families, to be piloted later this year.
  • Expansion of some transition services to be available throughout an ADF member’s career.

The Strategy and related action plans will evolve as needed, particularly in response to the findings and recommendations in the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s final report, due in mid-2024.

Free financial literacy workshops

A message from UCare Gawler & Veterans Financial Wellbeing

Free financial literacy workshops are available online for veterans, transitioning Australian Defence Force members and families. The workshops are also free for ex-service organisation volunteers and wellness advocates.

The next workshop will take place online via Teams on Thursday 21 September from 1.00pm to 3.00pm (South Australian time). Book via Eventbrite.

The My Money Basics program is run by UCare Gawler in South Australia and sponsored by Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand. Veterans Financial Wellbeing is funded by the Ecstra Foundation.

The objective is to help participants live within their income, plan for the future, reduce stress and enjoy life more.

‘With rising interest rates, rising utility costs, and rising cost of living, increasing rents and mortgage repayments there has never been a better time to ensure that we have the knowledge and skill set to keep on top of our finances and avoid financial pitfalls,’ says UCare Gawler financial counsellor Alan Murray.

You can take part online from anywhere in Australia. However, if you live in the Adelaide region and would prefer a face-to-face workshop, get in touch with UCare Gawler via the email address below. Date and location by arrangement.

Email: veteransfinancialwellbeing.ucg@ucaregawler.org.au.

SCAMS ALERT - Loyalty Programs

Scam Alert - Loyalty Programs

If you belong to a loyalty points program, you may be the target of a new scam.

The National Anti-Scam Centre has warned about a text/email-based scam focusing on Qantas Frequent Flyer, Telstra and Coles loyalty programs.

For more details, as well as tips to protect yourself from scams, visit - scamwatch.gov.au

Scooby-Doo has nothing on these clever hounds!

Veteran and Assistance Dog with Prime Minister, the Minister and Assistant Minister of Veterans' Affairs

Our Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program (the Program) has reached a significant milestone, over the last 12 months we’ve doubled the number of dogs registered in the Program who have been paired with their veteran.

Reaching this milestone during International Assistance Dog Week, made it even more fur-bulous.

To raise awareness of the contributions of service dogs to the veteran community, an event was held at Australian Parliament House during International Assistance Dog Week. The event was attended by veteran handlers and their service dogs, who were supported by Integra Service Dogs Australia.

Parliamentary staff including the Prime Minister, the Minister and Assistant Minister of Veterans Affairs, took the opportunity to chat with veterans and meet their service dogs. We hope someone packed them a lint roller, those dogs are hairy (but cute)!

Each dog in the Program goes through years of training, to perform tasks specific to manage their individual veteran’s condition to best support their clinical recovery.

Feedback received has been extremely positive with veterans advising the Program has proven beneficial for their quality of life, relationships with their family, and an overall improvement with their mental and social health.

It’s heart-warming to see so many dogs exceeding their reputation as not only a human’s best friend, but an important part of a veteran’s treatment program for their wellbeing.

For more information about DVA’s Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program, visit the Department of Veterans' Affairs website (dva.gov.au)

Statement from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs - Veterans’ MATES program

Veterans' MATES program

The Veterans’ MATES program has been operating for more than 18 years to provide a valuable proactive service addressing ‘real life’ health care problems in the veteran community. Specifically, the program seeks to positively change veteran medicine usage, and increase the uptake of complementary DVA funded health services, all to support veteran wellbeing and a reduction in adverse medicine events.

The University of South Australia is contracted by DVA to deliver the Veterans’ MATES program on DVA’s behalf.

The program takes an evidence based, targeted approach, using a team of clinical experts to develop current health and medicine information, using secure and private billing data to identify members of the veteran community who would benefit from receiving this information.

Identified data is only used to determine veterans who are at risk of medicine related problems, writing to the veteran and their doctor to bring them together to have a positive conversation that is tailored to the veteran’s specific health care needs. All other data used in the program is de-identified.

DVA takes privacy very seriously, and we would like to assure veterans and families that DVA and the University of South Australia have strict policies in place to ensure the appropriate protection of personal information, and that ethics approval remains in place, guiding the delivery of the program.

The Secretary has requested a review of the MATES program to ensure that all requests to opt out of the program have been actioned appropriately, and to provide further assurance of compliance with the opt out provisions under the program.

DVA is engaging with the OAIC openly and in good faith, as it looks to improve its processes.

More information about the MATES program and the use of personal information can be found at Veterans' MATES | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au) and https://www.veteransmates.net.au

Homelessness services – where to access support

While many people who serve in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) have positive experiences transitioning to civilian life, some are faced with different challenges such as maintaining employment, financial stress, and experiences with mental ill-health. Unfortunately, when you couple these challenges with the complicated nature of service in the ADF and individual circumstances, some veterans experience homelessness.

The Australian Government is committed to supporting veterans who are homeless, or at-risk of homelessness, to have access to the services and supports they and their families need. We encourage veterans and families to contact us to find out what support you may be able to access through DVA and/or other organisations.

For further information regarding services available through DVA, please click here

Applications for Veterans’ Health Week event funding now open

Veteran Health Week

Applications are now open for ex-service and community organisations to apply for funding to host a Veterans’ Health Week (VHW) event.

This year, VHW has been set for 8-15 October 2023 with the theme Mental Wellness Matters, shining a spotlight on the importance of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our veterans and families.

Event organisers are encouraged to consider how they can help support the mental health of the veterans and families in their community this VHW by hosting an event around the theme.

Download the VHW kit bag to help plan and deliver your event. The kit bag includes a brochure information and event ideas, a poster to promote your event, social media tiles, and presentations to share at your event.

If you’re hosting an event, make sure to use the hashtag #VeteransHealthWeek2023 so we can see and share your activities. Get your application in by 8 September 2023.

For more information, including how to apply for funding and register your event, visit the Veterans’ Health Week webpage.

Vietnam50 national commemorative service: 18 August 2023

On 18 August 2023, Australians will come together to recognise all those who served in the Vietnam War at a commemorative service at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial, Anzac Parade in Canberra.

The Vietnam War was the longest 20th Century conflict in which Australians participated, it involved some 60,000 personnel, sadly 523 tragically lost their lives and more than 3,000 were wounded.

