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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002   
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Contents >> Income and Welfare >> Services provided by the Department of Veterans' Affairs

The Repatriation Commission determines services provided to veterans. The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) provides the administrative machinery through which the Commission operates. The Commission, comprising three full-time members, has the following functions:

  • granting pensions, allowances and other benefits in accordance with the provisions of Repatriation legislation;
  • arranging the provision of treatment and other services for eligible persons;
  • advising the Minister, and providing the Minister with information on matters relating to Repatriation legislation;
  • performing other functions conferred on the Commission by the Act or other Acts; and
  • administering the Acts subject to the control of the Minister.

Repatriation benefits are provided under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 for service with the Australian Defence Forces in designated conflicts including: World War I, World War II, the Korean War, operations in Malaya/Malaysia as members of the Far East Strategic Reserve, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and for service in various peacekeeping operations including Cyprus, Lebanon, Somalia, Rwanda and Cambodia among many others. Service in the Defence Forces during peacetime from 7 December 1972 to 6 April 1994 (subject to the qualifying period) also attracts some repatriation benefits. Since 6 April 1994 peacetime service is covered through the Military Compensation Scheme under the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

Certain civilians, Australian mariners of World War II (since July 1994) and Australian members of certain designated peacekeeping, observing and monitoring forces who had peacekeeping service overseas may also be eligible for benefits. Under the Papua New Guinea (Members of the Forces Benefits) Act 1957, indigenous inhabitants of Papua New Guinea who served in the Australian forces in World War II, and members of the Royal Papuan Constabulary and New Guinea Police Force who served in that conflict, are eligible for compensation-type benefits.

Members of other Commonwealth countries' forces and other allied veterans are not eligible for compensation-type benefits in respect of their service, unless they were domiciled in Australia immediately before their enlistment. However, they may qualify for an income support payment, the 'service pension', only if they served in a conflict in which Australia was involved prior to 1972.

Qualification for receiving subsidised housing loans, granted under the Defence Service Homes Act, generally depends on service with the Australian Defence Forces in World War I or World War II, or specified service in Korea, Malaya, South East Asia, Namibia, the Middle East for the Kuwaiti crisis, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, or East Timor, and for service in the Regular Defence forces on or after 7 December 1972, provided the person's first service in the forces was before 15 May 1985. Certain civilians may also be eligible.

More detailed information on repatriation allowances, benefits and services is available from DVA .


Compensation Program

The principal objective of the Compensation Program is to ensure that eligible veterans, their war widows and widowers, and their dependants, have access to appropriate compensation and income support in recognition of the effects of war or defence service. Compensation is administered under four sub-programs - the Compensation Sub-Program, the Income Support Sub-Program, the Housing Sub-Program and the Veterans' Review Board.


Compensation Sub-Program

The main benefits provided under this sub-program are the Disability Pension and the War/Defence Widows'/Widowers' Pension and ancillary benefits. Table 7.31 shows the number of pensions at 30 June 2001 and the four preceding years.

The Disability Pension is to compensate persons for incapacity resulting from eligible war, defence or peacekeeping service. General rate disability pensions range from 10% up to and including 100%, depending on the degree of war-caused or defence-caused incapacity. Higher rates of pension (Intermediate Rate and Special Rate) are payable if:
  • there is at least 70% incapacity due to war, defence-caused injury or disease;
  • the veteran is totally and permanently incapacitated from accepted disabilities alone; and
  • the disabilities render him/her incapable of undertaking remunerative work for periods aggregating to more than 20 hours per week for the intermediate rate, or eight hours for the special rate.

An Extreme Disablement Adjustment, equal to 150% of the general rate, is payable to severely disabled veterans who are 65 years of age or over.

The War/Defence Widows'/Widowers' Pension is payable to the widow or widower of a veteran:
  • whose death has been accepted as war-caused or defence-caused;
  • who at the time of his or her death was receiving or entitled to receive a Special Rate of Disability Pension or the Extreme Disablement Adjustment;
  • who had been a prisoner of war; or
  • who at the time of his/her death was receiving a pension which had been increased due to certain amputations and blindness.

The Orphan's Pension is payable to the children of these veterans.

