- DVA Health Cards
- Access to medical and health care providers
- Community Nursing
- Respite care
- Health care overseas
- DVA Health Card - For Pharmaceuticals Only (Orange Card)
- Mental health and counselling
This chapter is about the range of health support services available to you, including information about the DVA Health Cards, access to medical and health care providers, respite care, health care overseas, pharmaceutical services and mental health counselling.
There are different levels of eligibility for treatment benefits. If you are eligible, a Gold or a White DVA Health Card entitles you to the services provided under the Repatriation Health Care system at DVA’s expense.
The Gold Card - ‘DVA Health Card - All Conditions within Australia’ or ‘DVA Health Card – Totally & Permanently Incapacitated’ gives you access to a wide range of public and private health care services at DVA expense, for the treatment of all your health care conditions whether war or service related or not.
The White Card - ‘DVA Health Card - Specific Conditions’ gives access to a wide range of public and private health care services at DVA expense for the treatment of specific health care conditions. This can be for either:
- specific disabilities and conditions accepted by DVA as war or service related; or
- specific conditions accepted by DVA whatever the cause. These arrangements are also known as ‘non-liability health care’ and conditions covered are:
- cancer(malignant neoplasia);
- pulmonary tuberculosis;
- anxiety disorder;
- depressive disorder.
Elsewhere in this guide, the conditions are referred to as 'special conditions'.
Veterans, members of the defence forces, or peacekeepers may also receive treatment for any unidentifiable condition that arises within 15 years of an eligible period of service. Treatment is provided until a determination is made about the nature of the condition and its relationship to service. Treatment will continue if the condition is service related.
You should present your Gold or White Card whenever you attend a health care provider.
If you lose your card
If your card is lost, stolen or damaged you should contact your nearest DVA office immediately so your card can be reissued. In the 3-4 weeks for your replacement card to arrive, your health provider may phone DVA to confirm your eligibility and entitlements.
Who is eligible for a Gold Card?
A Gold Card is issued under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act 1986 to veterans of the Australian Defence Forces who:
- receive service pension; and are within treatment income and assets limits; or
permanently blind in both eyes;
- are aged 70 or over with qualifying service;
- receive a disability pension
at or above 100% of the general rate; or
at or above 50% of the general rate and any amount of service pension;
- are ex-prisoners of war;
- receive an allowance for specific service-related amputations or blindness.
A Gold Card is also issued to recipients of the war widow's or war widower’s pension.
A Gold Card is issued to those eligible for treatment under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) if:
- a former member or entitled serving member has permanent impairment from accepted conditions assessed at or above 60 points;
- a former member or entitled serving member meets the criteria for the Special Rate Disability Pension safety net payment (SRDP) (even if they don’t choose to take it); or
- a wholly dependent partner or dependent child of a member is eligible for compensation for the member’s death.
- IS15 Health Care Eligibility for Service Pensioners
- HSV60 Using the DVA Health Card All Conditions (Gold) or DVA Health Card Totally & Permanently Incapacitated (Gold)
Are there any limits or restrictions?
Yes, there are limits that apply to some services. For example, medical services are subject to the requirements of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Some treatments require prior financial authorisation from DVA. Your Gold Card can only be used within Australia. These cards are not accepted by health providers outside Australia.
Who is eligible for a White Card?
A White Card is issued to veterans of the Australian Defence Forces who have an accepted disability. You do not have to be in receipt of an income support pension or disability pension to be issued with a White Card. Veterans of British, Commonwealth and allied forces may also be issued with a White Card for disabilities accepted as war caused by their governments. DVA can also pay for certain mental health and other conditions whatever the cause under ‘non-liability health care’ arrangements.
- IS160 Overview of Cards Available to Veterans and their Dependants
- HSV61 DVA Health Card - Specific Conditions (White)
Gold Card and White Card holders
If you have a Gold Card, or a White Card for an accepted disability or special condition, you can access general medical, dental and optometry services without a referral.
With a current referral from your local medical officer, general practitioner, medical specialist, treating doctor in hospital, discharge planner or equivalent allied health provider, you also have access to:
- physiotherapists, occupational therapists, osteopaths and chiropractors;
- clinical psychologists, psychologists, mental health social workers and mental health occupational therapists;
- speech pathologists; and
- hearing services.
Services will only be provided to meet your clinical needs. Your health provider may need to seek DVA approval before a service can be provided.
You can locate health providers anywhere anytime via the National Health Services Directory (NHSD).
If you need to travel for treatment
DVA’s Repatriation Transport Scheme assists with travelling expenses for Gold Card or White Card holders who receive entitlements under the Veterans' Entitlement Act 1986. These expenses are based on the cost of a veteran attending the closest practical health provider to their temporary or permanent residence.
You must travel by the most economical and suitable means of transport available at the time. The scheme assists with the costs of transport, accommodation and meals, but does not necessarily reimburse all expenses. Any form of free public transport will not be reimbursed.
The department may provide a Booked Car with Driver (BCWD) service in certain circumstances.
