It was pleasing to note the Abbott Government’s commitment to rehabilitation and reducing claim time targets for Veterans in the 2015-16 Budget. A $10 million commitment to boosting the number of claims officers in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is also welcome.
However it does raise the inevitable question of whether it will be enough. Over the past decade there have been numerous reviews, inquiries and commitments by Governments of both persuasions and yet Veterans have continued to experience long delays, red tape and stonewalling when seeking to have their claims processed. More recently, staff cuts across the board have exacerbated these delays.
Whilst we welcome the modest increase in the Budget a more meaningful step would be a move by the Government to legislate timeframes for decision making on claims for DVA so that our Veterans don't wait years for a decision. All injured workers outside the Commonwealth have this protection.
As the Senate Inquiry into the mental health of our Veterans ramps up and so does our military presence overseas, now is the time for the Government to ensure our veterans are able to access the care they deserve.
Senator Ronaldson quite rightly points out that early intervention is key to better long-term health outcomes for injured Veterans, which is precisely why the current delays and run around is so frustrating.
Our military personnel make an enormous sacrifice when they sign on to serve. Its time, to paraphrase Senator Ronaldson, the Government honours its commitments to them.