The ANZAC House Advocate – How the RSL is working for veterans and their families

The start of the year has seen a flurry of activity in the veterans’ policy space, with the Federal Government making a crucial announcement, the Royal Commission continuing its good work, and the RSL determining its strategic priorities.

Three Acts to become one

In February, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh announced the Federal Government’s intention to simplify legislation governing Veterans’ compensation and rehabilitation into one Act, potentially one of the biggest changes to veterans’ entitlement legislation in many years. The RSL has been calling for many years for the consolidation of the three Acts into a single piece of legislation to simplify claims for veterans and their families, and this announcement provides a potential pathway for that to happen.

While the development should benefit veterans and their families, consultation with the veteran community on the proposed reform should be extensive, collaborative, and continual. The RSL will engage in the reform process to make sure veterans and their families are at the heart of decision making at every step of developing the new single act.

VSPC opens New Year

RSL NSW’s Veterans’ Services & Policy Committee (VSPC) held its first meeting of the year on 7 February, discussing a wide array of veterans’ issues. Focus was placed on RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare’s engagement with the continuing rollout of the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs program, RSL NSW’s network of veterans’ advocates, and a Senate inquiry into adaptive sports for veterans. The VSPC also discussed policy motions from the 2022 RSL NSW Annual Congress and agreed to raise several issues to RSL Australia and various levels of government for consideration.

If you have an issue you believe should be discussed at the VSPC, please contact the Member Support Team on support@rslnsw.org.au or phone 1300 679 775. More information on the committee’s work is available here.

NVAC’s back, alright!

January saw the debut meeting of RSL’s National Veterans Affairs Committee (NVAC) for 2023, with a packed agenda brought forward by RSL State Branch delegates. NVAC discussed significant external policy matters including the Senate Inquiry into Adaptive Sports, the lack of GPs in the community to service DVA claims, and previous submissions to DVA regarding the simplification of claims processing and non-liability healthcare. The committee also discussed fee-for-service advocacy and possible solutions to gathering data and statistics across the RSL, including at the sub-Branch, State Branch, and National levels.

Let’s get fiscal

In early February, RSL NSW welcomed the announcement that the National Cabinet has committed to making health its first priority of work for 2023. The RSL has made a pre-budget submission to The Treasury which proposes action intended to improve access to healthcare for veterans and their families, which in turn could alleviate some of the pressures of the wider healthcare system. The RSL stands ready to support and inform this important work. The pre-budget submission also called for increasing assistance to ATDP-qualified advocates to support their vitally important work among the veteran community.

The full RSL pre-budget submission is available here.

Royal Commission continues

The RSL continues to actively engage with the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. This includes active participation in the Stakeholder Reference Group, community engagement activities through RSL WA ahead of the Perth Hearing Block in May and continuing to make submissions. Additionally, the RSL is lobbying to ensure the implementation of all recommendations of the Royal Commission and the success of the Statutory Implementation Body, making this a pillar of its advocacy during the lead up to the Federal Budget in May.

For more information on the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, visit the Royal Commission website or the page for the RSL NSW Royal Commission Office.

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