From 1 January 1993, the War Widows'/Widowers' Pension also became available to the widows/widowers of former prisoners of war and the Orphans' Pension to the children of former prisoners of war.


7.31 DISABILITY AND WAR WIDOWS’ PENSIONERS - 30 June

Recipient
1997

no.
1998

no.
1999

no.
2000

no.
2001

no.

Incapacitated veterans
160,145
161,829
162,810
162,730
162,505
Wives and widows(a)
69,858
65,442
60,864
56,596
51,148
Children
4,247
3,752
3,337
3,165
1,690
War widows and widowers(b)
97,522
100,746
104,553
107,953
110,656
Orphans
459
420
414
410
382
Other dependants
812
771
735
683
657
Total
333,043
332,960
332,713
331,537
327,038

(a) Wives of still living veterans and widows of deceased veterans who have not died from an accepted war caused condition.
(b) Widows and widowers of deceased veterans who have died from an accepted war caused condition.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Table 7.32 shows the number of disability pensioners at 30 June 2001 by conflict type. It should be noted that these data are based on the DVA file number prefix. This is generated by the first period of service which gave rise to the veteran's initial claim. However, a disability pensioner may also lodge further claims for disabilities based on other areas of service. The later claims may be based on service earlier or later than the service of the initial claim which generated the file prefix. For example; a Korean War Veteran, with a pension payable in respect of that service, may have subsequently served in Vietnam. However, his file prefix would remain that of a Korean Veteran and he would be included as such in the DVA Pensioner Summary. Likewise a Gulf War veteran may have lodged an initial claim due to other service as a Peacekeeper. He would be recorded only under peacekeeping service in table 7.32.


7.32 DISABILITY PENSIONERS - 30 June 2001

World
War I

no.
World
War II(a)

no.
Seaman's
War
Pension

no.
Korea/
Malaya

no.
FESR(b)

no.
Vietnam

no.
Peacetime
forces

no.
Gulf War(c)

no.
Total

no.

General rate - from 10% to 100%
8
80,825
540
3,880
1,037
10,967
27,857
11
125,125
Intermediate rate
-
451
1
29
3
253
266
-
1,003
Special rate (TPI or equivalent)
-
8,576
17
851
254
10,283
5,063
2
25,046
Extreme Disablement Adjustment
1
10,437
100
489
45
100
159
-
11,331
Total
9
100,289
658
5,249
1,339
21,603
33,345
13
162,505

(a) Includes interim forces.
(b) Far East Strategic Reserve.
(c) A number of veterans of the Gulf War are officially recorded as members of the Defence/Peacekeeping forces.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Table 7.33 shows the number of disability pensions at 30 June 2001 and for the nine preceding years.


7.33 DISABILITY AND WAR WIDOWS’ PENSIONS

Number of disability pensions in force, 30 June

Year
Incapacitated
veterans(a)

no.
Dependants
of incapacitated
veterans(b)

no.
Dependants
of deceased
veterans(c)

no.
Total

no.
Annual
expenditure(d)
to 30 June

$’000

1992
157,790
102,953
81,125
341,868
1,396,192
1993
156,923
96,948
83,642
337,513
1,445,308
1994
156,565
91,722
86,224
334,511
1,508,446
1995
157,298
85,837
90,039
333,174
1,570,136
1996
159,178
80,204
94,473
333,855
1,720,239
1997
160,145
74,405
98,493
333,043
1,819,338
1998
161,829
69,484
101,647
332,960
1,888,416
1999
162,810
64,486
105,417
332,713
2,067,783
2000
162,730
60,011
108,796
331,537
2,099,205
2001
162,505
53,080
111,453
327,038
2,314,052

(a) This is all Disability Pensioners in payment.
(b) This includes Disability Pensioners' spouse/widow(er)s, Disability Pensioners' children and Adequate Means of Support (AMS) incapacitated cases.
(c) This includes war widow(er)s, orphans and AMS deceased cases.
(d) Includes associated allowances.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


The Veterans' Children Education scheme (see tables 7.34 and 7.35) provides financial help, guidance and counselling to certain students up to 25 years of age. To be eligible a student must be the child of a veteran, an Australian mariner, or a member of the Forces, who is (or has been) in receipt of a Special Rate or Extreme Disablement Adjustment Disability Pension. Children of former prisoners of war, of veterans, or of Australian mariners whose death has been accepted as war-caused, are also eligible.

