Cuts take toll on veteran support centre

The Central Victorian Veteran Support Centre is struggling to meet the needs of veterans, war widows and families after federal funding was slashed by 40 per cent this year.

The funding cuts to Building Excellence in Support and Training grants program were discussed at the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Victorian state council meeting in Bendigo on Saturday.

The CVVSC received a BEST grant of $37,272 in 2013-14, down from $62,021 in 2012-13. VVAA state assistance secretary and Central Victorian Veteran Support Centre administrator Sue McQueen said the centre provided vital help to ex-servicemen and women and their families.

“It is manned mainly by Vietnam vets who assist others with their pension, welfare and advocacy needs,” she said.

“Without funding, the whole thing could fold.

“If anything, more assistance is needed for ex-servicemen organisations to keep up advocacy work.”

Bendigo District RSL Sub-Branch president Cliff Richards said the funding cuts were having a “huge impact”.

“The centres are really hurting at the moment. For someone to service their country and have injuries from that now being denied opportunity to seek appropriate support is unfair.” 

A Department of Veterans’ Affairs spokesperson said BEST funding was based on the amount of claims from the previous years.

“The CVVSC’s annual funding through BEST was reduced by approximately 40 per cent for the 2013-14 FY due to a marked reduction in the claims workload. 

“BEST grants are considered annually on the basis of a formula using the workload information provided. 

“The level of funding an organisation received in previous years cannot be taken as an indication of the level of funding they will receive in the future. 

“The department continues its proactive work to support and provide access to health care, compensation and income support for the Australian veteran and war widower community.”