General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK CVO MC (Retd), joins DVA to acknowledge and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War:

An invitation to remember the Vietnam War

This is an opportunity for Australians to thank our Vietnam veterans for their service, their families and recognise those who did not return.

Tickets are available for this key event to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Tickets are free and can be obtained at dva.gov.au/vietnam50.

National Commemorative Service | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au)

For those unable to attend in person, the service will be broadcast live on ABC television.

Have your say on the Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

We want to hear from members of the veteran community to inform the Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, currently in joint development with the Department of Defence. The Strategy aims to capture mental health needs at all life stages of current and ex-serving military members, from recruitment to separation, transition, and through to civilian life post-service.

To ensure the Strategy meets the diverse needs of the veterans and families, we need the views of those in the veteran community that will be supported by the Strategy. It is an opportunity for you to have a say in what matters to you and help ensure the Strategy reflects the needs, priorities and aspirations of the veteran community.

Have your say and complete the survey online today.

Taking part in the survey is voluntary. DVA does not find out who has, or has not participated. The survey will be conducted with the highest levels of privacy and security. Any information you share will be anonymous and de-identified.

The survey will be open until 11.59pm Monday 28 August 2023.

More information about the strategy is available on the DVA website

Acute Support Package Expanded for Grandparents

The Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package (ASP) was expanded in Parliament to better support veterans and families. The Australian Government recognises the crucial role families play in supporting veterans, including grandparent carers.

The expansion ensures support is available to the children of veterans in the full time care of their grandparents.

The expansion of eligibility to grandparents of all ages, recognises the importance of ensuring that children of veterans under the care of their grandparents have access to support, if they need it to manage new and challenging life circumstances.

The ASP commenced in October 2022, and was initially available to working age veteran families and widowed partners. It is designed to support families who are experiencing new and challenging life circumstances that mean the family unit needs support to get back on track.

These families will now have access to services including childcare, counselling for adults and children, household assistance, transport, and wellbeing, academic and extra-curricular support for children.

The expanded eligibility came into effect from 1 July 2023. Full eligibility requirements and further details can be found on the DVA website.

Please direct any questions to 1800 VETERAN or generalenquiries@dva.gov.au thank you.

Advocate Advice – Why have I received a request for information which I believe is not required, and what should I do?

Reducing our claims backlog is perhaps the most pressing priority for DVA right now. The on-boarding and training of new staff is essential to this. During the financial year 22/23, Client Benefits Division (CBD) delivered face-to-face, five-day induction training to 667 new staff. The five-day induction is delivered to all new CBD staff and ensures they are job ready with an understanding of DVA, service delivery, and compensation claims. CBD front loaded the training program to cover the shared material first before trainees branch off into their specialities. This initiative is building our new delegates' processing capability and further enhancing our ability to address the backlog.

Delegates are advised to request as much information as possible in the very first instance to assist in the processing of claims. Sometimes, due to inexperience, delegates may send out requests for information which may not be required. When this happens Advocates are encouraged to contact the Department to discuss options before requesting the completion of forms by Medical Practitioners.

How do I contact the Department to discuss options?

  • If the Advocate/ ESO is aware of the delegate’s phone number, it is preferable to contact them directly using the 10 digit number.
  • If the Advocate/ ESO doesn’t have the delegate’s phone number, they can call 1800 VETERAN and when asked for the utterances, mention ESO Access Line which will then prompt then with a “Do you want to speak to someone from the ESO Support Team”
  • Further options are available on the Contact Us page of the DVA web site.

Thoracolumbar Spondylosis

“The RMA has developed a new SOP for Thoracolumbar Spondylosis, replacing the existing Lumbar and Thoracic Spondylosis SOPs on 23/3/2023. Does this mean veterans with Lumbar Spondylosis and or Thoracic Spondylosis are now considered to have Thoracolumbar Spondylosis as the accepted condition or that only thoracolumbar spondylosis can now be accepted?”

There is no need to change or adjust existing accepted conditions. The RMA amalgamated two existing SOPs for lumbar spondylosis and thoracic spondylosis into a single SOP, covering both conditions. It is not uncommon for a SOP to be able to cover multiple types of diagnoses or multiple presentations or forms of distinct conditions.

Claims for lumbar spondylosis and thoracic spondylosis may still be accepted, by applying the Thoracolumbar SOP. These will still exist as distinct conditions when only the lumbar or thoracic region of the spine is affected. If lumbar spondylosis spreads as a worsening condition to the thoracic region (or vice-versa) then the condition may be accepted as thoracolumbar spondylosis as it affects both regions as a single condition. However if the condition emerges in two separate regions and affects only those regions, with different dates of onset, and/or different causation then the conditions may still be accepted as distinct stand-alone diagnoses of lumbar and thoracic spondylosis respectively.

The SOP itself makes clear in certain factors that the SOP can apply to presentations of the condition that are lumbar or thoracic spondyloses only, for instance factor 6 in the Thoracolumbar BOP SOP is a factor that applies only to lumbar spondylosis:

… for lumbar spondylosis only, having leg length inequality for at least the 5 years before the clinical onset of thoracolumbar spondylosis

Further guidance is available in the SOP Information pages in CLIK.

DVA offers guidance on reporting suspected scams

Have you ever been contacted by a scammer and been unsure where to go for help and support? A new ‘Avoiding and reporting a suspected scam’ information resource explains what a scam is, how to identify potential scams, tips to protect yourself, who to contact if you’re concerned, and how to report a scam.

Read the full story on the DVA website.

ATDP Advocacy Newsletter – update on accessing information DVA holds

The Interim Report by the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, which was handed down on 11 August 2022, contained a number of recommendations for immediate action. Recommendations 9 to applied to DVA and the Department of Defence. They focused on improving the way information is released, and on the development of educational material and support available to ADF members, veterans and family members when requesting access to information held by each department.

On 31 March this year, in response to Recommendations 9 to 13, DVA and Defence published new resources to assist veterans, families and their representatives to access information held by DVA and Defence. This includes access to both personal and corporate information.

The new material was developed through a co-design process, in conjunction with serving members, veterans, families and representatives. It resulted in significant improvements to the look and feel of the web content on information access. The information is located under “Accessing Information” on both DVA’s and Defence’s Websites.

