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Compensation and support

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The following section is a text version of the infographic.

Compensation and support

Maintaining and enhancing the quality of life of clients by improving their financial wellbeing and self-sufficiency.

In 2017–18

  • $7.4 billion was spent on compensation and income support services
  • 44,400 liability conditions were determined
  • 161,184 veterans and veterans' family members received income support
  • 53,641 homes were protected by Defence Service Homes Insurance

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Program 1.1:
Deliver income support and allowances
Income support provides a regular means-tested payment for eligible veterans and their dependants with limited means. While the veteran population is reducing in size, the activities undertaken within the program are becoming more complex due to the increasing sophistication of clients' personal financial arrangements and circumstances, which are reviewed regularly.
Program 1.2:
Deliver disability support
Provides compensation in the form of disability pensions and ancillary benefits to clients for the tangible effects of war or defence service.
Program 1.3:
Deliver assistance to Defence widow/ers and their dependants
The war widow/ers pension is part of a compensation package made in recognition of the special circumstances to compensate a widowed partner of a veteran, where there was a connection between the veteran's death and service, and eligible children are provided with financial support.
Program 1.4:
Deliver other compensation
Delivers other allowances and assistance to clients under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) and related legislation including home support loans, funeral benefits, prisoner of war ex gratia payments and payments on behalf of Commonwealth and allied countries. Assistance is also provided to the ex-service community via Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) grants and the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP).
Program 1.5:
Deliver the children's education scheme
Under the Veterans' Children Education Scheme and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme (MRCAETS), education allowances are paid to eligible children of ADF 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 students undertaking primary, secondary and tertiary full time study within Australia.
Program 1.6:
Deliver income support and compensation under DRCA and MRCA
Provides compensation to clients under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and related legislation. The DRCA (and MRCA for injuries since 1 July 2004) provides coverage for injured ADF members to support their return to health, work and independence. There is also compensation for eligible dependants, and MRCA health care and other ancillary benefits.

Achievements in 2017–18

Expanded entitlements

The extension of Gold Card eligibility and expansion of the health conditions covered by NLHC have helped to remove obstacles to veterans accessing the health care treatment they need.

Gold Card

On 1 July 2017, eligibility for a Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) Gold Card, which provides eligible persons with access to health services for all medical conditions, was extended to include:

  • Australian participants in the British nuclear tests conducted in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, or civilians present at the test sites
  • Australians who were part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan after the Second World War.

In 2017–18, 1,299 Gold Card claims were granted under the new entitlements.

Non-Liability Health Care

Through the NLHC program, DVA can pay for the treatment of certain physical and mental health conditions without the need for the conditions to be accepted as service related. The scope of NLHC has recently been expanded:

  • From 1 July 2017, as part of the 2017–18 Budget, the mental health coverage of NLHC was expanded to cover all mental health conditions. Previously, only five specific conditions were covered.
  • From 1 July 2018, as part of the 2018–19 Budget, NLHC will be expanded to include reservists who have rendered border protection or disaster relief service or have been involved in or witnessed a serious training accident.

As part of DVA's collaboration with Defence to improve support for Australian Defence Force (ADF) members transitioning to civilian life, the White Card on Discharge initiative was implemented in mid-2018. Under the initiative, transitioning members are issued a White Card, which entitles them to treatment for all mental health conditions under NLHC arrangements. The changes are aimed at making access to mental health treatment as easy as possible for former ADF members.

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Claims processing

As part of its commitment to providing services to veterans and their families in a more strategic, sustainable and efficient manner, the department improved the efficiency and timeliness of claims processing in 2017–18.

Streamlined processing

The department is streamlining processing to expedite new liability claims as part of the Veteran Centric Reform program. In 2017–18, streamlining was applied to claims for 40 health conditions that have high historical acceptance rates or can be accepted on the basis of known physical training activities in the ADF. Such claims are now processed with little or no investigation by delegates.

System improvements

Under the Improving Processing Systems Program, commenced in 2016–17, DVA has designed and built a single rehabilitation and compensation processing system to reduce the critical risk of failure for 18 heritage ICT systems.