7.34 VETERANS’ CHILDREN EDUCATION SCHEME, Cost of Education Beneficiaries

Year
NSW(a)

$’000
Vic.

$’000
Qld

$’000
SA(b)

$’000
WA

$’000
Tas.

$’000
Aust.

$’000

1991-92
1,475.8
1,068.2
1,201.6
542.5
289.6
358.8
4,936.5
1992-93
1,612.4
1,092.7
1,198.1
310.1
644.8
413.6
5,271.7
1993-94
1,749.3
1,170.2
1,303.8
348.5
771.6
463.5
5,806.9
1994-95
1,905.7
1,163.9
1,601.4
371.7
791.8
491.8
6,326.3
1995-96
2,401.2
1,399.4
1,877.8
432.8
925.4
553.1
7,589.7
1996-97
2,913.7
1,694.8
2,430.4
522.3
1,135.8
620.7
9,317.7
1997-98
3,535.7
2,071.9
3,024.4
685.2
1,442.3
718.8
11,478.3
1998-99
3,969.5
2,420.7
3,609.0
812.4
1,713.6
789.3
13,314.5
1999-00
3,858.3
2,584.8
3,904.2
975.6
1,919.0
788.9
14,030.8
2000-01
4,188.6
3,038.7
4,632.2
1,320.1
2,293.9
883.8
16,357.3

(a) Includes the Australian Capital Territory.
(b) Includes the Northern Territory.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

7.35 VETERANS’ CHILDREN EDUCATION SCHEME, Number Receiving Benefits - At 30 June 2001

Type of training
NSW(a)

no.
Vic.

no.
Qld

no.
SA(b)

no.
WA

no.
Tas.

no.
Aust.

no.

At school -
- Primary(c)
297
167
459
121
191
75
1,310
- Secondary
653
426
649
199
311
131
2,369
- Total
950
593
1,108
320
502
206
3,679
Tertiary professional
266
181
318
71
136
51
1,023
Technical
88
83
120
49
83
23
446
Total
1,304
857
1,546
440
721
280
5,148

(a) Includes the Australian Capital Territory.
(b) Includes the Northern Territory.
(c) Receive an annual payment rather than fortnightly payment like others.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Income Support Sub-Program

The main form of income support paid is the Service Pension. This is an income and assets tested pension similar to the Age Pension paid by Centrelink. The pension is payable to veterans with qualifying service at age 60. Prior to 1 July 1995, the pension was payable to female veterans with qualifying service at age 55. Qualifying service generally means service in an area and at a time when danger from hostile enemy forces was incurred by the veteran. The Government introduced changes to the minimum age at which a female veteran can be granted Service Pension (Age). The minimum age will be lifted from 55 to 60 years in six-monthly increments every two years over the period 1995 to 2013. This means that the qualifying age for Service Pension (Age) at 1 July 2001 is 57 years. Veterans with qualifying service may be paid the pension at any age if they are permanently incapacitated for work.

Veterans of other Commonwealth and allied countries may also qualify for the Service Pension for service during a period of hostilities in wars or war-like conflicts in which Australia has been engaged. Veterans of Commonwealth forces must have served outside the country of enlistment or be entitled to the award of a campaign medal for service within that country. Allied veterans must have service in formally raised forces. The veteran must be an Australian resident with at least ten years residency.

From 1 April 1993, all service pensioners became eligible for 'fringe benefits', provided by the Commonwealth Government, which include some medical and hospital treatment, pharmaceutical benefits and the payment of a telephone allowance.

Income Support Supplement is payable to war widows and war widowers at Service Pension age of 60 for men and currently 57 for women (see Service Pension above). Income Support Supplement is also payable to a war widow or widower under Service Pension age who has a dependent child, or is caring for a severely handicapped person, or is permanently incapacitated for work. Income Support Supplement is subject to income and asset testing and the war widow/ers pension is assessed as income. Its maximum rate is fixed at $124.90 per fortnight.

