NEW and improved services for veterans and their families will flow from an extra $100 million in the Federal Budget for their needs, The Nationals’ Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, says.

“Australia owes a great debt of gratitude to veterans and their families because of the sacrifices they have made to make and keep our country as safe as it can be and as a former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs I am delighted they will receive more and even better services as a result of the Budget,” Mr McCormack said.

New funding in the Budget includes $4 million for the ongoing implementation of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program and $4.3 million for additional services to help veterans enter the broader workforce.

“Businesses right throughout the Riverina and Central West know the value of employing ex-servicemen and women,” Mr McCormack said.

“They have benefited from the unique skills and experience former Australian Defence Force personnel bring to the civilian workplace.

“The Liberal and Nationals’ Government  is making it easier for businesses to employ ex-servicemen and women and making it easier for these potential employees to transition from military jobs to civilian jobs.

“We are doing this through new Budget funding to provide additional support with resumé and interview preparation, translating ADF skills into civilian competencies, mentoring and coaching services.”

Mr McCormack said the increased Budget funding follows better services for veterans and their families from the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Veteran-Centric Reforms No. 1) Bill 2018 he introduced as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs in February.

The Bill creates a new veteran payment to assist financially vulnerable veterans who have lodged a compensation claim for a mental health condition and are unable to work while their claim is being determined.

The spouses of veterans killed in recent conflicts, or who take their own life following their service, will be eligible for childcare assistance, household services and counselling to assist them to adjust to life after the death of their partner.

Childcare assistance will be made available until completion of primary education. Household services and counselling will be made available for a period of up to two years after their partner’s death

“There are many other benefits for veterans in the Bill relating to the  Family Tax Benefit and extending Gold Card entitlements  to ADF members who served in Japan after the end of World War II and before the formation of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force,” Mr McCormack said.

 The Bill includes a new pilot program to provide improved mental health support to veterans in remote and regional areas.

The Budget also includes $10.8 million to remove the reduction in the amount of incapacity payments when eligible veterans are undertaking approved full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan.

“We are also improving dental and allied health services for veterans,” Mr McCormack said.

Additionally, the Budget expands eligibility for non-liability mental health treatment to reservists with domestic or international disaster relief or border protection service or those involved in a serious service-related training accident.

It also extends eligibility for the Long Tan Bursary to the grandchildren of Vietnam veterans and reverses two 2015-16 measures related to certain calculations under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.

“Again, these are new practical and valuable improvements, but they won’t be the last because the Government is committed to care for and support our veterans and their families,” Mr McCormack said.

Ken Grimson