From: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Mailing List
Sent: Fri 15/07/2011 2:59 PM

BEST FUNDING CONTINUES TO SUPPORT VETERAN COMMUNITY

Ex-service organisations have received funding to help support their work with the veteran community, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, announced today.

Mr Snowdon said the Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) grants program assists ex-service organisations (ESOs) throughout Australia to provide quality pension, compensation and welfare services to the veteran community, young and old, and their families.

“The Australian Government values the support that ESOs provide to the veteran community and we will work with the large numbers of ESO volunteers to ensure this continues,” he said.

“Over the past five years, the veteran population has declined by around a quarter, resulting in a decrease in the number of claims made to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).”

The veteran population has declined from 460,000 to 360,000 since 2005-06. Claims lodged with the Department during the same period have dropped by 30 per cent.

“During the last three years, the Government allocated increased funds to BEST which included a temporary capital injection to organisations to provide the necessary equipment to do their job,” Mr Snowdon said.

Although this round of BEST funding marks the start of a change to the way the program is administered, Mr Snowdon assured the veteran community that important services will be maintained.

This year’s funding of $3.5 million is comparable to previous levels of funding, despite the declining numbers. The funding will go largely towards administrative and running costs associated with the claim, advocacy and welfare services provided by ESOs.

This round of BEST funding will include a one-off Transition Fund for organisations receiving grants over $10,000 to assist them with the realignment process.

“In addition, as part of the one-off transition arrangements, organisations who are committed to developing efficiencies in their service delivery by joining together with other organisations in their area, can apply to access funds out of a pool of $700,000,” Mr Snowdon said.

The Review of DVA Funded ESO Advocacy and Welfare Services, released earlier this year, focused on how available resources could be used to best effect, particularly the potential for collaboration and cooperation between ESOs. The Review made various recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ESOs providing these services.

“The changes made to BEST are about building a sustainable welfare and advocacy support network in line with the recommendations of the Review, not only encouraging collaboration among ESOs but also improving governance and effectiveness of service delivery,” he said.

BEST grants are just one of the funding options available to assist ESOs, and more information is available through DVA on 1800 026 185.

For more information on BEST grants visit www.dva.gov.au/grants.

Media inquiries:
Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 02 6277 7820 or 0400 045 999
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203