Supporting Our Veterans

If elected in March 2018 a Marshall Liberal Government will provide a range of support to former defence personnel and veterans and continue to recognise their service to our nation.

The Opportunity

Some 5,200 personnel leave the Australian Defence Force (ADF) each year for a range of reasons and they deserve our support in their return to civilian life.

One of the best ways to help their transition is to support their future work and career aspirations.

They have training, skills and experience which are transferable to employment across a broad range of fields.

Tackling mental health and other challenges facing ex-serving ADF members and their families must remain another key priority.

In recent years, the Federal Government has significantly increased its support for veterans’ mental health services, including an additional $58.6 million funding in the 2017-18 federal budget.

The federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is implementing a multi-faceted strategy to prevent suicide and support those affected by it.

However, while the incidence of suicide amongst current serving full-time ADF members is known, only limited information is available about ex-serving ADF members.

About 20% of younger ex-service men and women don’t seek any assistance from DVA or even identify themselves as veterans.

During a recent review into suicide and self-harm prevention services available to current and former serving ADF members and their families, several issues were raised highlighting a lack of awareness of services available.

It was found that ‘general difficulties in navigating systems (in the ADF, DVA and the broader health system) that can be complex and opaque’ may be contributing to this lack of awareness.

In its response to the Commission’s report, the Federal Government recognised that ‘while there is an extensive system of support available, barriers still exist that stop people from accessing this care.

Understanding what stops people from seeking help and putting in place strategies to improve pathways to care is a priority.’

As a result, the Federal Government has committed to ‘collaboration with State and Territory governments and the Department of
Health to expand opportunities to incorporate veteran and ADF status indicators into datasets to better understand service use and, where possible, patient outcomes.’

It is believed that nationally, about 3,000 veterans end up homeless but it is not known how many former service personnel utilise government services or could be helped in other ways.

To more effectively target support, more information is needed to identify the extent of the problem and how homelessness or entry to the mental health and justice systems can be avoided.

It is estimated there are about 27,000 veterans residing in South Australia, including partners, families and carers.

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018 a Marshall Liberal Government will provide a range of support to former defence personnel and veterans and continue to recognise their service to our nation.

In implementing this policy, the Premier will be personally responsible for the Veterans Affairs portfolio to ensure an across-government approach to the delivery of services and support.

Employment

The Naval Shipbuilding Program to be centred in South Australia provides a significant opportunity to help ex-service personnel in their return to employment in civilian life.

A Marshall Liberal Government will fund a Defence Industry Employment Program for Ex-Service Personnel.

The Program will recognise and promote the training, skills and experience of South Australia’s ex-service personnel and support and facilitate a pathway to employment within the defence industry.

Operating within the Defence Teaming Centre, the program will leverage the existing defence industry relationships of the Defence Teaming Centre to promote job opportunities within the sector to ex-service personnel.

The program won’t seek to duplicate any existing services or support offered by the Department of Defence, other government departments or ex-service organisations.

Instead, it will facilitate access to existing support and provide additional training and education specific to working within the defence industry environment.

The program will also assist with skills translation, job applications and resume development.

To further assist ex-service personnel to return to civilian employment a Marshall Liberal Government will also:

  • consider options to boost opportunities for ex-service personnel in state public sector employment, including preferential treatment to veterans for employment;
  • ensure that officers involved in public sector recruitment and human resource management are well informed about the skills and attributes of former ex-service personnel and how they can meet South Australian public sector employment requirements.

Access to Government services

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will strongly support data collection on the number of veterans and ex-service personnel in South Australia who become homeless, experience mental health problems or are in prison and could benefit from greater access to Federal and State government support and assistance.

In 2015, a project was initiated to establish a process for collecting data on veterans and their families’ use of South Australian Government services such as health, mental health, education, correction services, social inclusion (homelessness), emergency services and higher education.

The aim of this data collection is to deliver a better understanding of the needs of veterans and enable more efficient services to be delivered to them.

Under a Liberal Government, completion of this work will be given high priority through the Veterans SA agency as the central contact point for information about services to veterans.

We will also closely engage with ex-service organisations.

Other South Australian Government agencies and non-government organisations are engaged in work with veterans and ex-service personnel and could collect data working in partnership with the ABS and the DVA.

The policy will ensure the South Australian Government has a much better understanding of our veteran and ex-service community so that its needs can be more effectively supported.

Family support

Partners and family more broadly are usually the immediate support network for veterans and supporting them in this role is vital.

The Partners of Veterans Association of Australia (PVA) does just this – with nine support groups in South Australia and 6,000 members nationally.

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will support this organisation to continue to provide vital services to partners and families of veterans via a small grant to assist with administrative costs including printing and membership management.

We will also work with the RSL to support its role in ensuring services to veterans are delivered as efficiently as possible.

Greater recognition

The vision of an avenue memorial for Anzac Highway has been talked about ever since the Bay Road became Anzac Highway in 1923.

Despite this, little has been done to realise this vision.

If elected, a Marshall Liberal Government will begin the process to re-memorialise Anzac Highway, starting with shifting the memorials which are currently located on median strips to road verges to make them more visible and accessible.

This builds on our previous commitment to funding headstones for unmarked graves of World War One veterans in South Australia, giving these servicemen the recognition they deserve.

We are also committed to recognising veterans by funding grave leases on an ongoing basis for war veterans, as opposed to families having to repurchase the lease every 25 years to avoid it being removed.

These are simple but important ways we will honour and recognise the great sacrifice of those who have served in our armed forces.