A number of supplementary benefits are also available. These include:

    • Rent Assistance;
    • Remote Area Allowance;
    • Bereavement Payment; and
    • Pharmaceutical Allowance.

Table 7.36 shows the total number of service pensions as at 30 June 2001, and table 7.37 shows the number of pensions and annual expenditure for the years 1992 to 2001.


7.36 SERVICE PENSIONS, Number by Category - At 30 June 2001

World
War I

no.
World
War II(a)

no.
Korea, Malaya
& FESR(b)

no.
Vietnam

no.
Commonwealth
and Allied

no.
Other

no.
Total

no.

Veterans
Old age/permanently incapacitated
9
108,211
9,400
17, 979
25,919
0
161,518
Tuberculosis(c)
0
121
3
0
2
11
137
Total
9
108,332
9,403
17, 979
25,921
11
161,655
Wives and widows
124
84,456
6,877
13,288
24,288
7
129,040
Total
133
192,788
16,280
31,267
50,209
18
290,695

(a) Includes Merchant Mariners.
(b) Far East Strategic Reserve.
(c) Eligibility on these grounds ceased on 2 November 1978.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

7.37 SERVICE PENSIONERS, Number and Expenditure

Pensions in force, 30 June
Year
Veterans

no.
Wives and widows

no.
Total

no.
Annual expenditure(a)

$’000

1992
215,010
156,603
371,613
2,377,619
1993
210,406
152,742
363,148
2,389,886
1994
204,793
148,184
352,977
2,382,307
1995
198,739
148,974
347,713
2,426,579
1996
192,342
145,481
337,823
2,609,460
1997
186,228
142,520
328,748
2,644,118
1998
179,673
138,906
318,579
2,602,122
1999
172,654
135,904
308,558
2,680,409
2000
165,940
131,136
297,076
2,587,972
2001
161,655
129,040
290,695
2,832,326

(a) Includes associated allowances.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Housing Sub-Program (Defence Service Homes Scheme)

The Defence Service Homes (DSH) Scheme provides financial benefits to recognise the contribution of certain men and women who have served Australia in either peacetime or wartime. The benefits include housing loan interest subsidies, comprehensive homeowners' insurance cover at competitive rates, and home contents insurance (see table 7.38).

The Scheme was established in 1918 as the War Service Homes Scheme. In 1972 its name was changed to the Defence Service Homes Scheme to recognise the extension of eligibility to those with qualifying peacetime service.

The Commonwealth Government sold the DSH mortgage portfolio to Westpac Banking Corporation, which became the Scheme's lender on 19 December 1988. Under the Agreement between the Commonwealth and Westpac, the Commonwealth subsidises Westpac for the low-interest loans provided. The subsidy is paid directly to Westpac and represents the difference between the concessional interest rate paid by the borrower and the agreed benchmark interest rate.

Since 1918, the Defence Service Homes Act has made provision for DSH insurance. Building insurance is available to all persons eligible under the Defence Service Homes Act or the Veterans' Entitlements Act. This benefit is also available to those who obtain assistance under the Defence Home Owner Scheme. DSH contents insurance, a comprehensive insurance package underwritten by QBE Mercantile Mutual Ltd, is available to veterans and the service community.

The maximum loan available under the DSH Scheme is $25,000 repayable over 25 years. The interest rate on new loans is capped at 6.85% for the term of the loan. Loans can be used to buy a home or strata unit, build or extend a home, buy a right of residence in a retirement village, refinance an existing mortgage, repair or modify an existing home, or obtain granny flat accommodation on another person's property.

7.38 DEFENCE SERVICE HOMES SCHEME

Units
1993-94
1994-95
1995-96
1996-97
1997-98
1998-99
1999-00
2000-01

Subsidised loans
Loans granted
no.
7,639
7,171
6,861
6,518
6,380
5,477
4,850
2,182
Interest subsidy
$m
37.5
45.1
53.0
29.2
12.2
17.2
15.4
14.7
Loan accounts at 30 June
no.
107,124
101,887
96,518
91,029
80,802
73,530
69,677
63,468
Building insurance
Homes insured at 30 June
no.
147,853
140,508
137,012
133,711
126,799
123,068
118,430
114,369

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service

The objective of the Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service (MCRS) is to ensure that current and former members of the Australian Defence Force, who suffer an injury or disease which is causally related to employment in the Australian Defence Force, are provided with compensation and rehabilitation benefits and services. The MCRS is responsible for providing benefits through the Safety, Rehabilitation & Compensation Act 1988. Table 7.39 summarises activities under the MCRS for 2000-01.