The aim of the new content is to make the process of accessing information clearer and easier. We have uploaded new guidelines which can be referred to, if you are looking for more detailed information on our processes.

While we aim to provide all the information we can as part of a request, there may be some information that we can’t release. To assist in understanding why,  we have included new information on redactions.

When information is requested by a third party that contains a veteran’s personal information, we can only release it if we have the consent of the veteran themselves, unless the information is lawfully requested such as in a subpoena. This means that it is important that veterans regularly update their consent for the disclosure of their information, particularly after changes in circumstances, such as a marriage, divorce etc. That way, information about the veteran can be released to the person(s) of their choosing. Advocates can offer a valuable reminder to veterans to update their consent and support them during the process if required. 

As part of our focus on making the process of accessing information easier, DVA has stood up an Information Access Unit as a single point of access for people needing assistance with information requests and updating consent to disclose information. Requests can be made directly to information.access@dva.gov.au or by phoning 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

Defence has also stood up their own Information Access Unit which process requests for personal information which Defence hold. They can be contacted directly on information.access@defence.gov.au or by phoning 1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362).

We appreciate your support of veterans and families, and look forward to hearing from you.

DVA help for veterans and families experiencing family and domestic violence

DVA help

DVA is here to help if you or a family member experiences family and domestic violence. Our new family and domestic violence help webpage provides information about the various support services available for those experiencing, or who have experienced, family and domestic violence.

Some of the support services DVA can provide to veterans and families include counselling, short-term accommodation and payments.

Family and domestic violence is any action that is violent, threatening, manipulating or controlling, or that causes a family or household member to feel scared. It can be abuse that is physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological. For more information on family and domestic violence visit the family and domestic violence help webpage.

If you need immediate counselling or someone to talk to, you can call Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

If you or someone else is in danger call triple zero (000).

Changes to how you access MyService

DVA help

Support for access to MyService via Internet Explorer will cease from 3 June 2023, impacting DVA clients. This change means MyService will no longer operate if clients attempt to access the platform using an Internet Explorer browser.

Clients who currently use Internet Explorer will need to switch to an alternative browser.  There are many available– some of the more common ones are Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Firefox, Mozilla, and Opera.

Microsoft Edge is the official replacement for Internet Explorer.

You must switch to a different browser to continue to access MyService, but there is no obligation to use Edge. You can use an alternative browser if you prefer. All are free to download from the internet – just search for them and follow the instructions to download the most recent version.

It is important to keep up to date with upgrades and improvements to the software you use to maintain protection against security vulnerabilities.

MyService can also be accessed from your mobile device, and is now directly linked through the new myGov app.

If you continue to experience issues with accessing MyService once you have switched browsers, please try restarting your browser, and if the problem is not resolved you can contact 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) for guidance.

Better access to information for ADF personnel and veterans

adf

For further information, refer to the DVA Website at:

https://www.dva.gov.au/newsroom/latest-news-veterans

On 4 April, the Government announced that it has implemented a further five recommendations from the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide Interim Report.

Changes have been made to improve access to information and personnel records held by Defence and DVA, providing serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), veterans and families a more streamlined experience when seeking access to records.

This includes the establishment of Information Access Units within the two departments, additional education material on information-access processes, how and why redactions occur, and updates to both departments’ websites.

The Information Access Units will serve as a single point of contact within each department for information requests. The units are already working closely together to facilitate requests quickly and seamlessly.

Veterans’ Covenant available for RFSU members

RFSU

For further information, refer to the DVA Website at:

https://www.dva.gov.au/newsroom/latest-news-veterans

Current and former serving members of a Regional Force Surveillance Unit (RFSU) are encouraged to apply for the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, DVA’s service recognition and support program.

Our vision is to honour veterans, and empower them and their families to continue life after service within a society that understands and values their military service and their ongoing contribution to the community. We do this through enabling self-sufficiency post-service, recognition of service and respect within the community, and maintaining veterans’ health in body and mind.

A Lapel Pin, Oath and Veteran Card are items issued under the Covenant. The specific items issued depend on the applicant’s type of service. You are eligible for all Covenant items, following one day of continuous full-time service in a RFSU or if you have engaged in Disaster Relief or Border Protection Service, or have been involved in a serious service-related training accident.

Veterans to be commemorated in communities across Australia

communities

Almost 150 community organisations have been successful in receiving grant funding under the Saluting Their Service grants' final round of the 2022-23 program.

Saluting Their Service provides funding for projects which support commemoration of the service of Australian veterans and Defence personnel. It aims to ensure that Australia’s wartime heritage is preserved and the sacrifice of those who have served during wars, conflicts and peace operations is remembered.

A variety of organisations including ex-service associations, community groups and schools will receive funding in this round, sharing in over $2 million.

For further information, refer to the DVA Website at:

https://www.dva.gov.au/newsroom/latest-news-veterans/veterans-be-commemorated-communities-across-australia

Time to update the CV or gain support for the next interview?

The Support for Employment (SFE) Program provides eligible veterans with up to 10 hours of one-on-one support across a range of pre-employment and post-employment services.
The program can assist  by building their job-seeking skills, helping them adjust to employment in the civilian workforce or when they might be considering a career change.

SFE is available to veterans who transitioned from the permanent Australian Defence Force (ADF) between one and five years ago.

Veterans can access services including help with interview skills, personal branding and marketing, mapping of transferrable skills and experience to civilian roles, developing career goals and assistance adjusting to, and understanding, the civilian workplace. This one-on-one targeted support means outcomes are personalised and directly relevant to the veteran and their needs.

Each veteran who participates in SFE is allocated a professionally qualified consultant, who works for independent providers, contracted to DVA for these services. 
You may know someone who is  actively job seeking, wanting to update their résumé or discuss career or study options.  Don’t let them miss  this opportunity! Accessing the SFE program is easy.

Interested?

Log into MyService account via myGov. If  eligible, a Support For Employment tile will appear on the home page of the veteran’s account. Click on this tile to start enrolment in the program. If a tile does not appear, and you believe you, or the veteran, are eligible, email SFE@dva.gov.au.

Alcohol and other drug services for veterans

drug services for veterans

Do you have a patient who served in the Australian Defence Force and may need support managing alcohol and/or substance abuse?

