The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSLA) says next week’s Federal Budget must include initiatives that improve the lives of the nation’s veterans and their families, and funding to address inequities and barriers that continue to be experienced by the veteran community.
National President Greg Melick says the RSL is looking forward to a May 9 Budget that confirms Australia’s commitment to support veterans and their families, and importantly provides the funding to fully implement the recommendations of the current Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
“We are anticipating a Budget that honours our veterans’ service and sacrifice, and one that rightly recognises the strength of their continued contribution to our communities and our country,” Greg Melick said.
Greg Melick says the Budget needs to focus on people, both serving Defence personnel in view of the recently released Defence Strategic Review, as well as veterans and their families.
“Particularly, we are looking for a commitment to demand-driven funding to support veterans’ welfare, rather than having to fight for funding each budget year,” he said.
“No previous Government has agreed to this imperative and the RSL believes it is essential that this is addressed.
“According to the 2021 Census, one in 20 Australian households include at least one person who has served or is currently serving in the Australian Defence Force. These service people make a significant and unique contribution to our nation both during and after their service.”
RSL Australia made an extensive pre-Budget submission to Treasury calling on the Government to make budgetary provisions to remove some of the inequities and barriers that veterans and their families continue to experience. This includes budgetary provisions to:
- Establish an independent body led by a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Wellbeing to guide prompt implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
- Extend non-liability healthcare for mental health treatment to ADF reservists on completion of the enlistment process
- Strengthen the advocacy system and enhance the Advocacy Training and Development Program to better support veterans to navigate the DVA claims process
- Review and uplift DVA renumeration for healthcare providers to better enable veterans to access timely and appropriate healthcare
- Achieve a tangible reduction in the administrative burden placed on healthcare providers in accessing DVA renumeration.
Greg Melick said it was encouraging that the current Government had already acted to implement some improvements, including to simplify and reform veterans’ entitlement legislation. This is welcomed and the RSL and the veteran community are now looking for that momentum to be accelerated in next week’s Budget.
“This Budget provides the opportunity for the Government to comprehensively change the way in which Australia treats its veterans.
“The social and economic contribution made by our veterans and their families post-service is incredibly valuable to our nation. Funding action to help maximise their skills and capabilities represents a sound investment for us all,” Greg Melick said.
Link to RSLA’s pre-Budget submission: www.rslaustralia.org/pre-budget-submission