The Safety, Rehabilitation & Compensation Act provides compensation cover for injury or disease sustained during peacetime service since 4 January 1949 and operational service since 7 April 1994. Once liability has been accepted for an injury, a range of benefits may or may not apply in an individual case. In broad terms:

  • weekly incapacity payments are made on the basis of ongoing evidence of loss of ability to earn at a rate of 100% of pre-injury earning capacity for 45 aggregated weeks less the current ability to earn. After 45 weeks the rate falls to 75% of pre-injury earning capacity if the client cannot work at all, gradually rising back up to 100% if some work is possible. Government funded superannuation entitlements are deducted from the weekly compensation benefits which would otherwise be payable. Different entitlement regimes apply under transitional provisions for certain employees and periods prior to 1 December 1988;
  • permanent impairment payments are assessed in accordance with the approved guide. The minimum threshold is 10% whole of person impairment in most cases, with 100% attracting a maximum current entitlement of $169,459. Other rates and criteria apply for impairments arising under the currency of predecessor legislation prior to 1 December 1988;
  • death benefits are payable to defined dependants of former and current members who die because of injuries arising from Australian Defence Force employment. One payment up to a maximum current lump sum of $184,865 is payable in respect of all eligible dependants. A funeral benefit of $4,267 is also payable. A weekly amount of $61.61 is payable to dependent children of the deceased;
  • additional Defence Act payments are available (with effect from 7 April 1994) to 'top up' payments for death of the deceased as well as permanent impairment payments to those with 'severe injuries'. The severe injury adjustment and additional death benefit increases the lump sum amount payable to $222,138, with an additional $55,535 for each dependent child;
  • medical benefits are payable in respect of the cost of medical treatment which is 'reasonably obtained' in relation to the accepted injury. There is broad definition of medical treatment;
  • rehabilitation services are provided where applicable in the form of programs designed to return injured employees as close by as possible to pre-injury employment, mobility and lifestyle capacity. Programs include return to work retraining, and provision of medical and other aids and appliances as well as alterations to homes and motor vehicles;
  • Household Service and Attendant Care benefits are available at a statutory rate payable to ensure that eligible injured members are able to maintain their household and/or remain in their home; and
  • Appeal and Review mechanisms are available for clients who do not agree with a decision made by MCRS. Rights include access to an internal review followed by application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), with a mandatory conciliation step.

7.39 MILITARY COMPENSATION AND REHABILITATION SERVICE, Activities - 2000-01

Activity
no.

No. of incapacity payees at 30 June 2001 (incl. dependent children)
2,230
New primary injury claims received
6,531
New permanent impairment claims received
4,457
New rehabilitation referrals received
1,025
New reconsideration requests received
1,450
New applications made to the AAT
340
Total accounts paid (incl. medical, household services and attendant care)
75,676


Source: Department of Veterans' Affairs.


Health Program

Health care treatment is provided to people whose disabilities have been accepted by DVA as service-related, and for pulmonary tuberculosis, post traumatic stress disorder and malignant neoplasia whether they are service-related or not. In addition, and subject to certain conditions, health care treatment in Australia is provided to certain veterans of Australia's defence forces for all health conditions. Eligible veterans include: ex-prisoners of war; veterans and mariners of World War II aged 70 years or over who have qualifying service from that conflict; those receiving a disability pension at or above the maximum (100%) general rate; World War II veterans and mariners receiving both Service Pension at any rate and Disability Pension at 50% rate or higher; veterans, mariners or nurses who served in World War I; certain service pensioners; and returned ex-servicewomen of World War II. War widow(er)s and certain other dependants of deceased veterans are also entitled to treatment for all conditions.