Veteran Gold and White Card holders can access the following services for treatment for alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse disorders:

For further information, refer to DVA Website at: https://www.dva.gov.au/providers/provider-news/alcohol-and-other-drug-services-veterans

Veteran homelessness resources for community housing organisations

chronic health conditions

A range of resources for community housing providers tailored to the needs of veterans experiencing homelessness was launched last month in a joint initiative by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA).

The resources provide an overview of the veteran experience of homelessness, including:

  • risk and protective factors
  • service needs
  • available referral pathways
  • how to tailor support for veterans and families.

For further information, refer to the DVA Website at:

https://www.dva.gov.au/providers/provider-news/veteran-homelessness-resources-community-housing-organisations

Supporting veterans with chronic health conditions

chronic health conditions

DVA’s Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) Program is designed to support eligible veterans diagnosed with one or more chronic health conditions to better manage their ongoing health care needs. Veterans may be eligible for the CVC Program if they are either a Gold Card holder and have one or more chronic health conditions, or a White Card holder with a chronic DVA-accepted mental health condition.

The CVC Program encourages veterans to play an active role in managing their health and wellbeing. For people with chronic health conditions, the CVC Program provides support in managing complex care needs and can help to reduce the risk of unplanned hospitalisation.

For further information about the CVC Program, refer to the DVA Website at: 

https://www.dva.gov.au/newsroom/latest-news-veterans/supporting-veterans-chronic-health-conditions

More than $3.5 million awarded in community grants

community grants

For a full list of successful grant recipients, refer to www.grants.gov.au.

The recipients of the 2022-23 Veteran Wellbeing Grants (VWG) program have today been announced, with 57 organisations around the country set to receive their share of the $3.552 million in funding.

The VWG program is designed to provide funding to ex-service organisations and the community organisations they support to deliver projects and activities that enhance the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families within Australia.

Some of the new initiatives that have received funding this year include a photography exhibition that will conduct a national tour, Mindful Based Stress Reduction training, fitness classes and community connection programs plus many more.

DVA is excited to see the new and exciting ways organisations continue to support the health and wellbeing of the veteran community, and look forward to seeing the end results of the activities and programs.

Budget 2023-24 investments to support veterans and families

Budget 23-24

The Australian Government is investing an additional $328.1 million over four years to support the more than 340,000 veterans and dependants accessing services through DVA. This builds on the $537.5 million invested in the October 2022 Budget as part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a better future for veterans and families.

The 2023-24 Federal Budget makes significant investments that will further reduce the veteran compensation claims backlog.

For further information about the 2023-24 Federal Budget, refer to the DVA website at: https://www.dva.gov.au/newsroom/latest-news-veterans/budget-2023-24-investments-support-veterans-and-families

Consultation on DVA legislation reform goes digital

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is inviting community members to participate in online webinars as the public consultation on a pathway to simplify veteran compensation and rehabilitation legislation continues.

The webinars will provide an opportunity to learn more about the proposed future model for veteran legislation from experts in the Department, ask questions and provide your feedback.

We have a number of webinars, tailored to specific veteran interest groups.

  • General veteran community webinar, 6:30 – 7:30pm AEST Wednesday 26 April 2023
  • Current serving member webinar, 6:30 – 7:30pm AEST Thursday 27 April 2023
  • Advocate webinar, 6:30 – 7:30pm AEST Tuesday 2 May 2023
  • General veteran community webinar, 6:30 – 7:30pm AEST Thursday 4 May 2023.

You can register to attend a webinar through an online form on the DVA website.

The consultation process, and information gathered from these webinars, will inform the way forward for the Government to simplify veterans’ legislation.

More information on the proposed Pathway, and the opportunity to provide feedback, can be found on the Veterans’ Legislation Reform Consultation Pathway page of the DVA website.

Written submissions will close soon on 12 May 2023.

DVA Services and Support

This playlist is dedicated to providing information about the Department of Veterans' Affairs and the services and support we provide to Australia's veteran and defence community.

DVA TV banner

There are a number of Information and “How to” videos on DVA TV about DVA Services and Support. 

The videos include:

  • How to link, register and use MyService
  • How to submit a DVA Claim online
  • NLHC
  • DVA Transition Support
  • And much more

For access to the service, please click here: DVA TV - YouTube

The new DRCA Permanent Impairment Guide

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has approved a new standalone legislative instrument that provides for the Guide to the Assessment of the Degree of Permanent Impairment 2023 (DRCA PI Guide) under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) (see: F2023L00364).

This new Guide does not affect veterans’ compensation entitlement outcomes.  It has been made to ensure claims for permanent impairment (PI) and non-economic loss (NEL) under the DRCA can continue to be assessed without any changes for veterans.

The DRCA PI Guide commenced on 1 April 2023 and applies to PI and NEL claims received on or after then.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and Comcare previously relied on the legislative instrument that provided the Guide to the Assessment of the Degree of Permanent Impairment – Edition 2.1 (Comcare PI Guide) made under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act).  The Comcare PI Guide was used to asses PI and NEL claims, with Comcare relying on Part 1 and DVA relying on Part 2. The Comcare PI Guide was due to sunset (expire) on 1 April 2023 and has not been remade.

Comcare have made their own new instrument under the SRC Act to replace Part 1 only of their Guide.

The DRCA PI Guide has been made by DVA to replace Part 2 of the Comcare PI Guide, with no substantive changes and the inclusion of:

  • new introductory material, adapted from Part 1 of the PI Guide for the DRCA context
  • some minor cosmetic changes, including numbering of paragraphs
  • corrections to typographical errors
  • improvements to the principles of assessment, including new content to provide guidance on survival of claims

Please see the Explanatory Statement accompanying the DRCA PI Guide for further information.

For further information on DVA’s website about the DRCA PI Guide, please visit Our guides to assess compensation.

More detailed policy is available on DVA’s Consolidated Library of Information and Knowledge, please see Chapter 5 DRCA PI Handbook – the Approved Guide.

Suicide Awareness Training for Veteran Advocates

It is a sad fact that suicide within the ex-service community is more prevalent than the general population. Many suicides in the community can be prevented through suicide awareness education and activities.

