RSL Australia wants disparity in Veteran Funeral Benefits to be removed

The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSLA) has called on the Federal Government to harmonise the funeral benefits payable to service veterans to remove the existing disparity.

Currently, the benefits paid range from just $2000 to $12,600 and the RSL says bringing the payments together is one of the simpler legislative changes the Government could make and could be achieved relatively quickly.

The RSL and the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) have developed a submission to the Government on the reform of funeral benefits’ legislation and it has been endorsed by several other ex-service organisations.

RSLA President Greg Melick said the difference in benefits has been an ongoing issue for veterans and the submission will now be presented to the Minister for Veteran Affairs and Defence Personnel, Hon Matt Keogh MP.

Currently, the maximum funeral payment available to veterans covered under the Veterans Entitlement Act is $2000, while veterans covered by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act and the Defence-Related Claims Act can receive up to $12,600.

Greg Melick said the reform of these funeral benefits was referenced in the RSL’s pre-budget submission to Treasury and would build on the positive work of the Government to begin the process of the reform of veterans’ legislation announced in February 2023.

“The differences between these benefits are difficult to justify,” he said.

“The RSL and DFWA is recommending the Federal Government amend the Veterans Entitlement Act to align its funeral allowance with Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act funeral expenses.

“Doing so would ensure fairness for older veterans and their families and reduce confusion and frustration at a time of great distress in their lives.”

Mr Melick said the issue affects many in the ex-service community and the Government should act to redress the situation as a matter of urgency.

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