Younger veterans from post-World War II conflicts have needs additional to those of their older counterparts. These needs are addressed by a range of services which include integrated out-patient, in-patient and support services for the treatment and rehabilitation of veterans with war-related mental health conditions. Intensive in-patient treatment programs are available in each State. Community-based psychological services are provided by the Vietnam Veterans' Counselling Service and individual providers.

Assistance is available for the Vietnam veteran community through a series of recent initiatives to support veterans and their families in response to the validated findings of the Vietnam Veterans' Health Study. These include mental health support for veterans, their partners and children, assistance with treatment costs for Vietnam veterans' children with spina bifida, cleft lip/palate, adrenal gland cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia, and preventive health programs for veterans. The role of the Australian Centre for Post-traumatic Mental Health has been expanded to address mental health problems affecting the wider veteran community, and funding is being increased for research into veterans' health issues that may be the result of operational service.

Vocational rehabilitation services are available to support those who are leaving the Australian Defence Force, those at risk of losing employment, and those who wish to return to the workplace. Rehabilitation Allowance may be available to people whose pension entitlement is affected - the intention is that no financial loss should be incurred by individuals taking up paid employment. Safety net arrangements enable a return to former pension status in the event that employment cannot be sustained (this applies to pensioners receiving above general rate levels of Disability Pension or Service Pension through invalidity).

With the transfer of the Repatriation General Hospitals to the States, or their sale to the private sector, hospital care is now provided through the Repatriation Private Patient Scheme. The Scheme provides acute hospital care for veterans or war widow(er)s in local facilities. Under the Scheme, a veteran or war widow(er) may be admitted directly to a local public hospital, former repatriation hospital or a contracted private Tier 1 veteran partnering hospital, as a private patient, in a shared ward, with the doctor of his or her choice.

In short, the Repatriation Private Patient Scheme has an order of preference for hospital admissions according to three tiers:

  • Tier 1 - all public hospitals, all former repatriation hospitals and selected veteran partnering private hospitals in some States;
  • Tier 2 - contracted private hospitals; and
  • Tier 3 - non-contracted private hospitals.

Financial responsibility for hospital and medical treatment in a public hospital, a former repatriation hospital or a veteran partnering private hospital is accepted by the department with no cost to the patient. Should a veteran require hospital care, the treating doctor would be able to arrange treatment at an appropriate local facility.

On a State by State basis the Repatriation Commission sought tenders from private hospitals to be selected as veteran partnering hospitals, which allows the same access as public hospitals and former repatriation hospitals (i.e. where no prior financial authorisation is required for admission, once eligibility is established). These hospitals have been selected by the Department because they are conveniently located for most veterans, offer a full range of services at competitive rates, and perform consistently to industry-approved standards.

Under arrangements with State Governments, entitled persons requiring custodial psychiatric care for a service-related disability are treated at departmental expense in State psychiatric hospitals.

Entitled persons may also be provided with dental treatment through the Local Dental Officer Scheme, which comprised 6,900 local dental officers at 1 June 2000.

Optometrical services, including the provision of spectacles, the services of allied health professionals, and a comprehensive range of aids, appliances and dressings, may be provided to entitled persons.

In addition, entitled persons may be provided with pharmaceuticals through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Through the Repatriation Transport Scheme entitled persons are eligible to receive transport assistance when travelling to receive approved medical treatment.

DVA also assists the veteran community through the Veteran and Community Grants Scheme, which aims to maintain and improve the independence and quality of life of members of the veteran and ex-service community through activities and/or services that sustain and/or enhance wellbeing. The grants focus on the delivery of funding through in-home, community and residential support streams. Veteran and Community Grants provide funding for projects that address the needs of members of the veteran and ex-service communities through a range of support initiatives. These may be through:

  • promotion of health issues and healthy lifestyles;
  • supporting quality independent living at home;
  • support for carers;
  • reducing social isolation; and
  • provision of financial support for high quality residential care for members of the veteran community, including support for community aged care packages.

Veteran and Community Grants are intended to provide assistance to encourage the development of projects that will become financially viable and self-sufficient. Grant funds are not provided for recurrent or ongoing financial assistance. There are three funding rounds each financial year: in July, October and March.

