“Falling through the Cracks” – A Proposal to Prevent it

“Falling through the Cracks” is a Royal Australian Regiment Association (RARA) proposal to help prevent it. Have your say about it.

The RARA has been involved in many discussions on various committees through the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council (PMAC) , the Ex- Service Organisations Round table (ESORT)   DVA’s other Consultative forums , State Veterans’ Advisory Councils, with other ESO’s through the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) and with the serving ADF in particular serving members of the RAR, about the current separation/transition process and its problems and complexities.

The individual who discharges on medical grounds and who is already a DVA client is by all reports well catered in most instances, but not all, due to the complexities and frustrations at times in the various pieces of legislation and processes that individuals are subjected to.

But this proposal is not about them: it’s about “the gap” or as some would describe “the chasm” that exists after separating from the ADF. This affects in some cases individuals who are already DVA clients and many more who are not already, but yet potential clients.

This “chasm” is where individuals who separate from the ADF for non-medical reasons (end of career, end of current engagement contract, etc) seem to fall off the military radar and become “lost” when in later years health care is needed.

We need an “over the horizon radar” system to be able to keep track of them in case (when) they “hit the wall” in five, ten or fifteen years and experience difficulties and need help. There is sufficient evidence to support the need for a tracking system to support Australia’s duty of care to its veterans.

DVA is currently reshaping its culture, policies and internal processes to be “client centric” and efficient. This is a welcome initiative which the RAR Association and other ESOs have been advocating for many years: that the Government  must adopt a “whole of life” care philosophy for anyone who has served in the ADF in any capacity, whether deploying operationally or not which also must include our Reservists.

To be able to keep track of anyone who has served and who may experience difficulties after separation, the RAR Association has a proposal that is being put to Government which we believe will alleviate people “falling through the cracks” and will ensure that “whole of life” care protection and support is applied.

The proposal is that anyone separating from the ADF is either (1) provided with a white/silver DVA card which covers all non-liability mental health issues and substance abuse or (2) issued with a normal Medicare Card (which everyone is going to need anyway) with a clear identifier on that card that the individual is an ex-member of the ADF. With that card an individual can at any time, free of charge, present themselves to a GP or a psychologist direct to discuss their respective issue(s) and seek treatment. This through normal medical processes would ensure that all personal particulars and contact details are up to date, ensuring that DVA and other support agencies are aware where the individual is to be able to support in any way required.

It is not a “Big Brother” type surveillance that gets up the nose of a few people; it’s more a “St Vincent” to assist people who may be suffering homelessness, substance abuse and considering self-harm, or through an unfortunate incident find them incarcerated. It’s to be considered a “leg up” but we the ESO community and DVA and other agencies can’t help if we don’t know where they are.

That’s the proposal. Its cost is minimal but its benefits for the individual and support mechanisms and first responders are enormous.

Let us know what you think of it by providing supporting or other comments to the RARA National Secretary [email protected] by 17th February 2017. Thank you.

Duty First

Michael von Berg MC OAM
President
RAR National Association

Comments

  1. Russell Linwood says

    I agree the proposal: A simple “all in” approach so that no one is missed.

    The return on investment has to be so great for DVA. A simple administrative process to kick in that supersedes all previous complex and overlapping (and gap creating) sub-systems, from a fresh start date, HAS to be easier to run than the current mess.

    The great majority of ex-Service personnel are honest enough to not abuse such a system, only using it IF they need it at all.

    Let me know if I can help in any way to get a better deal up for all of our colleagues.

  2. What a great idea. I am the partner of an ex-serviceman who had to jump through hoops to get the health support he needed. Too much bureaucracy….government departments hoping you’ll give up and go away. I am concerned for the current crop of serving members and the potential mental health and medical issues they face. They will need all the help they can get, whether it be now or further down the track. “Whole of life” is a great initiative.

  3. Contacting DVA in the 1st instance and getting a positive result encourages the “Client” to continue with their case, hopeful they will get a positive outcome. I could be wrong but recent feed back I have had is that DVA is not staffed by understanding former ADF members, but staff without any knowledge of issues that returned ADF members are confronted with. Have a good look at the Staff and ensure ‘are they qualified to deal with the fragile issues that many returned members are faced with everyday.

  4. This is a wonderful initiative of RARA and will give all former defence members immediate access to non liability treatment, and avoid the current indignity and time consuming process of having to apply to DVA and prove your Defence service.

    My only further suggestion voiced earlier to RARA exec is that we ask DVA to reimagine the presentation on the card to make it a dignified Veteran identity card , not just a disability card . The card could have some statement like : Our nation gratefully recognises the military service of the bearer of this card and asks all who deal with them to treat them with appropriate respect and dignity.

  5. A great initiative that I know has been suggested before but overjoyed that it should be presented via the combined ex service committees and I for one and fully support the proposal. Well done!!!!!

  6. Steve Ager says

    Well done RARA, good to see a proactive association, putting it’s members first and foremost. So sad that others (In the ESO arena) will/do not. Nice work.

  7. This is a good idea. I was told that I had PTSD prior to me deciding to discharge. My belief was that if I removed the problem then I would be able to get rid of the illness(PTSD). How wrong I was. I was never told how bad PTSD could be or for that fact anything about it at all.
    After discharge I did feel great for a period of time but I now know that one never gets over it. I believe that if I had of been correctly informed about this Illness my life may of been better.

  8. Anthony Kirkett says

    This initiative is a move forward and thanks to the men of the RARA for seeing a shortfall that’s has had our soldiers in a downward spiral for such a long time. I know agencies like DVA should have been ramping up their proceedurs over the last 17 years as a direct result from how our Vietnam Veterans were treated. That was a learning curve that’s should have had our government on high alert for the current crop of veterans suffering the same slow indignat treatment suffered by our Vietnam veterans some of them are still fighting. Thank you for this new found enthusiastic approach to veterans long term care. An old soldier.

  9. There’s plenty of us that were medically discharged and have slipped through the cracks as DVA has made the hoops too numerous and too high to jump through that you just move on and deal with it yourself.

  10. Joseph Royston says

    It’s fine to say if you served for one day in The Australian Army, you are entitled to the white card for non-liability cover
    If you have served your country overseas on active service, it would be feasible to give the servicemen and women that have the AASSM the Gold Card
    Would solve all problems
    Would free up DVA backlog

    • The Gold card is for injuries attained during your service, including war, war like and peace time. If you hand it to everyone who has been awarded the AASM, then it negates the whole aspect of the card. Many who have the AASM have not been exposed to warlike situations (personnel based in the UAE, 1700kms from Iraq, Afghanistan, Diego Garcia ground personnel). I know many ex-service personnel who have horrific injuries from peace time service, eg; The Black Hawk incident, many of them do not have a Gold card. The White card is there to assist those who still work pay for treatment that they would otherwise be out of pocket for. The Gold card is for those who have been deemed Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI), to hand everyone who has been awarded the AASM suggests that all of them are a TPI, I am sure that this would not sit well with those who do not fit this criteria. The white card is an acceptable form of cover to personnel those who leave the ADF with, accepted and recognised injuries (PTSD etc). Not to everyone just because they served, and do not have a need for it.

  11. Gordon Leslie Young says

    Well done RAR National Association.

  12. James Thorpe says

    Great idea should have been put in place since federation.