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Carers' Booklet

Carers' booklet - assistance for the veteran community

This booklet has been developed to assist carers. It provides information about specific services available through DVA as well as general information about services available in the community.

In this booklet:


A carer is someone who gives up their time to look after another person who is unable to care completely for themselves. A carer may be a wife, husband, partner, daughter or son, other relative or friend.

Caring is a physically, emotionally and financially demanding role for many carers.  It is important for carers to also look after their own physical and emotional health by paying attention to good nutrition and making the time for daily exercise and recreation.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) recognises the important role carers play in providing valuable support and help to veterans and war widows and widowers who are unable to care for themselves. The care many veterans and war widows and widowers provide to others is also valued by DVA.

This booklet has been developed by DVA to assist carers.  It provides information about specific services available through DVA as well as general information about services available in the community.

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Assistance from DVA

Veterans' Home Care

The Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) Program provides a range of home care services for eligible veterans and war widows and widowers. A VHC assessment agency will assess the need for home care services and, based on that assessment, services such as domestic assistance, personal care, limited home and garden maintenance and respite care may be provided. The VHC assessment agency may also provide referrals, with the person’s consent, to other government programs and community agencies that are best placed to meet specific needs.

All veterans of the Australian defence forces who are holders of Gold and White Cards and their war widows and widowers are eligible to be assessed for VHC services. Commonwealth and Allied veterans who have White Cards may be assessed for respite care where it relates to their accepted disabilities.

To arrange a VHC assessment: 1300 550 450 (local call)

For general enquiries: DVA phone numbers

Visit the Veterans Home Care Website

Respite Care

Respite care is when a substitute carer provides relief for a person’s normal carer on an emergency or planned basis. It gives the regular carer a chance for some much needed rest and relaxation.

When possible, it is a good idea to plan respite care well in advance to help carers get the substitute care when and where they need it.

Respite care may be provided in different ways depending on the individual situation. Care may be provided:

  • in a residential aged care facility
  • as emergency respite care in the home

Respite is also available in community-based day programs or facilities, such as day clubs. These programs are not funded directly by DVA.

Veterans' Home Care is the first point of contact for members of the veteran community requiring respite care

Respite through Veterans' Home Care

DVA provides for residential and in-home respite including Emergency Short Term Home Relief (ESTHR) through the VHC program. Approval, based on assessed need by VHC, should be obtained to access this respite care. VHC staff will then discuss respite options and assist in determining the best balance between in-home and residential respite. An assessment for VHC respite can be arranged by phoning 1300 550 450.

Eligibility for DVA Respite Care

You are eligible to be assessed for respite care through VHC if you have a Gold Card or White Card and are:

  • an Australian veteran or mariner;
  • a war widow or widower;
  • a dependant of an Australian veteran or mariner; or
  • a partner or carer of an entitled person.

Australian participants in the British Nuclear Tests Program who have a White Card may be eligible to receive residential respite if it relates to the treatment of cancer.

To arrange a VHC assessment: 1300 550 450

Financial Assistance for DVA Respite Care

In any one financial year, DVA may pay for up to 28 days (196 hours) of in-home or residential respite care, or a combination of both. Seven hours in-home respite is equivalent to one day in a residential respite facility. Any additional costs, such as pharmaceutical items, telephone calls or additional days will have to be met by the veteran or war widow or widower.

Respite in a Residential Aged Care Facility

Any person, not just a veteran or a war widow or widower, who has been assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team as requiring respite care in a residential facility, can access up to 63 days respite care per financial year. DVA will pay the basic daily care fee for up to 28 of the 63 days when the person entering residential respite care is a Gold or White Card holder. After 28 days, the veteran, war widow or war widower is responsible for paying the basic daily care fee.

Australian Former Prisoners of War and Victoria Cross Veterans

DVA pays the basic daily care fee for up to 63 days (or such further period as is permitted under the Residential Care Subsidy Principles) for former Prisoners of War and Victoria Cross veterans who receive respite care in an approved residential facility.

In-Home Respite Care

In-home respite care can be arranged for a few hours on a regular basis or for several days at a time. It can be used by veterans and war widows or widowers who are carers themselves (ie caring for another person) as well as by carers of veterans and war widows or widowers.

Emergency Short Term Home Relief

Emergency short term home relief (ESTHR) is respite care provided to veterans and war widows and widowers. ESTHR offers episodes of up to three days (72 hours) of continuous emergency care, such as when the carer is suddenly or unexpectedly unable to continue providing care. Funding of ESTHR is separate from, and does not affect, the 28-day in-home or residential respite. A cap of nine days (216 hours) in any financial year applies to ESTHR.

