National Veterans’ Affairs Committee (NVAC – National)
The RSL Australia National Veterans’ Affairs Committee (NVAC) is the forum where the key policy issues in the veterans’ affairs space at the national level are discussed by representatives of the RSL and its State Bodies.
NVAC is tasked with monitoring, reviewing, and making recommendations to the RSL Australia Board regarding areas where the RSL can make representations to Government and other stakeholders to achieve beneficial changes in public policies or service provision.
Once these recommendations are made, the RSL can raise these matters to the Federal Government, through forums such as the Ex-Services Organisation Round Table (ESORT) and the Operational Working Party. These groups seek to address issues of strategic importance to the ex-service and defence communities and assist in setting directions for the medium to long term.
The NVAC is composed of the following members:
- Dr Robert Webster (Chair)
- Mr David McCann (NSW Delegate)
- Ms Margaret Jenyns (QLD Delegate)
- Mr Jeff Jackson (VIC Delegate)
- Mr Adam “Buzz” Lawson (VIC Delegate)
- Mr Garry Beven (TAS Delegate)
- Mr Bill Hignett (SA Delegate)
- Ms Robyn Steenbach (WA Delegate)
- Mr Phil Winter (CEO RSLA)
- Mr Michael Annett (RSLA Policy Officer)
Activities of the Previous Meetings
At the past meeting of the NVAC on 19 January 2023, the Committee discussed a number of important member and veteran issues. These included:
- An update on NVAC’s efforts to close outstanding Motions from RSL NSW Annual Congresses
- The lack of GPs in the community to service DVA claim
- Issues surrounding indemnity insurance for volunteer advocates, and a discussion of fee-for-service provision of advocacy by non-RSL advocates
- Alignment between the Funeral Benefits under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act 1986 (VEA), the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (DRCA)
- Continuing to pursue Non-Liability Health Care for all Reservists
- The RSL Australia submission to the Senate inquiry into Adaptive Sports for Veterans
Achievements and Impact of NVAC
Some of the recent advocacy activities pursued by the NVAC, in conjunction with RSL NSW and its Veterans Services & Policy Committee, are outlined below:
Harmonisation of veterans’ entitlement legislation
The RSL has been calling for many years for the consolidation of the three Acts governing veterans’ entitlements and legislation into a single piece of legislation to simplify claims for veterans and their families. So the Federal Government’s announcement in February 2023 that it intended to simplify legislation governing Veterans’ compensation, rehabilitation, and other entitlements is a repudiation of the ongoing work of NVAC and those within the RSL advocating for the change. More information on the pathway to reform is available here.
Increase to Veterans’ Home Care funding
The Federal Government has announced an additional $70.6 million in funding over four years to increase Veterans’ Home Care fees for domestic assistance and personal care services. This funding will help to ensure important domestic assistance and personal care support through the Veterans’ Home Care program is delivered to the veteran community. The fee increase will benefit the 37,000 veterans, war widows, and widowers who receive services delivered through the Veterans’ Home Care program. More information on how to access the program can be found here.
Extension to Provisional Access to Medical Treatment (PAMT)
The Federal Government has committed $33 million to extend access to free medical treatment for veterans. The free Provisional Access to Medical Treatment program provides access to medical treatment for 20 of the most commonly claimed conditions to veterans who have lodged a claim with DVA.
The funding will ensure veterans can continue to access medical treatment for their condition while they wait for their claims to be processed, ensuring veterans access treatment sooner than they otherwise might. More information about the program can be found here.
Expanded Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Program (PADP)
This commitment consists of $22 million in funding to provide psychiatric assistance dogs to veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program matches highly trained dogs with veterans diagnosed with PTSD to support them through their clinical recovery.