Troops being failed by system: Federal MP

Federal MP Amanda Rishworth (right) says local veterans are being let down current support systems.
Federal MP Amanda Rishworth (right) says local veterans are being let down current support systems.

Young veterans are being failed by current support systems, with some waiting up to 18 months to get injury claims processed, the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs says. 

Federal MP Amanda Rishworth visited Bendigo on Friday to discuss issues facing local veterans, one of which was incorrect documentation of injuries. 

“They (veterans) feel they’re being pushed out the door without support, when your being medically discharged it’s a very difficult time,” she said, adding there needed to be a holistic approach to injuries.

“A back problem for example is not seen as connected to knee, many of the veterans feel the system is adversarial.”

The improper documentation of injuries impacted a person’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims, she said.

Some veterans can wait up to 18 months to have a claim processed, which is an eternity, Ms Rishworth said. 

“If you’ve left the force and you stop getting a wage then that’s a problem,” she said.

“A year and a half is just too long.”

Federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters admitted local veterans struggled with reintegrating back into society, and difficulties with paperwork and DVA applications didn’t help. 

“The clunky system doesn’t work. It has an inability to support each individual case,” she said.

A number of local employers were progressive when it came to hiring veterans, and indeed the government was “trying” to fund decent employment programs, Ms Chesters said, “but it’s not enough”. 

Neither Ms Chesters nor Ms Rishworth offered any policy alternatives, but the member for Bendigo said she had committed to forming a working group with local veterans to get their voices heard on a federal level.

DVA spends around $191 million per year to provide mental health treatment and services to the veteran community, including online information and support tools, GP services, psychology and social work services, psychiatric services, pharmaceuticals and hospital services.

According to the federal government’s budget 2017-18 statements, as of 1 March 2018, all current and former members who have served one day in the full-time ADF will have access to treatment for all mental health conditions.  

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) was also expanded as part of the federal budget.