Veteran advocates are in a unique position to support people who might be at risk of self-harm or suicide. When an ex-service man or woman is in contact with other members of the ex-service community, it provides them with a network of support that can help to protect them against suicide. 

If you’re engaging with someone who seems to be feeling hopeless, or is expressing suicidal thoughts, there are things you can do to help. 

Open Arms offers a variety of free training opportunities that can equip you with the knowledge to reduce the risk of suicide, and protect those at risk. They equip participants with the skills to recognise the warning signs for suicide, and learn intervention strategies to help family, friends, co-workers or others in the veteran community. 

Suicide intervention workshops are delivered around the country. You can visit  https://www.openarms.gov.au/get-support/treatment-programs-and-workshops/suicide-intervention-and-mental-health-literacy-workshops to find one appropriate for you, or call Open Arms on 1800 011 046.

For immediate help when life may be in danger, call 000.

New toolkit to improve understanding for veteran homelessness

Phoenix logo

The Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Thistlethwaite today joined with representatives from the community housing industry sector, government and the veteran community to launch a range of veteran-specific community housing resources for providers.

DVA partnered with the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) to develop the resources, which provide an overview of the veteran experience of homelessness, including risk and protective factors for homelessness, service needs and available referral pathways, and how to tailor support for veterans and families.

A key component of the resources is a toolkit containing factsheets and training materials to better equip community housing providers to take into consideration the unique life experience and challenges that veterans face.

An industry standard of providing housing services to veterans has also been introduced to the sector as part of the launch.

As the peak industry body representing 170 not-for-profit community housing providers in Australia, CHIA’s knowledge and connection to providers across Australia will ensure that these resources are up to date, relevant and linked with the industry.

The veteran homelessness toolkit further progresses the Albanese Government’s commitment to address veteran homelessness. The Government is establishing the $10.0 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, which will provide a sustainable funding source to increase housing supply and improve service delivery. The Housing Australia Future Fund includes $30.0 million to build housing and fund specialist services for veterans who are experiencing homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness.

Veterans who are struggling with their living situation or are at risk of homelessness are encouraged to contact DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) or Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046 who will work with them to access the most appropriate care.

To download a copy of the toolkit, visit the CHIA website. For more information, visit the homelessness support webpage on the DVA website.

Have your say in remake of DRCA Permanent Impairment Guide

Part 2 of the current Guide to the Assessment of the Degree of Permanent Impairment – Edition 2.1 applies to the assessment of Defence-related compensation claims for permanent impairment and non-economic loss made under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related claims) Act 1988 (DRCA). 

It is due to expire on 1 April 2023, and needs to be re-made before that date so that compensation claims can continue to be assessed and determined under the DRCA.

DVA proposes to re-make Part 2 of the current Guide as a new standalone Guide to the Assessment of the Degree of Permanent Impairment.

DVA is not proposing any substantive changes in this re-make, which is effectively reproducing Part 2 of the current Guide.  This re-make is not intended to affect any veterans’ compensation entitlement outcomes. The re-make does include some minor cosmetic changes, including numbering of paragraphs and corrections to typographical errors.

The Government is presently considering a pathway to broader simplification and harmonisation of veterans’ entitlements legislation, as part of its response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s Interim Report.  In light of this, it is considered timely to do a simple re-make of the current Guide at this time, noting the policy and legislation supporting assessment of permanent impairment may be considered in the future as part of this work. 

We have prepared an information document and a draft of the new DVA Guide to assist stakeholders to understand the proposed re-make and provide feedback.

Consultation documents

Can be found here Have your say in remake of DRCA Permanent Impairment Guide | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au)

Key dates

  • Consultation open: 6 February 2023
  • Consultation closes: 20 February 2023

Making a submission

DVA invites relevant stakeholders to provide feedback about the new DVA Guide via email DVAGuide@dva.gov.au

Phoenix Australia - DVA Practitioner Support Service

Phoenix logo

The DVA Practitioner Support Service is a free, nation-wide service, funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to provide expert multidisciplinary support and guidance to health practitioners, support organisations and others working with Australian veterans with mental health problems.

Free consultations are available to all Australian practitioners and organisations with queries about veteran mental health. The DVA Practitioner Support Service involves the Health Professionals Advice Line, GP Advice Line and the General Advice Line.

Ex-service organisations (ESOs) are eligible to receive free advice/consultation from Phoenix Australia on trauma related mental health concerns.

No query is too simple or too complex, and mental health does not need to be the primary focus of your work with a client. We have a multidisciplinary team of expert consultants in veteran and military mental health who can respond to your enquiry. We will use the information you provide to direct your enquiry to the most appropriate team member to ensure that their expertise is matched to your needs.

Call 1800 VET 777 between 9:00am and 4:00pm (AEST) or visit https://www.phoenixaustralia.org/treatment-and-support/dva-practitioner-support-service to learn more about the service or make an enquiry.

Attached: DVA General Advice Line information flyer.

Supporting veterans to downsize their homes

A wooden model of a house and a set of keys

The Australian Government is making some changes to make it easier for veterans and their partners who receive income support payments to sell and buy a principal home.

From 1 January 2023 onwards new rules apply when veterans and their partners sell their principal home and use the proceeds to buy a new one. For eligible veterans and war widows, the proceeds from the sale of their principal home will be exempt from assets testing for up to 24 months, to allow more time to purchase or build a new home.  Additionally the proceeds from the sale will be deemed to be earning income at the lower rate of 0.25 per cent.

The changes will make it easier for veterans and families to downsize their homes by reducing the impact of selling and buying on their income support payment rates.

For more information visit the Summary of pension rates, limits and allowances page on the DVA website.

Increase to Totally and Permanently Incapacitated payments

An older lady sits in a wooden chair next to an older man in a wheelchair.

The Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) veterans’ payment is increasing by $1000 per year from 1 January 2023.

This increase to the TPI payment ensures veterans who are severely impacted by their Australian Defence Force (ADF) service are supported, and is paid to severely disabled veterans who are unable to have a normal working life because of a permanent incapacity resulting from their war or Defence service.

