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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1996  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/1996   
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Contents >> Family >> Family Functioning: War veterans and their carers

Family Functioning: War Veterans and their Carers

In 1995 there were 199,000 Australian war veterans receiving service pensions.

The 50th anniversary of the end of World War II was commemorated in 1995. Consequently, there was much publicity about Australia's war history and the well-being of our current war veterans. Because of their age and life histories, war veterans often have special health, lifestyle and financial needs and many receive income support from government pensions or benefits.

War veterans

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) defines a war veteran as a person who, under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986, has undertaken eligible war service. Under the Act, veterans are entitled to a number of benefits. The service pension, which is income and assets tested, is paid at age 55 for female veterans and at age 60 for male veterans. It is also payable to younger veterans who are permanently incapacitated for work. In addition, war veterans may receive a disability pension, supplementary benefits or assistance (such as a health care card), housing loan subsidies and other housing related benefits.

The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers provides information on older persons (those aged 60 or more) and persons with one or more disabilities as well as the carers of these two groups. War veterans can be identified from this survey only if they have a DVA health care card. For more information see the Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: User Guide (cat. no. 4431.0).


Australian involvement in conflicts this century
Australia's war veteran population is the result of Australian involvement in a number of wars and conflicts. During this century over 1.5 million Australian men and women have served in eight major wars or conflicts. Some of them served in more than one. More than 100,000 people died in action, more than 200,000 were wounded and more than 30,000 were taken prisoners of war (POWs).

The number and proportion of service personnel who died, were wounded or were POWs varied between conflicts. More Australian service personnel were enlisted or engaged in World War II than in any other conflict. 4% died and 7% were wounded. In comparison, 2% died and 7% were wounded in the Korean War and 1% died and 5% were wounded in the Viet Nam War.

AUSTRALIAN INVOLVEMENT IN 20TH CENTURY CONFLICTS(a)

Persons enlisted
Deaths
Wounded
POWs
Conflict
no.
no.
no.
no.

Boer War - 1899-1902
16,463
606
538
100
World War 1 - 1914-18
416,809(b)
61,919
155,000
4,044
World War 11 - 1939-45
993,000
39,366
66,553
30,560
Korean War - 1950-53
17,164
339
1,216
29
Malayan Emergency - 1950-60
7,000(c)
36
20
na
Indonesian Confrontation - 1960-63
3,500(c)
15
9
na
Viet Nam War - 1962-73
50,001
520
2,398
na

(a) Data are not available for the Gulf War of February 1991.
(b) Excludes RAN.
(c) Excludes RAN and RAAF.

Source: Australian War Memorial data archives


Service pensioners
In 1995, 199,000 Australian war veterans received service pensions. Between 1980 and 1987 the number of war veterans who received service pensions increased from 146,000 to 234,000. Subsequently the number declined. This pattern reflects the large numbers of World War II veterans who reached their 60s in the early 1980s and therefore qualified for the service pension. In 1995, the average age of war veterans receiving a disability or service pension was 74 years1, reflecting the fact that although veterans receiving benefits served in a number of different wars, most current veterans (76%) served in World War II.

WAR VETERANS RECEIVING SERVICE PENSIONS


Source: Department of Veterans' Affairs Annual Reports


War veterans with disabilities
In 1993 there were 256,000 war veterans with a Department of Veterans' Affairs health care card identified in the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. 71% of these (181,000 people) had a disabling condition. Of these, 26% reported that their disabling condition was caused by involvement in war. 174,000 war veterans had a physical disorder as their main disabling condition. 25% of these reported that their condition was caused by involvement in war.

In 1993 arthritis was the main physical disorder affecting war veterans. 20% of veterans reported that their arthritis was caused by involvement in war. In contrast, while 32,000 veterans had disorders of the ear and mastoid process, 45% reported that their disorder was caused by involvement in war. Of the 8,000 war veterans whose main disabling condition was a mental disorder, 48% reported that their condition was caused by involvement in war.

WAR VETERANS(a) WITH DISABILITIES, 1993

Number of veterans
Caused by war
Main disabling condition
'000
%

Physical conditions
173.9
24.8
    Arthritis
36.9
20.3*
    Disorders of the ear and mastoid process
32.4
45.1
    Circulatory diseases
26.2
20.2*
    Other physical disorders
78.1
20.2
Mental disorders
7.5*
48.0*
Total
181.4
25.7

(a) Refers only to those veterans with a health care card.

Source: Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (unpublished data)


Veterans needing and receiving domestic help
In 1993, 116,000 veterans with a health care card said they needed help with domestic activities. 85% of them received formal or informal help with such activities. Of these, 71% received help with home maintenance, 39% with transport, 38% with health care and 47% received home help.

In 1993, 78,900 war veterans received informal help for at least one domestic activity and 46,100 received formal help. 63% of veterans receiving informal help received help with home maintenance, 44% received home help and 42% help with transport. Veterans who received formal help were most likely to receive help with home maintenance or health care, both 45%.

The type of informal help received differed according to the main provider. Wives were most likely to provide help around the home; husbands, daughters and daughters-in-law help with transport; and sons, sons-in-law and other providers help with home maintenance.

For all activities except health care, the main source of help for war veterans who had a partner was, not surprisingly, the partner. Help with health care was most commonly formal. War veterans without partners made much greater use of formal help. Those who received informal help received it mainly from their daughters or friends and neighbours.

WAR VETERANS NEEDING AND RECEIVING DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE(a), 1993



(a) Refers to domestic assistance given by main providers only. Veterans may receive more than one type of domestic assistance.

Source: Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (unpublished data)


Endnotes
1 Department of Veterans' Affairs (unpublished data).



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