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Submissions sought for advocacy and support study

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An independent study is investigating how veterans and their families are assisted to access entitlements and services.

The Veterans’ Advocacy and Support Services Scoping Study is being led by Mr Robert Cornall AO, former Chair of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.

Veterans’ advocacy services provide advice and information about a range of entitlements, benefits and support available from DVA, other government agencies and community-based service providers.

Advocates can help with submitting an initial liability claim through to assisting with an appeal to the Veterans’ Review Board or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Most advocacy and support services are provided by ex-service organisations through volunteer advocates, although a small number of paid advocates are employed by their organisations.

Two parliamentary committees have recommended changes to the current advocacy system, including in the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee report, The Constant Battle: Suicide by Veterans.

The aim of the advocacy study is to recommend a modern, professional and sustainable advocacy service for veterans and their families, so they have:

  • a sustainable, consistent and reliable advocacy service which is scalable based on demand;
  • an efficient and effective service to assist them to access their entitlements so they can focus on more important things, such as rehabilitation and their civilian life;
  • a level of service which, at a minimum, is comparable in quality and value with other cohorts accessing government entitlements;
  • a service based on their needs, irrespective of age, and which adequately protects their interests; and
  • if their claim is not accepted, access to advice on why it was unsuccessful and options for appeal.

The veteran, ex-service and Defence communities are being widely consulted as part of the study, including younger veterans, female veterans and veterans’ families.

The study is seeking the views of other relevant stakeholders, including from the legal, community, health and disability sectors, and will consider comparable overseas advocacy services for veterans.

Submissions from the ex-service and wider community are welcome and a discussion paper is available online to assist in preparing submissions. The closing date for submissions is 31 July 2018.

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