RETURNED VETERANS AND SERVING DEFENCE PERSONNEL
We propose that a National Council of organisations representing ex-service and serving defence personnel be established. This Council should meet at least four times per year to supply advice and opinion to Defence and Veterans ministers and their departmental chiefs. Our policy objectives are:
- The re-assessment of what determines war service to be addressed by the newly appointed council and any findings adopted by Parliament.
- The re-definition of clinical determination as to any service caused disabilities or trauma, including a health study into each veteran’s health needs and the effect on their family. Enhancement of special services to deal with suicide prevention.
- Increase of white card entitlements to bring them in line with other compensation providers.
- Streamlining of procedures to issue Gold Card and other health benefits, and eliminating the adversarial nature of the current system.
Across the board benefit upgrade and taxation
- We will support the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, RSL, the Young Diggers, and other veterans associations that represent the needs of veterans with counseling and other essential services. As part of our support we will provide funds to train more counselors, set up veterans retreats, and support for disabled and ill veterans with home help services, etc.
- Any lump sum payment for injury while in service should be tax-free and have no effect on future pensions or income.
- Service personnel should have the option to transfer any superannuation benefits to another superannuation fund upon retirement / discharge from service.
- Superannuation should be tax exempt in line with standard practice and remain tax-exempt from the recipient’s date of discharge.
- All service superannuation to include a self funded death benefit starting at $50,000 and indexed yearly to CPI during the self-contribution term: The beneficiary being nominated by the holder.
- Return all veterans services back to the control of the Armed Forces.
- Reintroduction of all benefits that have been removed by successive Government. e.g. The reintroduction of the repatriation hospital day care program that existed between 1998 and 2005.
- Replace the War Service Home Loan Scheme with an Armed Service Home Loan Scheme, one only per individual, with a maximum interest rate of 3%. Loan repayments to be made at a fixed rate and allow for the early payout of the home loan without penalty.
- Allow equity loans for home improvements also at 3%. The Department of Defense shall maintain a scheme for yards and perform home maintenance for aged and disabled ex-service persons who are deemed physically incapable of doing so themselves. These services shall be available to ex-service persons at 1/3 of market rates.
- Scrap the war widows pension and replace it with a Veterans Widow/Widowers Pension which is tax exempt while retaining the Widow/Widowers normal aged pension entitlements.
- Ensure top priority and preference to be given to ex-servicemen and women in their employment applications.
- Ensure the right to conditional gun ownership, as well as the right to bear arms for self, family and property protection. Licenses and applications subject to qualification safeguards only after a citizen has completed a minimum 2 years military or National Service that includes instruction on weapons handling and safe storage.
- Ensure that Government employees treat ex-service men and women with the utmost respect.
- Where a device is required to provide mobility or life support to the veteran, the repair of such device shall be free of cost to the veteran and it shall be repaired and returned promptly from the repair centre to the user. If a device is essential to a veteran’s life a replacement device shall be provided until their own device is repaired.
- Provide reasonably priced rental homes specially equipped with wheelchair access, larger bedrooms and bathrooms with non-slip flooring to cater for disabled ex-servicemen and women.
Access to Veterans Benefits
CIRNow believes that the onus of proof in determining access to Veterans Benefits lies with the Government. It is the Government for instance who should prove that it has provided the duty of care applicable to the lessening of dangers faced by servicemen at home or abroad in the course of their duties – not vice versa!
The fact that Australia has not declared war against another country shall no longer be accepted as a valid reason or excuse for refusing to allow benefits to servicemen who have served in a foreign country. Service personnel acting in the service of this country or who have been assigned in any way to work in another capacity (e.g. part of a United Nations Policing Body), then those people are still part of Australia’s Defence Service in the event of injury or damages of any sort. The servicemen remain eligible at all times at home or overseas for the full range of Service Benefits and recognition provided by this Country.
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