The Australian Government has committed $97.9m in funding over four years to increase the TPI payment to $1617.16 per fortnight (including the Energy Supplement); an increase of $38.46 per fortnight.  The increased amount will appear in veterans’ bank accounts from 12 January 2023 (partly at the old rate and partly at the new rate as the 12 January 2023 payday is for the period 28 December 2022 to 10 January 2023). The first full payment at the new rate will be on 25 January 2023.

The Australian Government is committed to delivering a package of practical support measures that will improve the welfare of veterans and their families, now and into the future. The increase will provide additional financial support to TPI, Totally and Temporarily Incapacitated (TTI) and Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP) veterans and their families who are already in receipt of the payment, and for veterans who become eligible in the future.

For more information about the TPI payment visit Special and Intermediate rates | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au)

Workforce Incentive

An older man in business attire sits at a desk while typing on a laptop computer.

The Workforce Incentive measure will encourage and support people who receive income support payments to re-enter the workforce or to increase the number of hours they work. The changes will benefit veterans and their partners who receive service pension, income support supplement or age pension from DVA and have their payments reduced to nil because they exceed the relevant income limit.

Under the new rules, if a person’s income becomes less than the income limit within two years, they won’t have to submit a full application to have their payments reinstated, and can resume receiving their pension more easily. Eligible veterans and their partners will also be able to keep their Pensioner Concession Card for two years.

The Workforce Incentive changes will take effect from 1 January 2023, and will apply to eligible people whose income support payment was reduced to nil with effect from 9 October 2022 or after.

Participating in work improves the quality of life for veterans, not only by getting a higher income, but through keeping mentally active, developing stronger social connections and remaining physically fit. Additionally, businesses will benefit from the skills and experience of older Australians, particularly to help meet the current labour and skills shortages in Australia.

The Australian Government values the contribution that all senior Australians have made, and continue to make, to our economic and social wellbeing, and will support those veterans and pensioners who wish to contribute to the workforce.
If a veterans’ employment status or other circumstances change, DVA need to be informed by:

  • ringing us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372)
  • using MyService
  • visiting any of our offices
  • writing to us at GPO BOX 9998 BRISBANE QLD 4001

For more information about Workforce Incentive, call DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

2022 Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Awards

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The 2022 Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Awards were held in Canberra on November 24 and were a huge success. The Awards recognised and celebrated employers who have supported and employed veterans and partners, and the individual contribution of veterans and partners who are succeeding in the civilian workforce and as entrepreneurs.

The event was attended by the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh, as well as other parliamentarians, business representatives and members of the veteran and ADF community.  The Awards highlighted the many inspiring stories of veterans and partners who are achieving great things in the civilian workforce, showcasing the depth and diversity in this cohort.

We know defence service provides individuals with highly employable skills and attributes, making them valuable assets to the civilian workforce.  This was reaffirmed in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s latest report on the ex-serving population, which confirms most veterans have a successful transition to new employment, and is further supported by the most recent data release from the 2021 Census.  However, the transition to civilian employment can be challenging, and the recent reports remind us some veterans remain at risk of unemployment or underemployment. 

Employment providers, ex-service organisations, and employers reaffirmed this issue at the two Veterans’ Employment Roundtables held in August this year by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, in the lead up to the Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit,   where it was noted that even those who move into successful civilian careers may face challenges.  The need for  a positive narrative regarding veterans and partner employment was heard.

The Awards assist in sharing this positive message - to celebrate new employment initiatives, hear from individuals using their military experiences to thrive in the civilian workforce, and see how veteran and partner entrepreneurs are using their vast skillsets to succeed.

If you know of a veteran or partner employee going above or beyond; a veteran or partner entrepreneur succeeding in business or an employer who recognises the value of supporting veterans and partners, encourage them to nominate for 2023.  Connect with the Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Program LinkedIn profile, or go to www.veteransemployment.gov.au for more details.

Family and Domestic Violence (FDV)

It’s not just physical violence.  Be aware and stay informed to help end family and domestic violence.

Whilst we often associate family and domestic violence with physical abuse, domestic violence can present in repetitive patterns of behaviour which are emotionally debilitating for the victim-survivor and just as abusive. The aftermath of such behaviour can be traumatic and lead to low self –worth and a ‘shut-down’ from loved ones, friends and family.  In the spotlight, are three types of non-physical forms of family and domestic violence.

1. Coercive control

Coercive control is often demonstrated by the perpetrator using a pattern of controlling or manipulating behaviour that leaves the victim feeling intimidated, isolated or controlled. Some of the behaviours victims may experience  include: manipulation and deceit, possessiveness of time and attention, control over what they eat, financial control or being denied freedom of movement.

2. Technology abuse

Technology abuse is an extension of coercion or harassment. Threats made over the phone or via text, abuse over social media, someone taking over your social media accounts or tracking your location via a smart device are just some forms of tech abuse. These behaviours are a crime and should be reported to the police.

3. Financial abuse

Financial abuse can happen when a family member or partner prevents someone from having freedom over their financial decision-making, or uses their money without their consent. This includes being forced into giving up control over DVA payments, money withdrawn from accounts or loans taken up in the victim’s name without their willing consent

As an Advocate, being aware of the social environment is important to assist you in recognising signs to family and domestic violence.

What can I do?

The first step is awareness. Understand and identify the different types of family and domestic violence. Second, know there is support for people to stop their behaviour and help for people experiencing violence, including children and elders.

Training

There are a range of training programs available to help you understand your role in stopping family and domestic violence. Further information, including training and how to find a local service, can be found on the 1800RESPECT website https://www.1800respect.org.au/

Remember:

LOOK - for the signs of the different types of family and domestic violence. 

LISTEN - respectfully and understand that everyone’s experience is individual.

REFER - to Triple zero (000) in an emergency or 24/7 support service such as 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), MensLine Australia (1300 789 978) or Open Arms (1800 011 046).

Your own personal safety is important. Where there is any real or perceived danger/threat to life, including your own, please call triple zero – 000 immediately, and ask for assistance.

An update on the Building Excellence in Support and Training grants for 2023-24

The Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) grant round opened on 17 January 2023 and closes on 23 February 2023. The total funding available for 2023-24 is $4.551 million and will be distributed among eligible ESOs providing compensation and wellbeing advocacy.

