RSL Media Release – Veteran Funding Must be Demand-Driven and Not Victim of Budget and Election Cycles

The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) has called on the next Australian Government to commit to funding of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to a level sufficient to meet the needs of the Australian veteran community.

As well, this funding must be demand driven and not held prisoner to annual budgets or three-year election cycles.

On the eve of ANZAC Day and with a Federal Election pending, the RSL supports the policies and objectives of the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations put forward for the next term of government.

RSL Australia President Greg Melick said the provision of resources and funding to support veterans and the families of those who had served the country was a paramount government responsibility and should not be seen as a vote-winner or measure to simply placate a particular sector or demographic.

“The reality is that the demand for veteran services has risen dramatically, and it is the responsibility, indeed duty of the Australian Government to meet this demand,” Greg Melick said.

“Therefore, funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs must be provided to meet this rising demand and the services required by veterans and their families should not be dependant on annual budget allocations.

“Such a process would allow DVA to expand capacities in a timely manner rather than current stop-gap measures that have contributed to the unacceptable backlog in the processing of veteran claims.”

The RSL is also calling for urgent legislative reform covering the three main overlapping Acts dealing with veterans’ matters.

Greg Melick said a separate combined department working group should be established as a matter of urgency and sufficiently resourced to consider much-needed legislative change.

“The next Australian Government must also develop a strategic plan for the provision of funding for ex-service organisations and there should be more consultation between the Government, DVA and the ex-service organisations to avoid duplication and competition for money.

We appreciate the bipartisan approach to many issues but funding to support veterans, their families and these organisations is a national responsibility and should not just be one-off election promises to attract votes once every three years.

The current Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is providing a stark example of the clear need in this important area of veteran support.

“This is just one are and now is the time for action at the highest level to ensure all services are provided on the basis of need and demand,” Greg Melick said.

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National Media contact: Tony Harrison – 0417 318 178;  [email protected]