Ex-service organisations repeat call for extension of health care to Defence Reservists

Leading ex-service organisations (ESOs), including the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSLA), have repeated their call for the Federal Government to extend Non-Liability Health Care for all Defence Reservists.

The RSL, with the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) and the Defence Reserves Association (DRA) have made a joint submission to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Hon Matt Keogh, MP seeking his support for the extension of health care to all those serving in the reserve forces.

RSLA President Greg Melick said Non-Liability Health Care should be extended so that all Reservists, on completion of their initial training, become entitled to receive treatment for any mental health conditions.

“The extension of entitlement to Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) to include all Reservists who have completed their enlistment would be an important step in gaining equity across the Defence Forces.

“Extending the health care arrangements requires a simple legislative amendment that aligns with the Government’s legislative reform agenda for veterans’ entitlements.

“The issue affects many in the ex-service community and as well as the three organisations responsible for the submission to Government, it has been endorsed by a number of other ESOs,” Greg Melick said.

In July 2022, the three organisations wrote to the Minister seeking an extension of Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) for Reservists. Following the Minister’s response of November 2022, the three organisations agreed to send a follow-up letter, accompanied by an extensive submission.

Non-liability health care enables eligible veterans to access treatment at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ expense for specified conditions, without needing to establish a link to service. It is separate from any claim for compensation and enables prompt access to mental health treatment, encouraging early intervention to stabilise and treat conditions as they arise, offering the best chance for recovery.

This would effectively extend the existing entitlements and remove the current requirement for veterans to have at least one day of continuous full-time service to qualify for NLHC.

“Those who serve their nation by joining the Australian Defence Force deserve access to a world-class veteran support system that enables them to continue their meaningful contribution to our nation, while providing strong and stable support structures,” Greg Melick said.

“All members who enlisted to support their country should have equal access to important mental health care.”

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