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ESO Round Table - summary of meeting 13 May 2014

The Ex-Service Organisation (ESO) Round Table met for the 26th time in Canberra and by video conference in various locations on 13 May 2014.  Prior to the Budget announcement by Treasurer Hockey at 7.30pm, members were provided with a closed session briefing on DVA Budget initiatives and measures announced as part of the 2014/15 Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Federal Budget.

Budget Briefing – DVA Initiatives / Measures

The Chair advised the Budget contains $12.3 billion for the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio which includes:

  • $6.7 billion for income support and compensation
    (approximately $0.2 billion Departmental and $6.5 billion Administered);
  • $5.5 billion for health initiatives
    (approximately $0.1 billion Departmental and $5.4 billion Administered); and
  • $0.1 billion has been provided for commemorative activities including the Anzac Centenary.  An additional $6.9 million has been allocated toward a scoping study for a Western Front Interpretive Centre.

Members were advised that like all Commonwealth agencies, DVA will incur the application of a 2.5% efficiency dividend on its operating budget.  DVA’s reduced operational funding will have no impact on service delivery.
The Budget package initiatives included:

  • $0.2 million provided in the 2014-15 Budget to undertake a scoping study on the future management and operations of the Defence Services Homes Insurance Scheme (DSHIS), which will include advice from an insurance industry expert;
  • Commencement of payments from date of claim for the Veterans’ Disability Pension; 
  • Annual reviews undertaken through the Enhanced Compliance Program will increase to ensure clients receive the level of income support they are entitled to; and
  • A range of cross portfolio measures with the Department of Health of Ageing.  
  • Restoring funding by providing an additional $1 million per year to the Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) program over the forward estimates;
  • Implementing a number of mental health initiatives – in response to one of the four pillars of the Government’s plan for veterans and their families – tackling mental health challenges;
  • Increasing funding under the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program to $0.125 million per electorate; and
  • Indexation for military superannuants under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme (DFRB), the Defence Force Retirement, Death Benefits Scheme (DFDB) and for reversionary (widow) pensioners.  The Chair noted that this particular initiative is not a DVA measure and for further information, veterans should go to www.dfrdb.gov.au.

The Chair confirmed $49.2 billion will be allocated to the Department over the four years forward estimates period.

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