"VERC OUTCOMES FOR PEACEKEEPERS"
A summary of the Veterans' Entitlement Review
Committee (VERC), chaired by Justice Clarke, QC, with Air Marshall Doug Riding
and DR Rosalky.
The APPA Submitted the following:
1. That disability pensions be considered
as compensation by Centrelink (i.e. not counted as assessable income for
2. That any benefit received from the
Military Compensation and Rehabilitation Service or the Military Compensation
Scheme be deemed compensation for an accepted disability or disabilities.
3. That a new, low-interest home loan
scheme be introduced, and the existing Defence Service Home Loan scheme be
4. That the Vietnam Veterans Counselling
Service be renamed.
5. That children of all veterans with
psychosocial illnesses be provided with counselling services.
6. That all veterans be allowed to
participate in DVA-funded health and care programs (for example, Heart
Rehabilitation - the APPA recommended:
1. creation of a younger veteran career
incentive scheme that helps younger veterans gain qualifications and
prospective employment, is not time restrictive, does not restrict veterans'
income from VEA benefits, is Commonwealth funded, and provides the younger
veteran with self-esteem and personal pride;
2. allowing younger veterans who are unable
to function in employment to return to the special rate disability pension
with no detriment; and
3. a wealth-creation education program for
younger veterans, to give them incentives to fund their own retirement and to
allow them to independently and actively plan for life after 65 (off the
The Recommendations by the VERC IRT
Rehabilitation was the following:
1. The aim of rehabilitation is to restore
veterans to their optimal level of function commensurate with their
service-related disabilities in order to provide them with better quality of
life, maximised vocational outcomes and reduced dependency on financial
2. Veterans' participation in
rehabilitation assessments and, where appropriate, rehabilitation programs is
an integral, obligatory part of the disability compensation provided under the
repatriation system; and
3. DVA has a responsibility to provide
suitable and comprehensive rehabilitation to veterans who require it as a
result of service-related disabilities.
Post World War II issues.
1. Butterworth. It was contended that service
in Butterworth be Active Service from 1970 - 1989 (non-APPA submission).
Recommendation: No further action be taken in
respect of peacetime service for Butterworth after the cessation of
2. Reclassification of all Peacekeeping
Operations. The APPA submitted that all PKO be reclassified to allow improved
entitlements such as Service Pension.
Recommendation: Although the VERC agreed with
the APPA that service within PKO was indeed hazardous it was contended that
because PKOs are not armed with a clear given military objective with the use
of force, the reclassification was not valid. The VERC recommended that no
change be made to the eligibility provisions of the VEA for Peacekeeping
3. UNMOGIP be reclassified to Active
Service during the second India-Pakistan war over Kashmir from the period
August 1965 to January 1966 (non-APPA).
Recommendation: The VERC recommend that no
change be made to the eligibility provisions of the VEA for service with
UNMOGIP. The decision was made in line with the PKO reclassification.
4. Police Serving on UN Operations (AUSTCIVPOL
Assn and Australian Federal Police). Although the committee agreed that the
service that police provide as part of the Commonwealth's commitment to world
peace, the reclassification for Schedule 2 was refused. It was also noted by
the VERC that the police have their own superannuation fund, along with a
police compensation scheme in which the Police are eligible for all three
(inclusive of Schedule 3 entitlements).
5. Service with Operation Habitat (2
individual submissions). It was argued by the individuals that their service
in Northern Iraq be counted as Qualifying service. The VERC determined that
the operation was humanitarian, with not specific rules of engagement to
actively purse military objectives. The ROE were defensive only. A
comparison was made with the UNTAG operation in which it was determined as
inappropriate because the two operations were conducted under different
Recommendation: The VERC recommended that
no change be made to the eligibility provisions of the VEA relating to service
providing humanitarian relief to the Kurds as part of Operation Habitat in
6. Reclassification for the UNMCTT PESHAWAR
(Pakistan). The submission claimed that they were given permission by the
Australian Government to observe and monitor Mine Clearing operations in
Afghanistan and that they should be entitled to Active Service benefits. The
VERC determined that although Hazardous, the ASC UNMCTT was not armed with a
clear military objective as described in "War-Like" Operations.
Recommendation: Therefore the VERC
recommended no change to entitlements for the Australian Contingent to the
7. SPECIAL OPS. The Submarine service
disclosed that they were involved in Special Operations during the period 1978
- 1992. In addition, personnel involved in covert Intelligence or Covert
Signals Operations were also discussed, however due to the high-grade secrecy
behind these operations, they could not be discussed. The APPA did place a
submission asking for a review into Special Operations since 1953.
Recommendation: The VERC recommended that:
a. Service on submarines during
special operations is not warlike service for the purposes of the VEA;
b. Service on submarines during
special operations be deemed non-warlike hazardous for the purposes of the VEA;
c. That the Department of Defence
further reviews the activities of personnel undertaking covert intelligence
gathering, or involved in covert signals operations, to determine their
operational status for benefits under the VEA.
SUBMISSIONS OUTSIDE THE TERMS OF REFERENCE.
The APPA submitted the following:
1. That the ASM Clasp RWANDA be upgraded to
the AASM Clasp RWANDA.
2. Issuing of a Military Combat Badge for
3. A number of matters relating to the
issue of medals to peacekeepers.
Recommendation: The VERC invited the authors
of the submissions raising those matters to have their correspondence referred
to the Department of Defence (the responsible agency), for consideration and
Action by APPA: To compile and comprehensive
submission and submit this submission to the Department of Defence for
consideration and reply. (Gavin Lee Victoria Branch).
That is all at this present time - I invite
all addressees to read the latest document from the VERC and see where it
potentially may affect you. Many more issues were raised by the APPA, however
in light of the Current New MCS Working Group in Canberra (the one we are not
allowed to be involved with), the VERC stated that the improvements for future
military compensation will be adequately covered in the New MCS. The
intention is to moth-ball the current VEA and MCRS - that means that anyone
with current qualifying service for these schemes will be entitled to claim
under both or one or the other. They will remain in force until a "Major
Mobilisation". The New MCS will concentrate on Rehabilitation and will
provide severely injured personnel with better financial coverage. The
approach will also be generous toward those with various medical conditions.