The Veterans’ Affairs portfolio is made up of two agencies – the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Australian War Memorial – and several other organisations:
- Australian War Memorial
- Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission
- Office of Australian War Graves
- Repatriation Commission
- Repatriation Medical Authority
- Specialist Medical Review Council
- Veterans’ Children Education Boards
- Veterans’ Review Board.
Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial (AWM) was established as a corporation under the Australian War Memorial Act 1980. It operates within the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio as a discrete agency.
The AWM maintains and develops the national memorial to Australians who have died in wars or warlike operations. It also develops and maintains and exhibits a national collection of historical material, and conducts and fosters research into Australian military history.
The director is a statutory officer, directly responsible to the Council of the Australian War Memorial, which is responsible to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.
See further: Australian War Memorial website
Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission
The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) was established under section 361 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) when it received Royal Assent on 27 April 2004.
The MRCA provides compensation and other benefits for current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who suffer an injury or disease due to service on or after 1 July 2004. It also provides for the dependants of members whose deaths were the result of an injury or disease due to service on or after 1 July 2004.
The functions of the MRCC under the MRCA include:
- making determinations relating to the acceptance of liability for service related conditions, the payment of compensation and the provision of treatment and rehabilitation
- minimising the duration and severity of service related conditions and promoting the return to suitable work
- promoting research into the health of members and former members, the prevention of injury and disease, and rehabilitation and
- providing advice to the Ministers and departmental secretaries of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence, the Chief of the Defence Force and the service chiefs.
The MRCC also determines and manages claims relating to defence service under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA).
The MRCC has six members:
- the President of the Repatriation Commission – Mr Simon Lewis PSM;
- the Deputy President of the Repatriation Commission – Mr Craig Orme DSC AM CSC;
- Another member of the Repatriation Commission nominated by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs – Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC, currently Repatriation Commissioner;
- a person nominated by the Minister responsible for the SRCA – Ms Jennifer Taylor; and
- two people nominated by the Minister for Defence – Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM and Rear Admiral Brett Wolski AM.
Office of Australian War Graves
The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) has three distinct roles:
- to maintain war cemeteries and individual war graves within Australia and the region, as agents of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- to officially commemorate eligible veterans who have died post-war and whose deaths are accepted as being caused by war service
- to provide and maintain national memorials overseas.
The Director is a statutory officer responsible to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
See further: OAWG website
The Repatriation Commission is responsible under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) for granting pensions, allowances and other benefits, providing treatment and other services and generally administering the Act. The functions and powers of the Repatriation Commission are set out in sections 180 and 181 of the VEA.
The Repatriation Commission has three full-time members appointed by the Governor-General:
- President of the Commission and Secretary of the Department – Mr Simon Lewis PSM
- Deputy President – Mr Craig Orme DSC AM CSC
- Commissioner – Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC.
The Commissioner is chosen from nominees submitted to the Minister by organisations representing veterans.
Repatriation Medical Authority
The Repatriation Medical Authority (the Authority) is an independent statutory authority responsible to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. The Authority consists of five practitioners eminent in fields of medical science. The Authority determines ‘Statements of Principles’ in respect of particular kinds of injuries, diseases or death based on sound medical-scientific evidence detailing the factors which can connect the injuries, diseases or death with the circumstances of service in Australia’s military forces. The Statements of Principles are used for the purpose of determining claims for compensation under the VEA and MRCA.
See further: RMA website
Specialist Medical Review Council
The Specialist Medical Review Council is an independent statutory body that reviews the contents of a statement of principles or a decision of the Repatriation Medical Authority not to issue such a statement.
Veterans’ Children Education Boards
The Boards are responsible to the Repatriation Commission for administering the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES) in each state and territory.
Veterans’ Review Board
The Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) is an independent tribunal that reviews certain decisions of the Repatriation Commission and decisions made under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004. The Board was established by the Repatriation Legislation Amendment Act 1984 and began operating on 1 January 1985.
The Board may review two main classes of decision:
- 'entitlement' cases, where a claim for a pension other than a service pension was decided
- 'assessment cases, where the rate of pension payable for an accepted incapacity was assessed.
A veteran or other affected person may lodge an application for review if they are dissatisfied with a decision.
See further: VRB website