The Veterans’ Affairs portfolio is responsible for providing a range of programmes of care, compensation, income support and commemoration for the veteran and defence force communities and their families. The portfolio is administered by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and has four key entities.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
DVA is the primary service delivery agency responsible for developing and implementing programmes that assist the veteran and defence force communities. DVA also provides policy advice, administrative support and staff for the Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.
The Department also administers other legislation, including the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 and the War Graves Act 1980. The full list of legislation DVA administers can be found at www.dva.gov.au/aboutDVA/Pages/legislation.aspx.
The Repatriation Commission is the policy body responsible for the administration of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) and its range of compensation and income support pensions, allowances and other healthcare services. The functions and powers of the Repatriation Commission are set out in sections 180 and 181 of the VEA. The three-member Repatriation Commission comprises statutory officers based in the Department.
Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission
The MRCC is the policy body responsible for the administration of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) (as it relates to current and future Australian Defence Force members and their families). The programmes provided under these Acts include permanent impairment payments, incapacity payments, and healthcare and rehabilitation programmes. The MRCC comprises the three members of the Repatriation Commission and three additional members: one nominated by the Minister for Employment and two nominated by the Minister for Defence.
Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is a discrete agency within the portfolio that maintains and develops the national memorial to Australians who have died in wars or warlike operations. It also develops, maintains and exhibits a national collection of historical material, and conducts and fosters research into Australian military history.
The War Memorial reports on its activities in its own annual report tabled separately. Its website address is www.awm.gov.au.
A number of other entities in the portfolio support the work of the Commissions.
Repatriation Medical Authority
The Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) consists of a panel of five practitioners eminent in fields of medical science. Their role is to determine Statements of Principles (SOPs) for any disease, injury or death that could be related to military service, based on sound medical–scientific evidence. SOPs are binding on decision-makers or review bodies determining liability for compensation under the VEA or MRCA.
The RMA reports on its activities in its own annual report, which is tabled separately. The report and the SOPs are available on the RMA’s website at www.rma.gov.au.
Specialist Medical Review Council
The Specialist Medical Review Council (SMRC) reviews the RMA’s decisions on SOPs and directs or recommends that the RMA amend the SOPs. The SMRC consists of eminent medical practitioners and medical scientists appointed as councillors by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and selected by the Convenor of the SMRC on the basis of their expertise in the injury or disease relevant to the SOPs being reviewed. More information about current and past reviews can be found at www.smrc.gov.au.
Veterans’ Review Board
The Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) is an independent tribunal that reviews certain decisions made under the VEA and the MRCA. The VRB reports on its activities in its own annual report, tabled separately. Its website address is www.vrb.gov.au.
Office of Australian War Graves
The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG):
- acts as the agent of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Australian region
- commemorates Australian war dead for conflicts other than the world wars
- commemorates veterans who die post-war of causes related to conflict
- establishes and maintains official Australian memorials overseas.
OAWG activities are reported in Programme 3.1 of the DVA annual report. Its website is part of the DVA domain at www.dva.gov.au/commems_oawg/OAWG.
Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme
The Defence Service Homes Insurance Scheme offers home building insurance and, in partnership with QBE Australia, provides a range of other insurance to eligible members of the veteran and ADF communities.
DSH Insurance activities are reported in Programme 1.4 of the DVA annual report. Its website address is www.dsh.gov.au.