RSL NSW Veterans’ Services & Policy Committee
The RSL NSW Veterans Services & Policy Committee (VSPC) is the Committee of the RSL NSW Board that considers the effectiveness of veterans’ advocacy, policy, and services. Specifically, the VSPC is tasked with:
- Monitoring, reviewing, and making recommendations to the Board about the range, extent and effectiveness of the services provided, or to be provided, to veterans and their families by RSL NSW
- Considering, monitoring, and making recommendations to the RSL Board relating to any public policy position that would have significant implications for RSL NSW
- Recommending areas where RSL NSW and the wider RSL organisations can make representations to Government and other stakeholders to achieve beneficial changes in public policies or service provision
The VSPC is composed of the following members:
- David McCann (Chair) (RSL NSW Director)
- Mick Bainbridge (RSL NSW Director and President)
- Charles New (RSL NSW Director)
- Bronte Pollard (Independent Service Member)
- Sarah Watson (RSL NSW Director)
- David Anderson (RSL LifeCare Representative)
- Jonathan Tuckfield (Independent member)
- Rod Bain (Invitee)
- Luke Rix (Independent member)
Activities of the Previous Meetings
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.
Achievements and Impact of the VSPC
Some of the recent advocacy activities pursued by the VSPC, in conjunction the RSL nationally, are outlined below:
- Advocated for an increase in Veterans’ Home Care funding, which subsequently saw the Federal Government announce an additional $70.6 million in funding over four years to increase Veterans’ Home Care fees for domestic assistance and personal care services.
- Lobbied for an extension to the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment (PAMT) program, which provides access to medical treatment for 20 of the most commonly claimed conditions to veterans who have lodged a claim with DVA. The Federal Government recently committed $33 million to extend the program.
- Called for the expansion of the DVA Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Program (PADP), which matches highly-trained dogs with veterans diagnosed with PTSD to support them through their clinical recovery. The Federal Government recently announced an additional $22 million funding to expand the program.
- Working with Defence Reserves Association and Defence Force Welfare Association, the RSL has pushed for all Reservists to be covered by non-liability healthcare provisions.
- Working to secure demand-driven funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
- Resolving outstanding motions from RSL NSW Annual Congresses – progress can be seen here.
- Advocating for alignment in funeral benefits for veterans covered by the Veterans’ Entitlement Act with the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA)
- Advocating for funding and training of additional Compensation and Wellbeing Advocate mentors to improve training and availability of advocates in NSW and across Australia
- Pushed for RSL National to provide support to the Australian Defence Force Retirees’ Association (ADFRA), to help advocate on behalf of veterans covered by the DFRDB
- Veterans can continue to access exclusive telehealth services from allied health providers as a result of the RSL NSW Veteran Services and Policy Committee (VSPC) advocating for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to maintain telehealth-only treatment cycles
The RSL has a proud history of advocating for the health and wellbeing of its members, veterans, and their families. Through the work of RSL NSW President Ray James, the RSL NSW Veterans Services and Policy Committee (VSPC) and collaboration with the RSL nationally and other ESOs, RSL NSW remains a strong and relevant voice for veterans and those in the Defence community.
Ex-Service Organisation Round Table
The Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT) is the main body for consultation between ex-service organisations and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
RSL Australia is a member of ESORT and is committed to sharing information from and to ESORT on issues of importance to the RSL membership, veterans and their families.
Here is a summary of the topics raised at the last meeting: