From 1 May 2018, veterans with mental health issues will be able to access payments from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs including accessing income support while they are waiting for their compensation claim to be processed.
“This is a significant step forward in assisting our most vulnerable citizens. Lack of access to justice and support systems contribute to alarmingly high suicide rates for veterans in Australia. It’s almost double the national suicide rate,” said Shine Lawyers’ Abuse Law solicitor Katrina Stouppos.
The Veteran PaymentThe Veteran Payment aims to bridge the gap to provide a form of income support to veterans who have lodged a claim for a mental health related injury and are waiting for the DVA to decide their claim. The payment aims to provide short-term financial assistance to veterans and is subject to an asset and income tests. A veteran who accesses the payment is also required to participate in vocational and psychosocial rehabilitation and may be provided assistance with budgeting and financial counselling.
“The military compensation system can be difficult to navigate and overwhelming to a veteran who is already suffering mental health issues. It’s about time the government moved to help these survivors.”
In addition to Veteran Payment, the new scheme also offers the opportunity for training and counselling for veterans who are at risk including a program for veterans in rural, regional and remote areas. The new scheme can also benefit family members of veterans including someone who has died by suicide or in combat. This includes:
- Up to $10,000 per child each year for children under school age and/or up to $5,000 per child per year for school age children including covering before and after school care
- Brief intervention counselling for family members of up to 20 sessions over 5 years; and
- Additional household services such as gardening and domestic support for partners of a deceased ADF member
"Many of our clients say the hardest part is the fear of not being believed when they finally ask for help for mental illness… Making interim payments while the DVA decides whether to accept PTSD as service related, makes the decision to come forward just a little bit easier,” said Stouppos.
Further information about the scheme can be found here.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, contact:
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: April 19, 2018.