RSL Welcomes Increased Budget Measures for Veterans. More expected in the Coming Year

Media Release RSL Australia

The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) has welcomed this week’s Budget announcements to support veterans and has thanked the Government for its ongoing commitment to the sector.

The RSL has recognised 2024 as a critical year to reinforce the Australian Government’s regard for, and treatment of our Defence and veteran community and Tuesday’s Budget made positive steps to ensure this enduring commitment to veteran wellbeing. The RSL expects further evidence of this when the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s Final Report is delivered
later in this ‘landmark’ year for veterans.

Positive measures in the Budget specific to the veteran sector include continued funding for the further implementation of the interim recommendations of the Royal Commission into Defence and
Veteran Suicide to simplify veterans’ entitlement legislation and sustain a permanent reduction in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) claims backlog.

Additionally, the RSL has advocated for the extension of the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment (PAMT) and is pleased to see this actioned with a further three years and to increase
access to healthcare for veterans and their families.

The RSL is pleased at these funding inclusions and anticipates that other initiatives outlined in the RSL pre-budget submission will be addressed following the delivery of the Royal Commission Report.

RSL Australia President Greg Melick said these included measures to strengthen the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) or to improve the provision of claims advocacy.

“Strengthening the capability and capacity of advocates to effectively administer DVA Claims is critical in a time where legislation is evolving and there is a pre-determined period to support veterans with optimal outcomes for their individual needs across multiple Acts and requirements, Greg Melick said.

“Advocates are the backbone function of accessing the DVA entitlements and without effective training and oversight, veteran entitlement outcomes will be impacted.

“Our submission requests for a formal review the DVA fee schedule, improving care for veterans when they enter an aged care facility, and the extension of non-liability healthcare (NHLC) for all
reservists and the establishment of an independent National Commissioner to lead implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission and keep a permanent watch on defence and
veteran wellbeing have also been held over.

“Some of these matters are currently being examined by cross-sector DVA-appointed working groups and we will continue to advocate strongly to bring these important initiatives to fruition.”

Greg Melick said the RSL appreciated the demands on the Government’s Budget and welcomed the support provided to improve the health and wellbeing of Australian veterans and their families.

“The measures announced in this Budget are very welcome as has been the Government’s provision of demand-driven funding for DVA, a matter advocated for by the RSL for many years.

“The RSL will be advocating strongly to ensure continued support for veterans and their families prior to the election that will be held by May 2025.

“Almost one in 20 Australian families includes an individual who is currently or has previously served in our Defence Forces. According to the 2021 Census, this totalled more than 580,000
Australians.

“Investing in the health and wellbeing of veterans, Defence personnel and their families is a sound investment for all Australians and the RSL stands ready to work with the Australian Government in better serving those who serve and have served us,” Greg Melick said.

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