The final major systems release occurred in June 2018. Around 85 per cent of rehabilitation and compensation claims types can now be processed in one system; the remaining 15 per cent are expected to be included in 2018–19.

In addition to improving claims processing times, the new system has added functionality, including integration with MyService and other initiatives under the Veteran Centric Reform program. For example, it has allowed DVA to move to automated correspondence which is more user-friendly and consistent, and easier to produce.

Timeliness

The Department's improved processes and systems have dramatically reduced claims processing times. For example:

  • the median time taken to process permanent impairment claims under the DRCA has decreased by 48 per cent, from 137 days to 71 days
  • the median time taken to process permanent impairment claims under the MRCA has decreased by 49 per cent, from 152 days to 78 days
  • the typical time taken to process NLHC claims has decreased by 93 per cent, from 18 days to 1.3 days.

Timeliness targets for all compensation and income support claims processing were achieved in 2017–18. More details are available in the annual performance statements and Appendix C.

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Rehabilitation

DVA implemented four new initiatives linked to rehabilitation support for veterans and their families in 2017–18:

  • the Family Support Package, commencing on 1 May 2018
  • the veteran payment, commencing on 1 May 2018
  • streamlined access to incapacity payments
  • the Accelerated Access to Rehabilitation pilot.

Work continued throughout the year on improvements to the rehabilitation operational model and communication with rehabilitation providers.

Family Support Package

The Family Support Package was developed in response to recommendation 19 of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee's 2017 report The constant battle: suicide by veterans.

The package assists veterans with warlike service on or after 1 July 2004 who meet the eligibility criteria under the MRCA, and their families, by funding additional child care and counselling support while the veteran is participating in a DVA rehabilitation program.

The package also provides child care, counselling and home help support to an eligible spouse/partner of a deceased veteran, to provide practical support while they are managing grief and loss in addition to their family responsibilities.

Veteran payment

The veteran payment provides immediate assistance for eligible veterans who have lodged a liability claim under the MRCA or the DRCA for a mental health condition and are unable to work for more than eight hours per week, and for their families.

The veteran payment is short term, and continues until the person's liability claims have been determined or incapacity payment (where eligible) has commenced.

DVA has also instituted safeguards to ensure that, in the event of liability not being accepted, the veteran is not left without support while seeking other forms of government assistance, such as payments from Centrelink, that they may be entitled to.

A total of 179 veterans and veterans' partners were granted veteran payment entitlements in 2017–18. As at 30 June 2018, 159 recipients, comprising 132 veterans and 27 partners were receiving payments.

Streamlined access to incapacity payments

Streamlined access to incapacity payments ensures that veterans with mental health conditions accepted under the MRCA are provided with income replacement compensation as soon as possible, should they be unable to continue to work due to their mental health conditions. This includes ongoing access (for up to 12 months) to rehabilitation services, which enable a smoother transition when veterans find themselves in and out of employment.

Accelerated Access to Rehabilitation pilot

The Accelerated Access to Rehabilitation pilot was developed to allow for a professional rehabilitation assessment and, where appropriate, early commencement of identified rehabilitation activities to help veterans to minimise the effects of injuries and illness while waiting for their claims for initial liability to be determined by DVA.

The pilot focused on enabling veterans and their families to access rehabilitation support in a timely manner. Early intervention is regarded as a best practice approach, as it facilitates participation in employment and community activities, improves quality of life, and focuses on beginning recovery from the earliest opportunity.

The pilot commenced in September 2017 and closed at the end of March 2018, and participants were drawn from locations across Australia. DVA is considering the outcomes to determine whether the service model could be further extended.

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Employment

The Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Program was launched in November 2016 to raise awareness among employers of the value and experience that ex-service personnel have to offer.

Through the program, the Department supports the Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment, which is developing initiatives to educate businesses about the value of employing veterans and to help them to recruit and retain veteran employees.

