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The Hon. Stuart Robert MP

The Hon. Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Minister for Human Services

I’m delighted to have been appointed as the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Human Services and also the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC.

As a graduate of ADFA and RMC and someone with Peacekeeping service, it is humbling to have been given the task of caring for our veterans and ex-service personnel. Likewise, it is an honour to be a steward of our nation’s war time history and to ensure those who gave their all for our country are not forgotten.

At the outset let me assure you that despite my responsibilities for both Veterans’ Affairs and Human Services, the Government will not be merging these two departments.

Military service is unique and the provision of assistance and support to those who have served is best provided by a standalone department that understands the unique circumstances and conditions of veterans and ex-service personnel.

I have six priorities for veterans’ affairs over the next 12 months:

People focussed – historically, the first interaction someone has with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is through lodging a claim. Up to this point you are not known to DVA and the claims process typically takes longer than it should at a time when you can least afford it. Ultimately, it is my intent to transform DVA from a ‘claims focused’ organisation into a ‘client focused’ organisation and to ensure that from the day you join the Australian Defence Force you also begin your engagement with DVA.

Improve computer systems – so much of what we do relies on these systems; however, it is apparent that to better support you these systems must be updated. Better computer systems will mean faster resolution of issues and fewer errors when processing claims and making payments. New systems will also enable DVA to interact with younger veterans through new means, for example on mobile devices – we have to use the technology you’re using.

Reducing claim times – while processing times have dropped from an average of 144 days to 109 days, claim times can be further reduced by ensuring DVA’s computer systems are up to the task and streamlining the claims process, particularly between Commonwealth agencies.

Transition – I want to continue the good work done to date by both DVA and the Department of Defence in helping military personnel transition from service life to civilian life. My focus will be on ensuring our younger sailors, soldiers, airmen and women are provided with the means to seamlessly transition from service life to civilian life, with particular emphasis on reducing their administrative burden.

Rehabilitation – I want to see those who can work – return to work, with the continued support of DVA to ensure they are cared for throughout the rehabilitation process. The objective of providing support should be to rehabilitate those wounded, injured or ill veterans and ex-service personnel so they can resume a normal productive working life.

Mental Health – I remain absolutely committed to ensuring a range of significant resources are available to support ex-serving military personnel with mental health conditions, as well as support for their families.

Those ex-service personnel with mental health conditions will continue to be given priority when claiming through DVA and the funding for veteran mental health treatments will remain demand driven and not capped.

Finally, I would like to thank you all for what you have done for our country – for those who have served as veterans, thank you. For the war widows and all of those working in the ex-service community, thank you. I’m looking forward to serving you.

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