If ESTHR is needed outside business hours, local Commonwealth Carer Respite Centres provide an after-hours emergency telephone service that links carers to local emergency respite services. Click here for Information about Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres.

Convalescent Care

Convalescent care may be available to an eligible veteran in an institution for up to 21 days during any financial year following a period of acute illness or surgery.

Aids and Appliances

A range of equipment is available through the Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP) to help eligible members of the veteran community minimise the impact of disabilities and assist them in caring for themselves and undertaking everyday activities. The aids and appliances range from mobility aids such as walking frames and wheelchairs, to continence products and visual aids. Specialists, such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and nurses, assess a person’s clinical need for aids and appliances available through RAP. Home modifications can be undertaken where they are clearly justified on medical grounds. This can include modifying entrances and bathrooms. A local doctor or other relevant health professional can arrange a referral to RAP.

Attendant Allowance

An attendant allowance may be paid to eligible veterans under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) who suffer from specific service-related disabilities and as a result, require continuous and permanent assistance for everyday activities such as dressing, feeding, bathing and toileting. This allowance is available where a veteran is living at home or in a community setting and is not being cared for at public expense.

Community Nursing

Community nursing services are available to eligible veterans and war widows and widowers to meet assessed clinical and/or personal care needs on referral from a general practitioner, treating doctor or specialist in hospital, hospital discharge planner, nurse practitioners or Veterans’ Home Care assessment agency. Services are provided by a contracted community nursing organisation in the person’s home. Community nursing helps restore or maintain the optimal level of health and independence of the individual.

Contracted community nursing organisations use a mix of registered nurses, enrolled nurses and nursing support staff, as clinically appropriate, in the delivery of services. The community nursing organisation bills DVA directly for its services.

Recreational Transport Allowance

This allowance provides financial assistance to veterans for transport for recreational purposes. It may be payable to veterans who have specific severe disabilities accepted as service-related. The rate payable is determined by the individual veteran’s accepted disabilities.

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS)

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) is a specialised, free, confidential Australia-wide service for Australian veterans and their families. VVCS staff are professionally qualified, with skills in working with a range of problems faced by veterans and their families. They can also provide a wide range of programs and treatment for war and service-related mental health conditions.

  • For more information see the VVCS home page or free call 1800 011 046*.

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There is a range of other helpful resources available to veterans, war widows and widowers and their carers.

DVA Publications

These publications are free of charge to veterans, war widows and widowers and their carers and are available from DVA State Offices and VAN Offices.

Other DVA Resources

Cooking for One or Two

The Cooking for One or Two programme is a five session cooking skills programme that was originally designed for men aged 65 years and over, who lived alone or cooked for only one or two people and were members of the veteran community. However, the programme has evolved; it is now designed to enable any Australian community group or individual to use it. In each of the five new sessions the group cooks a delicious, easy, quick and nourishing two course meal, including a main and dessert. It is not a cooking demonstration, but an opportunity for participants to develop their cooking skills in a supportive environment. The group then enjoys the meal together. A healthy lifestyle discussion is included in each session to complement the healthy cooking and eating lesson learned.

Keeping YOU safe in the rider's seat

This resource addresses many of the safety issues surrounding the purchase and use of motorised scooters and electric wheelchairs as pedestrian movers. It provides information that will assist in the decision making process before purchase as well as the use, storage and maintenance of scooters.

Planning Ahead

This resource will encourage and assist you in putting family affairs in order and keeping your personal papers up to date. Topics covered include making a will, power of attorney, death and bereavement and benefits and assistance available through DVA.

The Right Mix: Your Health and Alcohol

The Right Mix has something for anyone interested in a healthy lifestyle. There’s simple information about standard drinks, facts about alcohol and medication, as well as sleep and health conditions. If you want to find out how to start making changes to your drinking behaviour or where to go for help, please call your local VAN Office or your State Office for information on The Right Mix or visit the Right Mix website.

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Assistance from other Agencies

My Aged Care

My Aged Care was established by the Australian Government to help older people navigate the aged care system more easily. My Aged Care provides reliable information and access to aged care services throughout Australia. 

This service provides information for older people, their families and carers, those already receiving aged care services and those looking to receive aged care services.

The My Aged Care contact centre staff may talk to you about whether you are a veteran or war widow, and you can talk to them about being referred for veteran-specific services administered by DVA, if required.

