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ESO Round Table - summary of meeting 22 March 2012

The Ex-Service Organisation (ESO) Round Table met for the fifteenth  time in Canberra on 22 March 2012.

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed all members. Apologies were  noted and changes to the forum membership discussed, particularly that Mr Blyth {TPI) has resigned due to ill health and Mr Hudson is acting National President, TPI. RADM Crawford resigned from AVADSC and Mr Blake is now National President. The Chair also welcomed Mr McNeill on behalf of Mr Pettis and Mr Michaelis on behalf of RADM Doolan.

Minister Snowdon updated the ESO Round Table on current initiatives, programs and commemorations. He discussed:

  • Appointments to the Austrailan War Memorial Council and Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters.
  • Commemorative activities planned for 2012 and the need to manage numbers and expectations in light of budgetary and health constraints of veterans
  • The upcoming Federal Budget
  • The Anzac Centenary Program.
  • The Support for Wounded, Ill and Injured Program (SWIIP)
  • On Base Advisory Service {OBAS) and the importance of meeting the needs of younger serving families.

The Minister has visited severalbases in recent months and i s very encouraged by how well SWIIP and OBAS is being received and the collaboration between both Defence and DVA.  

The Minister also announced the 12 month loan of the Long Tan Cross in August 2012 to the Australian War Memorial. Australia is loaning the Menin Gate Lions to Belgium. There was brief discussion about the Vietnam Veterans Education Centre and 'The Wall' in Washington.

The following submissions from members were discussed at the meeting:

Nominal Roll for Malaya Emergency, Operation Crimp and Borneo Confrontation - raised by the Royal Australian Regiment Corporation (Mr von Berg) and the Returned & Services League of Australia (RADM Doolan)

The Chair acknowledged the value of Nominal Rolls but noted that neither DVA nor Defence have the resources to fund such a project.  The Chair agreed to report back to ESO Round Table on the costs involved in producing Nominal Rolls.

The Government's failure to pass on increases to Centrelink payments to eligible secondary students- raised by the Vietnam Veterans' Federation and the TPI Federation

It was confirmed that the Government has made a Budget decision which means that some secondary students currently receiving education assistance from DVA may choose to transfer to Centrelink to receive a higher rate. DVA assured members that there is a system in place to stay in contact with those children and make sure they are aware of any additional entitlements.

Lateness of Section 137 reports- raised by the Vietnam Veterans' Federation

Members noted DVA's written response showing that staff movements in Sydney and Brisbane offices caused some delays but they are now in the process of getting back on target.

The Connell Case - raised by the Vietnam Veterans' Federation

The Chair advised that following the Federal Court decision in August 2011, Mr Connell was entitled to an Intermediate Rate pension under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. Members of the ESO Round Table were invited to bring any cases which had been rejected along the lines of the Connell Decision to Mr Farrelly's attention.

Update of relocating VVCS offices- raised by the Vietnam Veterans' Federation

Members noted DVA's response about the relocation of VVCS offices in Darwin, Lismore and Southport.  Members were updated on the Department's ongoing efforts to source suitable accommodation for VVCS offices.

Update of Application for Carers Allowance- raised by Partners of Veterans Association

Ms Stephenson confirmed that the matter has been raised with FaHCSIA which is considering suggestions in the context of the Government's initiative to focus on the capacity of disabled people to retum to employment.

Include eligible dependants in the Pharmaceutical Reimbursements Scheme (PRS) ­ raised by Legacy Australia

Members noted DVA's response to the issue raised about eligible dependents not being included in the PRS, where the Government provides war widow, widowers and dependents access to the widest range of government-subsidised medicines and a full range of public  and private health care services.

Increase pensions for eligible dependent children of veterans under VEA to the same level as eligible children under MRCA where the veteran's death is service related ­ raised by Legacy Australia

Members noted DVA's response to the request for Government to increase pensions for eligible dependent children of veterans under VEA to the same level as eligible children under MRCA where the veteran's death is service-related.This issue needs to be considered in the Budget context along with other priorities.

MAJGEN Fogarty and Ms Cosson spoke about Defence and DVA's implementation of the Support for Wounded, Injured or Ill Program. Both organisations are aiming for a seamless transition with continuity of care by the same providers. Serving members will be encouraged to establish links with DVA at the time of the injury.

Ms Cosson also discussed OBAS. On Base Advisors are now at over 35 locations and have received 1800 enquriies since establishment in October 2011. As at 12 March there have been 133 claims lodged,and 178 cases referred to ESOs .

Members discussed possible options for participation in the Anzac Centenary by the general public and specific groups related to DVA and Defence, such as former serving veterans and  widows, current serving ADF members, school children/young people, and descendants.

Members were provided with Departmental updates on the following:

  • Clean Energy Household Assistance Package
  • Compensation offsetting Research update
  • Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) Grants
  • Understanding Military Culture and Mental Health DVA's consultation framework
  • Neuromonics Tinntius Trial
  • Coordinated Veterans Care Program Booked Car Services
  • In-home Telemonitoring for Veterans Trial
  • Assistance to Younger Widows.
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