Defence and veteran mental health and suicide, transitional support for people leaving the Australian Defence Force (ADF), service pensions and service delivery failures are the key issues facing returned service people.
These were outlined by Macarthur veterans and advocates today at a roundtable with Labor’s Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs Shayne Neumann, organised by Federal Member for Macarthur Dr Mike Freelander and hosted by NSW RSL President Ray James.
“The roundtable provided a great opportunity for local service personnel, veterans and advocates to highlight the issues that concern them,” Dr Freelander said.
“For a start, local veterans are waiting too long to get their entitlements and waiting times for compensation claims have continued to blow out while Department of Veterans’ Affairs deals with a huge backlog of applications.”
Veterans outlined how they are waiting six months or longer to receive payments.
Shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs Shayne Neumann said more needed to be done to tackle the scourge of defence and veteran suicides.
“A year ago, the Government announced a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, but many veterans and families have rejected this as a marketing exercise designed to placate them and avoid a proper investigation,” Mr Neumann said.
“Labor and many veterans have called for a Royal Commission into ADF and veteran suicides instead to try to get to the bottom of the issue once and for all.
“And we need to do more to support our defence personnel when it comes to transitioning out of the ADF and into civilian life through assistance with mental health, employment, housing and homelessness, for example.”
“Local veterans are waiting too long to get their entitlements and waiting times for compensation
claims have continued to blow out while the Department of Veterans’ Affairs deals with
a huge backlog of applications.”
– Dr. Mike Freelander, Federal Member for Macarthur
Local veterans are also frustrated with the Government’s responses to reviews of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) pension and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) scheme.
Visiting Dredge’s Cottage in Campbelltown, Mr Neumann said that one of the things the Federal Labor Opposition is looking into is local facilities to support veterans as they manage their health, wellness and future employment.
The electorate of Macarthur is home to a large ex-service community and Dr Freelander believes the community has a duty to look after the people who have put their lives on the line for our nation.
“My door is always open and I am always happy to meet with local veterans and their families, and ex-service organisations to talk about ways we can improve policies and programs,” Dr Freelander said.