Eligible veterans aged 80 years and over, or who are legally blind, or are suffering from dementia automatically qualify for the use of BCWD services for travel to all approved treatment locations.
Transport bookings can be made by using the MyAccount service or contacting DVA on 1300 550 455 (metropolitan areas) or 1800 550 455 (rural areas).
You can also claim reimbursement of your travelling expenses through the MyAccount service or by lodging a D0800 Claim for Travelling Expenses form.
- HSV02 Entitlements under the Repatriation Transport Scheme
- HSV03 Transport Modes available under the Repatriation Transport Scheme
Gold Card holders can obtain optical services, including optometric assessments for spectacles, contact lenses or low vision aids via any optometrist registered with DVA. Generally, in a two year period you may receive:
- one pair of spectacles with bifocals, trifocals or progressive power lenses; or
- one pair of reading and one pair of distance spectacles.
If your vision changes significantly, before the two year period ends, you may receive replacement lenses.
White Card holders should confirm their eligibility with DVA for optical services before visiting their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
For Gold Card holders, DVA will pay for most dental services provided by a DVA registered Local Dental Officer (LDO). Services must be necessary to meet an assessed need. Some items are subject to an annual monetary limit or a time limit. Generally, you are entitled to new dentures every 6 years. Prior approval from DVA is required for earlier replacement.
For White Card holders, DVA will pay for dental services that meet an assessed need associated with an accepted disability. White Card holders should contact DVA to confirm their eligibility before seeking dental treatment for accepted disabilities.
Hearing services available to eligible members of the veteran community are administered through arrangements between DVA and the Office of Hearing Services (OHS) in the Department of Health.
Hearing services include assessments, rehabilitation and hearing aid fitting if required. Entitled persons who require a hearing aid can select a device from a range of high quality, fully subsidised devices to assist with managing their hearing loss.
In addition, entitled persons are able to access, at no cost, a range of assistive listening devices through DVA’s Rehabilitation Appliance Program, which can assist with hearing specific situations such as crowded environments, using the telephone or watching television.
If you require hearing services, you can:
- apply online;
- visit a hearing service provider who can help you apply for the program;
- visit your Local Medical Officer (LMO) who will refer you to the OHS;
- download the New Client Voucher Application form; or
- phone OHS 1800 500 726 to request a New Client Voucher Application form which can be emailed or posted to you.
See Office of Hearing Services (OHS) Factsheet:
Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP)
This program provides eligible veterans, war widows and widowers with a wide range of aids and appliances to assist with daily living and to help them to remain independent in their own home. Products and services provided range from consumable items such as continence pads to mobility appliances.
Gold Card holders can receive appliances for a clinical need, as assessed by appropriate health professionals. White Card holders can do so only for their accepted disabilities or relevant determined conditions. Veterans and war widows who need assistance under the program should initially contact their LMO.
If you need more information, contact your nearest DVA office.
Community nursing provides clinical nursing and/or personal care services to eligible members of the veteran community in their own home. Community nursing services can assist with medication, wound care, hygiene and help with showering or dressing. Community nursing services can help to restore or maintain your health and independence at home and assist you to avoid early admittance to hospital or residential care.
Community nursing services are provided by a mix of personnel including registered and enrolled nurses and nursing support staff, who work within the framework of their relevant national standards.
Medical Grade Footwear
Gold Card holders can receive medical grade footwear if assessed by a podiatrist, or appropriate health professional, as having a clinical need; and where stock footwear cannot be used, for the purpose of alleviating the effect of a recognised medical foot condition. White Card holders can do so only in relation to their accepted disabilities or relevant determinations.
If you need to go to hospital
DVA purchases hospital services from both the public and private sectors, ensuring access to a comprehensive range of inpatient, outpatient, emergency and mental health hospital services for the veteran community. DVA has arrangements with public hospitals, former repatriation hospitals, contracted private hospitals, mental health facilities and day procedure centres in all states and territories to treat eligible clients. All contracted private hospitals, mental health and day surgery facilities have met all appropriate licensing, accreditation and quality standards. Your treating doctor specialist can organise admission to any of the above facilities that will meet your treatment needs. A list of all contracted private facilities can be found on the "Hospitals and Day Procedure Centres" page of the DVA Website.
For more information about the hospital arrangements you can contact your nearest DVA office.
If you need an ambulance
If you need an ambulance in an emergency, dial ‘000’.
People with a DVA treatment entitlement may be eligible for ambulance travel to the closest hospital. DVA defines emergency as a situation where a patient requires immediate treatment in circumstances where there is serious threat to health or life. If there is a medical emergency and your LMO is not available, you or someone on your behalf may order ambulance transport. If you require transport in a non - emergency situation, such as to attend a medical appointment or hospital, your LMO can arrange ambulance transport if you meet State health and ambulance authority guidelines. Prior approval is not required in the preceding situation except in SA and WA.
For more information about eligibility for ambulance travel contact your nearest DVA office.
Respite gives carers a break by temporarily relieving them of their caring responsibilities. A carer can be a friend, partner or family member who provides ongoing care to a person who is frail or severely incapacitated.
