Veterans’ Policy and Advocacy Update – February 2024

At a glance:

  • Our 2024 policy priorities continue to focus on the areas RSL NSW was advocating for in 2023.
  • RSL NSW will provide members with a full summary of the evidence at the conclusion of the final Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide hearing block in March.
  • The RSL NSW Veteran Services and Policy Committee has identified homelessness, veteran identifiers and concessions as key issues affecting veterans in NSW.
  • Considerable work has been undertaken to progress motions raised at the RSL NSW Congress.

 

It’s been a busy start to the year for RSL NSW in the veterans’ policy space, working with all levels of Government, the RSL nationally, and other ESOs to be a strong voice for veterans and their families.

2024 Policy Priorities

Our 2024 policy priorities continue to focus on the areas RSL NSW was advocating for in 2023. The next 12 months will see the League work to build on its past efforts, advocating for:

  • Implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (final report due in September), including supporting the establishment of a permanent independent National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Wellbeing.
  • Supporting the establishment of a National Peak Body for the veteran support sector.
  • Improving the provision of claims and wellbeing advocacy for veterans, including reform for the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) and Government support for advocates.
  • Increased processing capacity for DVA claims and enhancing interactions with healthcare providers, including a review and uplift of the DVA fee schedule.
  • Improved access to healthcare for veterans and their families.
  • Research on veterans’ homelessness and incarceration.
  • Implementation of the Government’s proposed legislative reforms.
  • Additional support for families of veterans.

The RSL is calling on the Commonwealth Government to use the 2024/25 Budget to strengthen the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families with actions laid out in this Pre-Budget Submission.

Efforts are also continuing to have the Commonwealth Government review the DVA fee schedule for veteran healthcare to significantly increase payments and encourage ongoing engagement between DVA patients and practitioners to improve physical and mental health outcomes for veterans.

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide will conduct its final public hearing in Sydney, from Monday 4 March to Thursday 28 March 2024. For more information, on Hearing Block 12, visit the Royal Commission website.

RSL NSW will have a consistent presence at the hearing, and will provide a full summary of the evidence to members at the conclusion of the Hearing Block via the RSL NSW Royal Commission Office.

RSL NSW Veteran Services and Policy Committee (VSPC)

At the last meeting of the VSPC on 13 February 2024, the Committee discussed policy priorities (including the 2025 Federal Election strategy, DVA fee schedules, and the RSL Federal Pre-Budget Submission) as well as important issues facing NSW veterans. In consultation with the Office of Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) and sub-Branches across the state, RSL NSW is working to address:

  • Homelessness: Veteran homelessness is an ongoing concern that has been identified by the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. RSL NSW is continuing to work with OVA to further research the impact of homelessness on veterans, and to coordinate existing supports to focus on prevention rather than intervention. For veterans who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, our partner charity RSL LifeCare Veteran Services can provide financial assistance, housing support and emergency accommodation.
  • Veteran Identifiers: In consultation with the Department of Health and the Department of Communities and Justice, RSL NSW is working to ensure veterans can be identified upon entry into a hospital or detention facility – and, with the support of local sub-Branch volunteers, access support when required.
  • Concessions: RSL continues to work with OVA to consolidate the offering of concessions available to the veterans in NSW, which currently includes a range of initiatives, rebates and concessions, in comparison to other Australian jurisdictions.

National Veterans’ Affairs Committee

RSL NSW continues to work with sub-Branches to resolve issues raised at the RSL NSW Congress, including lobbying RSL Australia to recommend Private Richard Norden for a Victoria Cross and to establish 11 July as the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) National Commemorative Day.

Thanks to support from the Commonwealth Government, RSL LifeCare is preparing to establish new Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs in Queanbeyan, the Hunter, Tweed, and Hawkesbury regions that will be a one-stop-shop for veterans and their families to access services and support, including being connected to local RSL sub-Branches. Further information on the hubs can be found here.

Register of Motions

There has been considerable work undertaken to progress motions raised at the RSL NSW Congress, and an updated register of motions can be found here. Some of these motions are pending approval to close, while others require ongoing negotiation and planning to work toward the outcome requested.

To stay informed on the Royal Commission, policy updates, motion progress, and RSL submissions, papers and reports, visit the How We Support You section of the RSL NSW Member Portal.

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