BEST grants provide a contribution to the salary expenses of organisations providing compensation advocacy, as well as a contribution towards administrative and equipment expenses of organisations proving wellbeing and/or compensation advocacy. BEST is an important part of DVA’s support for Ex-Service organisations that deliver services that respond to the needs of veterans and their families.

BEST Service Standards

To continue to support eligible Ex-Service organisations and veterans, service standards were introduced in the 2022-23 financial year and are detailed in the BEST grant opportunity guidelines. BEST recipients are required to commit to these standards to ensure the veteran community receives high quality support.

Key principles underpinning the standards include:

  •  Responsiveness of claims advocacy services.
    • The veteran and their family is able to access claims advocacy quickly and that the advocacy process and timeframes are transparent. This principle includes keeping veterans informed, providing assistance in a timely manner and making an initial assessment of the wellbeing needs of the veteran and their family.
  • Reliability & Accuracy of Claims Advocacy Services.
    • The veteran and their family receives a high standard of claims advocacy advice and assistance to access services and support from DVA. This principle ensures advocates are suitably trained, claims are of a high standard and submitted electronically.
  • Ease of Access to Claims Advocacy Services and Safety of Access.
    • Claims advocacy is accessible to veterans and their families and safe for them and the ESO advocate. This principle ensures access to an advocate regardless of the veteran’s location, that the veteran and advocate are physically and mentally safe and the ESO sets and communicates expectations of the advocacy role.
  • Management of Claims Advocacy Services.
    • ESO claims advocacy services are managed efficiently and effectively and veterans and their families are supported by well managed ESOs who are continuing to learn and improve. This principle ensures ESOs maintain appropriate record keeping, have professional indemnity insurance, continue professional development and manage their own feedback systems.

Consistent Reporting of ESO Workload

The BEST grants are distributed by way of a formula that is based on the compensation and wellbeing advocacy workload of each ESO.  The formula outcomes rely on workload being reported consistently by all applicants, this leads to accuracy in the calculation of the formula and the distribution of funding is based on workload.

To support ESO understanding of workload reporting DVA has provided more information in the guidelines and the application form asking applicants to report the number of claims regardless of the number of conditions in that claim. The formula is designed so that more complex claims are awarded a higher weighting within the formula. The formula has been developed to provide funding for all organisations in a fair and transparent manner that is applied consistently each year.

Supporting qualified Advocates

Advocates must be ATDP qualified to have their workload counted in the formula. In the 2020-21 funding round Advocates were advised that from January 2022 VITA insurance is only available for ATDP qualified advocates. Advocates that are not qualified are not covered for professional indemnity insurance and ineligible to have their workload counted towards BEST funding.

Advocates who are ATDP qualified will have their workload counted and advocates who are under training will have their workload attributed to their mentor. This ensures advocates who are submitting the work are insured, and recognises the important role mentors play in developing the skills of new advocates.

Other training to support advocacy

Other nationally accredited training that is related to providing advocacy services can be included this year as an eligible activity for BEST funding. Examples of this training might include first aid training, counselling courses, software courses or office administration courses.

BEST Formula updates

There have been some changes to the BEST formula weightings for specific work types in 2022-23. This is the first time the weightings have changed since 2017-18 and ensures the formula remains fit for purpose.

The changes include:

  • The weighting for MRCA primary claims has increased from 3 to 4 points to reflect the complexity of these claim types that often include multiple conditions.
  • The weighting for Multi-Act claims has increased from 4 points to 5 points to reflect the complexity of these claim types that often include multiple conditions.
  • The weighting of applications for Service Pensions has been removed as a compensation advocacy activity. Assistance with applications for a pension does not need to be completed by a compensation advocate. Assistance for service pensions should be counted toward the hours attributed to wellbeing advocacy.

Further information can be found here

Provisional Access to Medical Treatment (PAMT) for veterans

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Under the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment (PAMT) program, veterans who are waiting for their claim to be assessed can receive DVA funded medical and allied health treatment for one or more of the 20 most commonly accepted conditions without delay.

Ensuring veterans have access to treatment earlier can make a huge impact on recovery. It also prevents their conditions worsening.

How do veterans access PAMT?

To access the PAMT program, veterans need to submit their claim for one or more of the listed conditions before 30 June 2024. They will be able to access treatment under the program until 31 December 2024, or their claim is determined, whichever occurs first.

Upon making a claim, veterans will receive a letter from DVA informing them of the program. They will also receive a Treatment Confirmation Form, for their medical practitioner to complete and return to DVA.

Who is eligible for PAMT?

PAMT is open to eligible claimants who have submitted a claim for one or more of the 20 specified conditions under either the:

Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA)

Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

Claims must be submitted between 18 June 2017 and the program end date. To see the program end date or to find more information about eligibility, go to PAMT Program for Veterans.

What are the 20 specified conditions?

PAMT enables access to treatment for the following 20 most commonly accepted conditions:

  • achilles tendinopathy and bursitis
  • chondromalacia patella
  • cut, stab, abrasion and laceration
  • dislocation
  • fracture
  • internal derangement of the knee
  • intervertebral disc prolapse
  • joint instability
  • labral tear
  • lumbar spondylosis
  • non-melanotic malignant neoplasm of the skin
  • osteoarthritis
  • plantar fasciitis
  • rotator cuff syndrome
  • sensorineural hearing loss
  • shin splints
  • solar keratosis
  • sprain and strain
  • thoracic spondylosis
  • tinnitus

What treatment will be covered?

Treatments will be subject to the Treatment Principles under the MRCA and the DRCA. If treatments exceed the limits of the Treatment Principles then prior approval from DVA will be required.

Further information

For more information, visit the DVA website: PAMT Program for Veterans

Changes to Work Bonus Bank

The Australian Government is committed to delivering a package of practical support measures that will improve the welfare of veterans and their families, now and into the future.

From 1 December, veterans and their partners who are eligible for the Work Bonus will get a once only top up of $4,000 to their Work Bonus Bank balance. This means veterans and their partners will be able to earn more income from employment before their pension is affected.

To be eligible for the Work Bonus from DVA, you must receive Income Support Supplement or Service Pension and be 60 years of age, or receive Age Pension. You are not eligible for Work Bonus if you are getting the transitional rate of pension.

