MEDIA RELEASE: New legislation to simplify and harmonise veteran compensation

3 Jul 2024

The Albanese Government is simplifying and harmonising Australia’s veterans’ rehabilitation and compensation system – with new legislation introduced today.

Under the Veterans’ Entitlements, Treatment and Support (Simplification and Harmonisation) Bill 2024, all new compensation claims from 1 July 2026 will be dealt with under a single piece of legislation – an improved Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) – regardless of when or where the veteran served.

This is another important step in responding to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s Interim Report and is the result of significant community consultation.

In August 2022, the Royal Commission told us that legislation governing compensation and rehabilitation for veterans and their families is ‘so complicated that it adversely affects the mental health of some veterans and can be a contributing factor to suicidality’.

After decades of piecemeal change built on top of a century of different veterans’ entitlements legislation, these reforms will deliver a system that is easier for veterans and families to understand what they are entitled to, and will make it simpler for veteran advocates to assist veterans, so veterans receive the benefits and supports they need and deserve.

Importantly the legislation will enable the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to process claims quicker – so the veteran community can receive the benefits and supports they need and deserve in a timely manner.

As part of these reforms, the Government is enhancing various entitlements including: 

  • The introduction of a new Additional Disablement Amount (ADA), similar to the existing Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA) under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA). This would compensate veterans who are Age Pension age or older and who have a high degree of incapacity due to service-related conditions. 
  • Introduction of ‘presumptive liability’, allowing the Repatriation Commission to specify injuries and diseases that can be determined on a presumptive basis where they are known to have a common connection with military service – without needing to engage with the Statement of Principles system. 
  • Consolidation of household and attendant care, travel for treatment, and retention of automatic granting of VEA funeral benefits in the MRCA. 
  • An increase to $3,000 for funeral allowance for previous automatic grant categories under the VEA, and the availability of reimbursement of funeral expenses up to $14,062 for all service-related deaths. 
  • The availability to all veterans of the higher reimbursement amount, regardless of kilometres, when a private vehicle is used to travel for treatment. 
  • Standardisation of allowances and other payments, including: acute support packages, Victoria Cross and decoration allowances, education schemes, prisoner of war ex gratia payments, and additional compensation for children of severely impaired veterans.
  • Enhancement of the Repatriation Commission’s ability to grant special assistance to veterans and their dependants. 
  • Veterans in receipt of Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence Related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) incapacity payments will automatically transition to MRCA incapacity payments on the date of commencement. 
  • Where the Repatriation Medical Authority updates a Statement of Principle between the veteran’s primary and reviewable decision, the version of the Statement which is most beneficial to the veteran’s circumstances will be applied.
  • Introduction of an instrument making power that will enable the Commission to determine circumstances where a veteran must receive financial advice before receiving a lump sum payment.

Under our changes, no veteran will see a reduction to their benefits.

Where a veteran is currently receiving benefits under an existing scheme, that will continue unaffected.

This year’s Federal Budget set aside an additional $222 million for veteran and family entitlements across the two years from commencement of this legislation.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Matt Keogh:

“We promised to act, and we have.

“This is a huge step forward for Australia’s veteran community and will benefit our current and former service personnel for generations to come.

“This legislation will ensure a better future for defence personnel, veterans and families.”

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24/7 free confidential crisis support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046 or the Open Arms websiteSafe Zone Support provides anonymous counselling on 1800 142 072Defence All-Hours Support Line provides support for ADF personnel on 1800 628 036 or the Defence Health PortalDefence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608

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