Two new measures were announced under the program in 2017–18:

  • Under an initiative of the committee, the Department will invite businesses to make a public commitment to the employment of veterans.
  • From 1 July 2020, additional support will be provided to veterans who are finding the transition to the civilian workforce challenging.

The inaugural Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Awards were held on 28 March 2018, to recognise organisations and individuals that have supported veterans' transition into the civilian workforce. A website has been established to provide information on the program and awards (www.veteransemployment.gov.au).

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Advocacy

The Advocacy Training and Development Program was developed by DVA in partnership with the ex-service organisation community and Defence to provide nationally accredited training for veterans' advocates.

The program enables advocates to learn on the job, under the guidance and support of a mentor. Additional online and face-to-face training is provided to assist advocates to consolidate their learning. Recognition of prior learning is available for practitioners who were trained under the Department's previous advocacy program.

Between the program's commencement, on 1 July 2016, and 30 June 2018, 496 advocates were accredited under the program. A further 121 people are studying under the program, and 168 people are awaiting accreditation through recognition of prior learning. A total of 424 advocates have undertaken mentoring training.

In December 2017, the Department published an online directory of ex-service organisations that offer accredited welfare and/or compensation advocates. In 2018–19, the directory will be replaced by a register with enhanced functionality.

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Defence Service Homes Insurance

Defence Service Homes Insurance (DSHI) improved its methodology for calculating premiums to ensure that they accurately reflect the insurance risk based on the geographical location of the property and how the home is constructed. This improved methodology matches premiums to risk and reduces cross-subsidisation.

In October 2017, a dedicated sales team with specialist training in sales was engaged to supplement existing staff, who handle policies and claims. The approach successfully increased uptake of DSHI coverage—30 per cent more policies were sold in 2017–18 than in 2016–17 — and enhanced the client experience.

DSHI also improved the experience by:

  • undertaking market research to better understand the needs of current and potential policyholders
  • streamlining its online interface to assist veterans and their families to estimate the appropriate sum insured for their property and reduce the time taken to process new policy applications.

In 2017–18, the DSHI monthly mail survey of 100 stakeholders achieved an average satisfaction level higher than 90 per cent, with a 65 per cent response rate. The survey was also made available online.

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Children's education schemes

The Department administers schemes that provide education allowances, special assistance, student support services, guidance and counselling for eligible children of veterans undertaking primary, secondary and tertiary full-time study within Australia.

In 2017–18, the Department conducted a formal survey to assess the quality of its education schemes. Feedback from respondents in relation to service delivery was positive, with a high percentage indicating that the assistance provided through the education schemes had been effective in assisting students to reach their full academic potential.

Online lodgement capability and a new processing platform were introduced for education payments for veterans' children as part of DVA's Veteran Centric Reform in 2017–18.

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Priorities for 2018–19

In the year ahead:

  • The department will introduce changes to ensure that incapacity payment is calculated on 100 per cent of the veteran's normal earnings, for veterans undertaking full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan.
  • The department will aim to add further health conditions to its streamlined processing arrangements, and will continue to improve the claims process and timeliness of claims processing.
  • The department will commence a strategic review of grants programs to address recommendation 20 of The constant battle: suicide by veterans.
  • The department will assist the Productivity Commission with its inquiry into the system of compensation and rehabilitation for military veterans (serving and ex-serving ADF members).
  • The department will conduct a review of the use of medico-legal firms for compensation claim assessments.
  • An independent review will be conducted into the mental health impacts of claims assessment processes on veterans and their families.
  • The Veterans' Advocacy and Support Services Scoping Study, which is independently investigating how veterans and their families are assisted to access entitlements and services, is expected to recommend a model to the Australian Government in December 2018.
  • DSHI will develop a marketing strategy to position it as the insurer of choice for eligible serving and former ADF personnel and their families.
  • DSHI will continue to improve its pricing methodology to ensure that policyholders pay a fair and correct premium for their risk, and will enhance its communication with veterans and their families by offering the option of electronic delivery of renewal notices and correspondence.
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