In its report, entitled The Constant Battle: Suicide by Veterans, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee observed that the term ‘veteran’ can mean different things to different people. It can mean a person who is taken to have rendered eligible war service under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1988 while the Military and Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 identifies veterans by type of service: warlike service, non-warlike service, peace time service and defence service.
It is important to be very clear about this terminology.
The Ministerial Statement on Veterans and Their Families delivered in August 2017 by the then Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, says:
There are currently around 58,000 Australians serving in our Defence Forces. Some will serve overseas. Others will serve in barracks and bases around the country…. In the Australian community, there are an estimated 320,000 veterans who have been deployed. Many thousands more have not seen service outside of Australia. These men and women have worn their uniforms in both peace time and in conflict.
The Statement concludes that, no matter who they are, all of them are or will become veterans.
In this scoping study, ‘veterans’ includes all past members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and, where appropriate, their families in accordance with the Ministerial Statement.
The Australian Government and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) acknowledge the great dedication shown and invaluable service provided to veterans by ex-service organisations and their advocates over many years.
Now, looking to the future, a number of factors necessitate a reconsideration of the current delivery of advocacy and support services. They include:
- the emerging needs of younger veterans, female veterans and veterans’ families
- the importance of effectively managing transition from the Defence Force, particularly in the case of early medical or administrative termination of service
- an increasing emphasis on rehabilitation and assistance to get a job in the civilian workforce
- the challenges faced by ex-service organisations in attracting younger veterans to replace their declining number of ageing volunteer advocates
- the complexity of the legislation governing – and the wide range of agencies and organisations delivering – veterans’ entitlements and services, and
- the consequent need for advocate training and accreditation to cope with this complexity and flexible options for maintaining the number and location of trained or professional advocates to provide a sustainable, consistent and reliable advocacy service to meet demand.
As a result, the Government and DVA began reassessing the structure and delivery of advocacy and support services several years ago. This comprehensive scoping study, which follows on earlier reports and investigations, was commissioned in response to recommendations made by parliamentary committees and the Veteran Ministers’ Roundtable.
This discussion paper is designed to assist veterans, their families, ex-service organisations and other interested parties to provide information to the scoping study. Organisations and individuals can make a submission on any matter raised in the Terms of Reference.