On 1 January 2024, the maximum Work Bonus Bank balance reverts to $7,800. If at this time, the Work Bonus Bank balance is over $7,800, it will revert back $7,800.

More information on the Work Bonus can be found on the DVA website at Work bonus | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au)

Important changes to some DVA correspondence

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The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) recently changed the way veterans and DVA clients receive some letters. The change gives clients a better and more accessible experience when using online services.

Veterans and clients who have a MyService account have started receiving a number of letters, including letters advising of decisions and outcomes of claims, digitally in their myGov inbox.

The delivery of letters through myGov is safe and secure. To ensure veterans do not miss any correspondence, they also receive a notification via text message or email alerting them to new items in their myGov inbox. They can access their myGov inbox via any device, meaning it is accessible any time they have access to the internet.

If the DVA client has a MyService account and does not wish to receive letters through the myGov inbox, they can change their preference in MyService to ensure they continue to receive a hard copy in the mail. They can simply look for the ‘Correspondence’ button on the MyService homepage.

If the veteran does not have a MyService account, these changes will not affect them.

If you or any of the veterans you advocate for need any help or advice regarding these changes, please call us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) or visit your local Veteran Access Network office.

To register for a MyService account, go to www.dva.gov.au/myservice

If you or the veteran are experiencing issues with your myGov account, please call Services Australia on 132 307.

Access to the Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package

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Legislation has recently passed in Parliament to enable the Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package. This package expands the existing Family Support Package to provide more practical services and flexibility for families.

Requirements for veterans to have warlike service or be participating in rehabilitation will be removed. Eligibility will be expanded to working age families of veterans eligible for certain payments under all three Acts, who are at risk of or are in crisis. Working age widowed partners of veterans whose death was related to service, including suicide, under all three Acts will also now be eligible. This eligibility expansion allows veteran families to access important support when they need it most.

Support for widowed partners will be improved by allowing them to access support for two years from the date of acceptance into the program, rather than the date of death of the veteran.

Financial limits for each service category of childcare, counselling and household services will be replaced with an overall yearly cap, providing families with greater flexibility. Additionally, a range of new practical supports will be available to help families build independence and resilience including but not limited to financial literacy, mental health first aid, academic and wellbeing support for children, resilience development and counselling.

Access to the Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package commences 14 October 2022.

For more information, including eligibility requirements, visit https://www.dva.gov.au/financial-support/support-families/defence-veterans-and-families-acute-support-package

Veteran Payment – Who is eligible?

Did you know that veterans who have submitted a claim for a mental health condition under either the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) may be eligible for the Veteran Payment.

The Veteran Payment is a short-term payment made available for eligible veterans if:

  • They are unable to work more than eight hours a week, and
  • Their income and assets are under means testing limits, and
  • They are below the pension age

If the veteran is a member of a couple, the partner may also be eligible for the Veteran Payment.

The Veteran Payment is accessible while a veteran’s mental health claim is being assessed and will continue until an outcome is determined. If the claim is approved, they will move to the relevant payment or benefit. If the mental health claim is not approved, the Veteran Payment will continue for 42 days after they have been notified of an outcome. This can be extended in special circumstances. They will then need to apply for an appropriate Services Australia income support payment if required. DVA can assist with this process.   

Applying for the Veteran Payment is easy and should be done at the same time as you are assisting the veteran to submit their claim for a mental health condition. If the claim is being submitted online via MyService, the question will ask if the veteran wishes to apply for the Veteran Payment during the completion of the online form. If you are completing a paper form on behalf of the veteran, you will be directed to complete a D9333 Veteran Payment Details form.

For further questions about eligibility for the Veteran Payment, visit  https://www.dva.gov.au/financial-support/income-support/support-when-you-cannot-work/veteran-payment-overview

Improvements to Incapacity claims in MyService

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Incapacity annual reviews and change of circumstances are now in MyService

MyService continues to improve and expand, making it easier for veterans to do their DVA business online.  If veterans receive an Incapacity Payment or are applying for it, some new features in MyService will make it simpler for them.

MyService already enables veterans to submit a claim for Incapacity Payment. Information and supporting documents required to prepare their claim are explained in greater detail and they will have the option to let us know if they’d like to receive interim payments as part of the new improvements.

When they’ve submitted their claim, MyService will display a claim ID and claim status against the claim.  This feature only applies if the Incapacity claim has been submitted using MyService after the new features are introduced.

New features are also coming to allow veterans to upload supporting documents for their incapacity claim after the claim has been submitted, and they’ll be able to advise us online of any changes to their circumstances that may affect their claim.

What if the veteran started their claim before these new features were released?

If veterans started and saved their claim before these new features were released, their claim will still appear on their Claims page in MyService with an “Incomplete” status.  Veterans can resume their claim as usual to complete and submit.

Veterans may notice changes to some of the questions in their claim so we recommend that they review the responses they’ve provided just as they would before these new features became available.  Veterans will need to respond to any remaining questions in order to finalise and submit their claim.

 

Incapacity Payments annual review of circumstances

If veterans receive an Incapacity Payment and they have a MyService account, they can now complete their Annual Review of Circumstances online using MyService.  Completing the review online gives the veteran greater flexibility to provide us with more information, it’s faster, and the veteran will always have a record of their review in MyService.

When the veteran’s review date is approaching, if they have a MyService account we’ll send them a notification in their myGov inbox 28 days before their review is due to be completed.

When the veteran signs in to MyService, the task panel on their home page will indicate that they have a task to be completed.  If they happen to forget to complete their review, we’ll send a reminder notification in the veteran’s myGov inbox 7 days before the task due date.

If veterans receive a notification from us and they’d prefer to complete their review manually, they can download the form D1352 Annual Review of circumstances from the DVA website or call DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) and we can post you one.  When the veteran has completed the form, they can send it to us by post or email using the addresses on the form.

If a veteran doesn’t have a MyService account, we’ll still send their Annual Review of Circumstances form in the post or email.

If veterans need help with their claim or annual review, they can call us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) and ask for “Incapacity Payments”. 

Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant / Veteran Recognition

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The Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant encourages Australians to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service and to support veterans and their families. The Oath, Veteran Card and Lapel Pin underpin the Covenant and provide further recognition and easier identification of veterans.

Read it here

To speak with someone at DVA, call 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372)


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