For further information visit the My Aged Care website or call 1800 200 422 (Mon-Fri 8am - 8pm, Sat 10am - 2pm), from any location within Australia.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) commenced on 1 July 2015 through to 31 October 2015. The CHSP consolidates a number existing programme that provides entry-level home support for older people who need assistance with daily activities to keep them living independently at home and in their community. Carers of these clients will also benefit from services provided through the CHSP.

The CHSP will bring together the following existing government programmes:

  • Commonwealth HACC Programme (except in Victoria and Western Australia)
  • National Respite for Carers Programme (NRCP)
  • Day Therapy Centres (DTC) Programme
  • Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA) Programme. 

For more information see the CHSP on the My Aged Care website.

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres

Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres provide free and confidential information on local carer support, disability and community services.

Centres are located throughout Australia and you can contact your nearest Centre by phoning 1800 052 222* or visit the My Aged Care website

When you contact a Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre, the staff will discuss your situation with you, and give you information about the local services available or those you may benefit from.

There are a wide range of services to support carers, but finding out about them or accessing them can be time consuming, difficult and confusing. Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres can help by providing a single point of contact for the general public, service providers, general practitioners and other health professionals for information on carer support, disability and community services.

When carers need to take a break from caring, Centres can also help to arrange respite. They do this by providing carers with information and organising, purchasing, or managing respite care assistance packages for carers. Examples of respite care assistance include in-home respite care; support workers to assist you when you are taking a break away from home; and residential respite care.

Centres are operated by organisations that already provide services in their region. The wide range of organisations includes community based, religious, charitable, private, and local and State government providers. Centres are also able to link you to other organisation and service providers in your area to help you find the support that you need. 


Carer Allowance

This is a supplementary payment available to carers looking after a person at home who requires constant care or supervision. It is not income or assets tested and is non-taxable. Carer Allowance can be paid in addition to a Centrelink or DVA income support payment.

Carer Payment

Carer Payment is an income support payment for carers who, because of the demands of their caring role, are unable to support themselves through full-time work. The carer does not need to live with the person they are caring for to be eligible, but must be providing care on a daily basis. This payment is income and assets tested, both for the carer and the person in care. The carer cannot receive Carer Payment in addition to another pension from Centrelink or DVA.

For more information including current rates, call Centrelink on 132 717 (local call) or visit the Human Services website.

  • 132 717 (local call)

Further information on financial assistance and other support for carers can also be found on the Department of Social Services website.

Carers Australia

In each State and Territory there is a carers’ association working to bring the needs, views and concerns of carers to the attention of the community, including government, policy makers, health professionals and service providers. They also undertake carer support services, education and training and research and policy development. For more information visit the Carers Australia website.

  • 1800 242 636* (free call).

Alzheimer’s Australia

Alzheimer’s Australia provides a comprehensive range of free counselling, education, support and information services for people with dementia, their families and carers. The Association works to raise community awareness of dementia and supports local and national research into Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

For more information visit Alzehimer’s Australia website.

  • 1800 100 500*

Beyond Blue

Depression in the elderly can be a very serious condition affecting physical health, mobility and relationships. The beyondblue Older Adults program works to improve the mental health of older Australians by raising awareness of depression and anxiety and overcoming barriers to care within the context of the needs of an ageing population.

For more information visit the beyondblue website.

  • 1300 224 636*

Palliative Care Australia

Palliative care provides relief to a terminally ill person through symptom and pain management and attention to mental health and spiritual needs. The goal is to provide comfort and maintain the highest possible quality of life. Palliative care also offers bereavement support services.

Contact your general practitioner, local hospital, community health centre or your local branch of Palliative Care Australia for more information or visit the Palliative Care website.

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

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Quick Reference Guide

DVA Support
Support Contact numbers
Aids and Appliances (RAP) Phone: 1800 555 254 *
Attendant Allowance Phone: 1800 555 254 *
Community Nursing Phone: 1800 555 254 *
Community Day Clubs Phone: 1800 555 254 *
Convalescent Care Phone: 1800 555 254 *
Recreational Transport Allowance Phone: 1800 555 254 *
Veterans’ Home Care:
1300 550 450
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) 1800 011 046 *
Assistance provided by other agencies
Agencies Contact numbers
My Aged Care 1800 200 422 * 
Alzheimer’s Australia 1800 100 500 *
Carers Australia 1800 242 636 (free call)
Centrelink 132 717 * 
Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres 1800 052 222 *
National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 *


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