DVA offers respite care to:
- the carer of an eligible veteran or war widow/er;
- an eligible veteran or war widow/er who is a carer; and
- an eligible veteran or war widow/er who is a self-carer (eligible for residential respite only).
There are three types of respite care available through VHC:
- in-home respite;
- residential respite; and
- Emergency Short-Term Home Relief (ESTHR).
In-home respite allows the carer to have a break while a substitute carer comes into the home to take over the caring role.
Residential respite provides short-term care for an eligible veteran or war widow/er in an Australian Government-subsidised aged care facility or, depending on the circumstances, in other types of care accommodation.
ESTHR provides emergency care when the carer is unexpectedly unable to continue the caring role.
To access respite care, call the Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) Assessment Agency on 1300 550 450. The VHC assessor will discuss your circumstances with you to identify which services you need.
For information about how your pension is assessed whilst in residential respite refer to Chapter 4 - Living Arrangements.
Your Gold or White Card can only be used within Australia. These cards are not accepted by health providers outside Australia. Any health care costs accepted by DVA will be limited to your accepted disabilities and the costs usually associated with your care provided in Australia. Health care costs will not be met where your main reason for travel is to obtain health care overseas. You will need to advise DVA, prior to your departure of your intention to travel or live overseas if you wish to claim any DVA health benefits while overseas.
You can use your MyAccount service to view your accepted disabilities and notify DVA of your intention to travel.
Note: There is a form available when travelling overseas (D0578 - Notification of Overseas Travel). Contact your nearest DVA office if you intend travelling.
Travel insurance - We recommend that you consider hospital and medical insurance cover. If you travel in countries which have reciprocal health care arrangements with Australia, you may wish to use these arrangements.
Note: For information about reciprocal health care arrangements, contact your nearest Medicare office.
British, other Commonwealth or allied veterans with qualifying service from World War I or World War II, aged 70 years or over, who have been resident in Australia for 10 years or more, may be eligible to receive a Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Card (Orange Card). The Orange Card entitles you to receive a wide range of medicines and wound dressings prescribed by your doctor for the treatment of your medical conditions, under the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Note: The Orange Card is for PHARMACEUTICALS ONLY and cannot be used for any medical or other health care treatment.
Gold Card and Orange Card holders have access to a wide range of medicines and wound dressings prescribed by their doctor for the treatment of their medical conditions. If you have a White Card, you can receive medicines and wound dressings for the treatment of your accepted disabilities and special conditions only.
You are required to pay a patient co-payment ($6.20 for 2016) for each pharmaceutical item until you reach the Safety Net Threshold. After you reach the Safety Net Threshold, your medicines are free for the rest of the calendar year. There may be an extra charge for higher cost brands or therapeutic groups of some items.
From 1 January 2016, pharmacists may choose to discount the patient co-payment by up to $1.00. This is not mandatory and it is the pharmacist’s choice whether or not to provide a discount. The option to discount the co-payment does not apply for prescriptions which are an early supply of a specified medicine. The value of any discounted co-payment will count towards your safety net threshold.
In 2016 the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) safety net threshold is $372 for concessional card holders. This is the equivalent of 60 prescription at the full value of the co-payment.
Once you have made co-payments to the value of the Safety Net Threshold you will only have to pay any brand charges for your medicines and wound dressings for the rest of the calendar year. In order to access the PBS Safety Net arrangements, it is advisable to maintain a record of your expenditure on full price and discounted co-payments on a Prescription Record form which is available from your pharmacist.
Veterans who are eligible under the Veterans’ Pharmaceutical Reimbursement Scheme may receive a reimbursement for out of pocket costs associated with the concessional pharmaceutical co-payment, which will include any discounted co-payment. (See Chapter 6 - Benefits and services).
If you need or want to discuss mental health support, you can:
- visit DVA’s online mental health website and mobile apps through the At Ease portal.
- talk to your GP, who may also refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health social worker, or mental health occupational therapist if needed; or
- talk to the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) or call 1800 011 046.
DVA can pay for the treatment of anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, PTSD, alcohol use disorder, and substance use disorder whatever the cause. It is planned to expand eligibility to include anyone who has had permanent service in the Australian Defence Force, whatever the length or type of service. You don’t need to make a compensation claim to access these arrangements – just contact DVA for more information.
The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) provides free and confidential, 24/7 nation-wide counselling and support for current and former veterans, eligible ADF members and their families. VVCS counsellors are professionally qualified psychologists and social workers, who maintain a knowledge and understanding of veteran and military culture that enables them to deliver specialised counselling and support. Services offered include:
- individual, couple, or family counselling;
- after hours crisis counselling (1800 011 046);
- group programs to develop skills and enhance support;
- services to enhance family functioning and parenting;
- group programs for veterans, partners, sons and daughters;
- information, education and self-help resources.
For more information on who can access the VVCS services call 1800 011 046. This will connect you with the closest VVCS Centre or the after-hours counselling service.