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Portfolio

The Veterans' Affairs portfolio is responsible for providing a range of programs of care, compensation, income support and commemoration for the veteran and defence force communities and their families.

Department and statutory commissions

This annual report covers the work of three entities in the Veterans' Affairs portfolio:

  • Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) — the primary agency responsible for developing and delivering programs and services that assist the veteran and defence force communities, in accordance with the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 and the War Graves Act 1980
  • Repatriation Commission — the policy body responsible for the administration of the VEA and its range of compensation and income support pensions, allowances and other health care services
  • Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) — the policy body responsible for the administration of the MRCA and the DRCA (as it relates to current and future ADF members and their families); the assistance provided under these Acts includes permanent impairment payments, incapacity payments, and health care and rehabilitation programs.

The Repatriation Commission and the MRCC are vested with broad powers to enable them to carry out their functions and duties. The Commissions also have specific powers to enter into contracts, deal with real or personal property, undertake building works and engage persons to perform services. The Commissions have no staff of their own; DVA staff are provided by the Secretary of the Department in order for the Commissions to perform their roles.

The provision of financial support in the form of pensions, allowances, benefits and treatment to veterans and their families is a responsibility of the Department but is overseen by the Commissions. The Commissions also assist in determining policy, identifying anomalies, considering whether matters should be appealed, advising the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and the Parliament, liaising with the veteran community, and collaborating with Defence, Comcare and other government agencies.

Under the VEA, the Secretary of DVA may be appointed as the President of the Repatriation Commission. By convention, the Secretary of the Department is appointed to this statutory role to ensure alignment of the functions and objectives of the Commissions and the Department. By virtue of the appointment as the President of the Repatriation Commission, the Secretary is also the Chair of the MRCC.

The Deputy President of the Repatriation Commission performs several roles for the Commissions and the Department. First, as a full-time member of the Repatriation Commission, the Deputy President participates in and contributes to all Repatriation Commission meetings. Under the provisions of the MRCA, the Deputy President is also a member of the MRCC. In addition, the Deputy President assists the Secretary in managing the Department.

The Services member, also known as the Repatriation Commissioner, is appointed by the Governor‑General (on advice from the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) from a list of names provided by the ex-service community. As Services member, the Commissioner has special responsibility for representing the views of that community in the Commission’s considerations. By convention the Commissioner is also appointed as a member of the MRCC.

The Repatriation Commissioner is a member of the executive management team of DVA and has a key role in managing the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service, the Applied Research Program, the National Consultative Forums, commemorative grants and commemorative activities.

Other portfolio entities

Several independent entities provide specialist oversight to assist in administering veterans' entitlements, while the Australian War Memorial plays a unique role in commemorations. More information on these separate entities, including annual reports on performance, is available from their websites.

Repatriation Medical Authority

The Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) is an independent statutory authority. Its 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.

More information about the RMA and the SOPs is available at Repatriation Medical Authority.

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 is available at Specialist Medical Reivew Council.

Veterans' Review Board

The Veterans' Review Board reviews certain decisions made under the VEA and the MRCA. More information is available at Veterans' Review Board.

Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial 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.

More information is available at Australian War Memorial.

Portfolio ministers

The portfolio is administered by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.

The Hon Darren Chester MP was appointed to the position of Minister for Veterans' Affairs on 5 March 2018.

During 2017–18, the position was also held by:

  • the Hon Michael McCormack MP, from 20 December 2017 to 5 March 2018
  • the Hon Dan Tehan MP, from 18 February 2016 to 20 December 2017.
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