Following a major review of the delivery of its health services in 1999, the Department has placed considerable emphasis on health promotion activities. Its five-year strategic plan targets seven key health priorities. As part of its health promotion activities, the Department also produces a range of health promotion resource materials for the veteran community.

In January 2001, DVA introduced the Veterans’ Home Care program. This program extends the range of services provided to the veteran community to include personal care, domestic assistance, home and garden maintenance and respite care. Other services, such as delivered meals, are provided under arrangements with State and Territory Governments. Veterans' Home Care services are available to eligible veterans and war widow(er)s who are assessed as needing care to remain in their homes.

Between January and 30 June 2001, a total of 19,912 veterans and war widow(er)s were assessed for Veterans’ Home Care services. Some 80% of assessments resulted in an approval for one service, 16% for two services and 1% for three services. Some 3% of assessments did not result in an approval for services as veterans may have been referred to other services, such as community nursing or the DVA program, HomeFront. The service most frequently approved was domestic assistance (53%), followed by home and garden maintenance (28%), respite care (16%) and personal care (3%).

Veterans' Home Care has a strong preventive focus, and particularly targets veterans and war widow(er)s with low-level care needs. It is anticipated that net savings will be made from the initiative due to better health outcomes for veterans, reducing avoidable illness, injury and associated health costs. Better health will mean that veterans spend less time in hospital and need fewer medications and other high cost services. More importantly, they will be able to lead fuller, more active lives.


Vietnam Veterans' Counselling Service (VVCS)

The VVCS provides counselling to veterans of all conflicts and their families, as well as working with the ex-service community to promote understanding and acceptance of veterans' problems.

The VVCS is staffed by psychologists and social workers who have specialised knowledge about military service, particularly in Vietnam, and its impact on veterans and their families, especially the impact of post-traumatic stress.

Access to counselling services for rural veterans and their families was greatly improved with the establishment of the Country Outreach Program in 1988, followed soon after by a toll-free 1800 telephone link to all VVCS centres. Recent service enhancement initiatives include the creation of group programs aimed at promoting better health for veterans. Table 7.40 shows use of the VVCS.


7.40 VIETNAM VETERANS’ COUNSELLING SERVICE

Type of counselling
1995-96

no.
1996-97

no.
1997-98

no.
1998-99

no.
1999-00

no.
2000-01

no.

Centre-based consultation
33,411
(a)30,000
(a)30,000
27,368
27,421
29,991
Group session consultation
724
784
(a)500
485
891
678
Country outreach consultation
20,723
21,523
23,061
26,702
26,885
28,063

(a) Estimates.

Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG)

OAWG manages the War Graves Program and maintains some 24,000 graves and memorials of Commonwealth war dead in 75 war cemeteries, plots and civil cemeteries in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands) and Norfolk Island. OAWG also makes an annual contribution to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to assist with the maintenance of war cemeteries elsewhere in the world.

OAWG represents the Australian Government's interest in the maintenance of graves of Australian service personnel and war memorials that commemorate those Australians who died in other conflicts, in overseas countries. These include the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Pusan, Korea, and the British Commonwealth Forces Cemetery in Yokohama, Japan, and in Malaysia.

Another of OAWG's major tasks is the official commemoration within Australia of those Australian men and women whose deaths in post-war years is accepted as due to their war service. In recent years OAWG has processed some 7,000 commemorations annually and this trend continued during 2000-01. The Office has some 250,000 memorials under perpetual maintenance.

OAWG constructs major memorials at significant locations where Australians have suffered and died. In recent years, memorials have been dedicated at Hellfire Pass in Thailand; Le Hamel and Fromelles in France; Sandakan in North Borneo, Malaysia; and the Anzac Commemorative Site at North Beach, Gallipoli. In May 2001 the Hellenic-Australian Memorial Park was dedicated in Rethymno, Crete.

The Office also cares for war graves and cemeteries in Australia which contain the graves of foreign service personnel and civilian internees who died during the two World Wars. It also maintains the graves of, and memorials to, former Prime Ministers of Australia and Governors-General, on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage.


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