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News > General > Weekly Issues 21 February 2022

Weekly Issues 21 February 2022

NSW widows from the War in Afghanistan advised that NSW does not recognise them as widows and other issues
20 Feb 2022
Written by Ian Lindgren
General

The Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans' Association helps all veterans and veteran family members and does not require them to be paid up members of the Association because together we are stronger as one.  Our key issues this week are below.

Keep up to date with how we Identify, Act On, and Monitor Veteran Issues

The NSW Government and Recognition of Widows from the War in Afghanistan

Most veterans and veteran families eligible for concessions in NSW are required to prove once that they are eligible.  However, widows from Australia's longest war have the traumatic experience of reliving their loss every three months when the NSW Department of Families and Community Service and Sydney Water advise by letter that "The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently advised that you no longer qualify for a pensioner rebate” which is not the case.

Calls to resolve this end with "the NSW Government does not yet recognise widows from the Afghanistan War".  We expect that this is as a result of public servants not knowing the answer and instead of taking the time to provide the right answer; just take a guess. 

We will be taking this up with the Minister for Family and Community Services, the NSW Minister for Veterans.  We will also advise other Ex-Service Organisations that assist in this area so we all have visibility.

Veterans Sexually Assaulted by Foreign Nationals

This week we supported Women Veterans United – Australia in its activity to determine whether or not female veterans sexually assaulted by foreign nationals when under the care of the Commonwealth were eligible for compensation.  The Commonwealth Ombudsman indicated that she could not address the issue as it lay in the jurisdiction of Defence. We asked Secretary DVA to confirm DVA’s position and within two days we’re advised that “Whether or not the assailant was a foreigner would have no bearing on the investigation or outcome of a claim involving abuse.”  

There are cases that do not fall within the DVA eligibility criteria, and this is an area the Commonwealth Ombudsman can assist in should the policy within Defence change.  Yet it has not to date.   So, the matter remains unresolved, and we are monitoring it.  Despite the subject, we feel it is a good example of how an ESORT Member can work as a team with all ex-service organisations.   We thank the Secretary DVA for a rapid message of clarification and look forward Defence and the Government’s speedy response.

Inequities in Funeral Costs

Where dependants are eligible for payments to assist with funeral costs the Veterans’ Entitlements Act provides a payment of $2,000 and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, provides up to $12,603.88. We believe all veterans and their dependants are equal in this situation and have found recommendations going back many years have made the case for the payments to be the same at the higher amount.   With advice from an independent advocate, Andrew Sloane, we have found that righting this inequity is “a matter for consideration by the Australian Government”, so we will approach the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.

The Claims Process

DVA continues to be very helpful in working with us to make transparent high level claims data that indicates the good, the bad and the not so go in terms of claims data performance.  Transparency engenders trust and we will be continuing to work with DVA to publish claims data that can be understood by veteran and their families.  

The One Medal Policy

This interesting policy that dates back to WWII indicates that “current government policy on the establishment of campaign medals is that only one medal be awarded to recognise a single type of service”.  Setting aside that no one can put their hands on the policy, this appears discriminatory because for example veterans of Operation AGILA where the role of the multi-national force was to keep the peace between 22,000 independence fighters and the Rhodesian forces during the cease-fire run-up to the 1980 elections.  ADF participants received the Commonwealth Rhodesia Medal and a Federal Government decision denied them the AASM because that would be more than one medal.  This has significant flow on effects relating to compensation entitlements so we will follow this because we feel that many peacekeepers are likely to be in the same boat.

Australian Peacekeeper Magazine

The latest issue is currently being printed.

The 75th Anniversary of Australians participating in Peacekeeping Operations

The 75th Anniversary of Australians participating in Peacekeeping Operations will occur on 14 September 2022 and we ask for four volunteers to help coordinate the activity.  Please contact Ian Lindgren on 0414245254.

Swiss8 and REDSIX

These valueable resources are beihg downloaded in greater numbers than any other veteran mental health applications and deserve funding because they perform a service that some would say is DVA's.  They are cetrainly trusted by many, and do not have the communication issues with veterans and veteran families that Open Arms has, so we are lobbying for funding to support the teams.

We have a New Facebook Site

Please click here and go to our new Facebook site and please like the site as opposed to following it.  The old site will be deleted this week.

Outstanding Issues

The Douglas Decision and its treatment of military invalidity benefits pre 2007. This was a judicial decision so it is not something the Commonwealth can overturn without taking the matter to the courts, and if it did it would have a negative effective on post 2007 recipients that were recently increased. We remain confident that the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs will circulate the options to ensure no veteran eligible for pre 2007 payments is worse off.  And because no one person really understands the many interpretations each government department will make on the decision and any action to resolve it for pre 2007 recipients ,we have asked for a safety net to cater for those effected in ways that were never anticipated.  

Claims Outstanding for Unreasonable Periods.   We have received a number of requests to assist with claims that have been outstanding for unreasonable periods and can now take this to DVA.  The process is under development and it is very important to work in partnership with DVA to resolve these.  We are continuing to do so, but because of a lack of resources we are not acting as rapidly as we would like.  If you have capacity to volunteer to assist our issues and research team, please contact Ian Lindgren on 0414245254.

Keep up to date with how we Identify, Act On, and Monitor Veteran Issues

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