Veterans’ voices have informed the RSL’s response to the proposed Veteran Entitlements legislation

Media Release RSL Australia

The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) has welcomed the Government’s proposed legislation to simplify veteran entitlements and has consulted across the breadth of the League to ensure members’ voices inform the development of fit-for-purpose legislation that best serves veterans and their families.

National President Greg Melick said the RSL had long called for reform to deliver an improved legislative framework that would better support the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families and ensure they could more easily access benefit entitlements.

The RSL has lodged a detailed submission in response to the Government’s release of the draft Veterans’ Entitlements, Treatment and Support (Simplification and Harmonisation) Bill 2024. The Bill will implement the single model as proposed in the Veterans’ Legislation Reform Consultation Pathway, aimed at simplifying the rehabilitation and compensation claims process.

“Specifically, we have asked the Government to include budgetary measures to strengthen the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) so that veterans and their families can access fee-free high quality advocates who are well-prepared to support them through the claims process before, during and after the transition from the current to new legislation,” Greg Melick said.

“We have also called for continued funding of the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment (PAMT) program to 30 June 2026, extending it beyond the current end date of 30 June 2024 to cover the full transition period.

“The RSL’s response to the proposed legislation is the result of collaboration across the whole of the league and reflects our commitment to ensure that the process and the outcomes of simplifying veteran entitlements legislation are veteran centric.

“At the outset, we support the ‘grandfathering’ of existing benefits intended to ensure that no Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) client will lose existing entitlements.

“While the RSL acknowledges the complexity of drafting the legislation, it is disappointed that the window of opportunity for public review and comment has been just seven weeks across what is a key commemorative period for the defence and veteran community.

“As such, it is inevitable there will be issues that arise that have not been identified during this consultation period. The RSL seeks an assurance from the Government that it will be open to ongoing feedback and that it will be responsive to any issues that are identified, as well as a more formal review of the legislation in three years.

The RSL has also expressed concern at the lack of detail around transitional arrangements and has called on the Government to make provisions in the forthcoming 2024-25 Federal Budget to ensure the proposed legislative changes are clearly communicated in a timely manner, to veterans their families, and those who support them.

“The RSL asks the Australian Government and all members of the Australian Parliament to ensure veterans and their families are at the forefront of their minds as they consider the Bill, and that they put the needs of our ex-servicemen and women and their families first in every decision they make on it.

“The RSL will continue to advocate strongly to ensure the legislation is fit-for-purpose and best meets the current and future needs of our veteran community and that no one is disadvantaged by the changes,” Greg Melick said.

The RSL’s submission can be accessed at: https://www.rslaustralia.org/s/Veterans-Entitlements-Treatment-and-Support-Simplification-and-Harmonisation-Bill-2024.pdf

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