Programme 1.5 provides financial assistance to eligible students under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES), and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme (MRCAETS) to assist with their education needs.
Under the VCES and MRCAETS (the Schemes), education allowances are paid to eligible children of Australian Defence Force members who have died or been severely injured as a result of service.
The Schemes provide financial assistance, student support services, guidance and counselling for eligible children to help them achieve their full potential in education and career training. They cater for children undertaking primary, secondary and tertiary study and are normally provided only for full-time study within Australia.
|2013–14 PBS ($M)||ESTIMATED ACTUAL 2013–14 ($M)||OUTCOME 2013–14 ($M)|
PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements
The Department will:
- process new claims under VCES and MRCAETS
- deliver financial assistance and allowances to eligible students
- support eligible students to meet their educational/career training outcomes.
|2013–14 PBS||ESTIMATED ACTUAL 2013–14||OUTCOME 2013–14|
|Quantity: Number of primary students receiving assistance||715||672||723|
|Quantity: Number of secondary students receiving assistance||1,404||991||995|
|Quantity: Number of tertiary students receiving assistance||897||961||835|
PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements
Key performance indicators
|2013–14 PBS1||ESTIMATED ACTUAL 2013–14||OUTCOME 2013–14|
N/A = not applicable; PBS = Portfolio Budget Statements
1 Further to the ANAO’s recommendations, additional performance measures for the Schemes were introduced in 2013–14. The measures were not available for the 2013–14 or 2014–15 PBSs.
Report on performance
Over recent years there has been a small but consistent annual decline in the number of students supported by the Schemes. The total number of eligible students in receipt of an education allowance decreased from 2,726 students at 30 June 2013 to 2,543 students at 30 June 2014.
The number of students receiving assistance fluctuates over the course of an academic year for the following reasons:
- Some students finish their courses mid-year (TAFE and university courses)
- Commencing students can become eligible at different times throughout the year
- Course commencement and cessation dates vary depending on the course type and duration
- Some students commence full-time work and cease to study or vice versa.
In response to the April 2013 Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) performance audit report, Audit Report No.29 2012–13, Administration of the Veterans’ Children Education Schemes, DVA has reviewed aspects of its administration of the Schemes. A number of actions recommended by the ANAO were completed in 2013–14. All remaining recommendations are expected to be completed by 30 June 2015.
Based on a recommendation related to the Schemes’ administrative arrangements, DVA completed a comprehensive review of the Schemes’ administrative practice in May 2014 and issued a revised procedures manual to all staff involved in administering the Schemes. DVA’s evaluation of the Schemes’ overall performance is expected to be finalised in late 2014.
The ANAO also encouraged DVA to ensure that the Schemes align with changes to broader social policy. Accordingly, DVA has progressed legislative amendments to the Schemes’ instruments (in particular to align the Schemes with Youth Allowance policy, administered by the Department of Human Services), where appropriate.
In consultation with the Schemes’ Education Boards, DVA has also enhanced the Schemes’ key performance indicators to better measure performance against the three service delivery areas: financial assistance, student support services, and guidance and counselling.
An annual, voluntary survey has also been introduced to better measure participants’ satisfaction with the support and services provided to them under the Schemes. In June 2014, 89 per cent of survey respondents rated the level of service they received in relation to the Schemes as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, and 87 per cent of respondents reported that they believed the support provided had been ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’ in assisting students to reach their academic potential.
Survey respondents were invited to provide contact details if they wanted DVA staff to speak with them about any concerns they had with the Schemes. Twenty-seven (25 per cent) of the 107 respondents, provided their details and 13 respondents asked for further information about the range of assistance available under the Schemes.
In its report, the ANAO commented on some inconsistency in DVA’s approach to obtaining and maintaining the currency of Working with Children checks for the Schemes’ staff and Education Board members. DVA has completed work on meeting the requirements for working with children. Working with Children checks have been completed for all ongoing board members and are now a prerequisite for new board members.
The ANAO also commented that DVA should improve awareness of the Schemes in the eligible population. DVA has taken a number of actions to improve awareness of the Schemes’ benefits among the veteran community, including by revising information about the Schemes on the DVA website and in articles highlighting different aspects of the Schemes.
Long Tan Bursary Scheme
The Long Tan Bursary Scheme was established in 2000 in response to the findings of the Vietnam Veterans Health (Morbidity) Study. Since then, bursaries have been available to the children of Vietnam veterans who have Australian residency status and who are enrolled or plan to enrol in post-secondary education in Australia.
The scheme is administered by the Australian Veterans’ Children Assistance Trust on behalf of DVA.
Bursaries up to $9,000 each are awarded over a three-year period. Recipients receive their first bursary payment once acceptance of the award is notified, usually in March.
In 2013–14, 65 applications from eligible students were received. From this group, 41 bursaries were awarded for courses as diverse as engineering, science, law, journalism, education and nursing.
There is further information about the scheme on the DVA website at www.dva.gov.au/commems_oawg/commemorations/education.