Younger Veterans' Concern of the Clarke Review
- Thursday 19 February 2004

The Australian Peacekeeper & Peacemaker Veterans' Association (APPVA) today rallied with other major Ex-Service Organisations, to support the views of concerns by the Australian Veteran community of the Government response to the Clarke Review.

The Government response to the Clarke Review was kyboshed by Liberal Backbenchers on Tuesday, after 13 ministers took a united stand for veterans' rights and entitlements.

"What these Ministers did on Tuesday was exceptionally brave and we appreciate that the veteran community at least has the support of the incumbent Government back-benchers." Mr Copeland said today.

The APPVA was dismayed that the association's National Leadership was overlooked for inclusion in to the unveiling of the intended Government Response on Tuesday, alongside with many Ex-Service Organisation representatives. "We have endeavoured to contact the Minister's Office via telephone and email, with no reply. The Minister talks about consultation with the ex-service community, however it appears that the Minister has been very slow to respond in talking to the Younger Veterans of this country and discuss their concerns over the lack of invitation to the Ex-service organisation meeting on Tuesday." Mr Copeland said.

The Younger Veterans association (APPVA), covers a unique group of around 65,000 Australian Defence Force and Australian Police veterans who have served in 64 Operations in all corners of the globe since 1947 to the current operations of East Timor, Middle East, Africa, The Solomon Islands and Iraq.

"We are the current and future veterans of this country and it would appear that an indiscretion by the Minister's office is interpreted as not consulting with this special group of veterans." Mr. Copeland said.

The APPVA submitted four (4) articles outlining proposed changes and current issues to the Veterans' Entitlement Act, to allow Peacekeeping Veterans to be eligible for Qualifying Service for War Service Pension. Of particular note was the deteriorating situation for Totally & Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) Rwanda veterans, traumatised by their service, who are struggling to raise young families and make ends meet.

"We gave many examples to the Clarke Committee of how the Younger Veteran, who is TPI and the difficulties that those veterans are experiencing in maintaining a decent quality of life, whilst trying to pay off mortgages, car, kids at school and put food on the table. These veterans were proud to have served this country and have lost their health and well-being because of this service. Their concerns were not given favourable consideration by the Clarke Committee and perhaps by this Government." Mr Copeland said. Younger Veterans and their partners are faced with sending the partner to work, in order to make ends meet. In most cases, the partner ends up being the carer. When the partner has to work then the veteran forfeits continual care. In addition it appears that the requests of police veterans to be given equality in Veterans' Entitlements, in comparison to the ADF members they have served alongside was also cast aside. "Is this anyway to treat our veterans of today and tomorrow, for putting their country first?" Mr Copeland stated.

The APPVA, like many Ex-service organisations want to see the TPI Special Rate Pension to be indexed in line with the Male Average Timed Weekly Earnings and/or CPI - whichever is the greatest. The APPVA also wants improvements made for Qualifying Service to Peacekeepers and access for veterans to Centrelink allowances, where their Disability Pensions are counted as income for means and assets purposes.

The APPVA continues to attempt to contact the Minister's office to ask why they were omitted from the list of National Ex-Service Organisations meeting on Tuesday and will be determined to be at the tabling in March.

CONTACT: National President Paul Copeland Mobile: 0419 355 226