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YVF - Summary 15 March 2017 meeting

Minister’s Address

The Chair welcomed the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, to the morning session of the YVF. Members raised concerns over the instances of veterans’ suicide and treatment programmes for mental health conditions. The Minister acknowledged the complexity of the issues and advised members of Suicide Prevention Trail being conducted in Townsville and the expansion of eligibility under the Non-Liability Health Care provisions for all personnel with one day full time service in the ADF plus access to care through the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).

The Minister expressed a commitment to investigate the potential for the establishment of a unit to provide rapid response for potential suicide cases that are reaching a recognised crisis point.

Members also expressed concerns over the privacy aspects of the new Digital Readiness Bill. The Minister stated that the Bill will provide a strengthening of the processes around releasing veteran information and agreed to provide members with a clear explanation of these aspects of the Bill for distribution to their organisations. The Bill is scheduled to be debated in the Senate on Monday, 20 March.

Advocacy Training Development Program - ATDP

Members were provided with a summary of the participation of younger veterans involved in training under ATPD and the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for practicing advocates with extensive experience.

DVA Reconnects Project

Deputy Commissioner NSW/ACT advised that the program aims to re-establish contact veterans’ aged 50 and under who have had operational service in Iraq and Afghanistan with one of four accepted conditions. Feedback from clients who have been contacted has been overwhelmingly positive.

Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme

Data analysis continues with work well under way on the first two of nine research reports, the Mental Health Prevalence and Pathways to Care. Final reports are due to DVA and Defence in mid-2017. The remaining seven reports are anticipated progressively from mid-2017 to mid-2018.

Phase 1 of the MRCA Rehabilitation Long-Term Study is now complete with the proposed Study Design Framework finalised in December 2016. Phase 2 is the Study Design Framework which will guide the conduct of the study itself.

Principal Medical Adviser Update

The Forum was updated on current medical projects from Dr Ian Gardner, Principal Medical Adviser. Dr Gardner advised that Dr Loretta Poerio commenced as DVA Mental Health Adviser.

Members were updated on a number of matters including Mefloquine, RMA investigation into chemically acquired brain injury from Mefloquine, Tafenoquine and Primaquine; Literature Reviews (funded by Defence) into Female Reproductive Health outcomes in women exposed to Fuels and Solvent; and further research being undertaken in relation to firefighters and cancers.

Business Updates

The Forum was provided with updates on ongoing mental and social health initiatives, Veterans’ Employment Program, rehabilitation programme improvements, and updates to policies and procedures for claims related to sexual and physical abuse. 

National Consultation Framework (NCF) Review

The Chair thanked members for their feedback during the Review and provided a summary of the Review recommendations. He noted that when the Review is finalised, letters will be sent to National Presidents seeking YVF membership nominations for the upcoming three years.

Member Submissions

The Forum heard six member submissions addressing a range of matters:

  • Liability cover of former ADF employees in future employment (continued from last Forum submission);
  • Concussion and moderate to severe traumatic brain injury;
  • Care for Veterans’ with mental health conditions as it stands;
  • Progression report of the RMA creating a SOP for Military Sexual Trauma;
  • Emergency services liaison and critical incident management of Veteran suicide and follow on case management by DVA; and
  • Assistance dogs – training, ownership, responsibility and ongoing accountability and support for Veterans’ and animals.

Guest Presentations

Ms Catherine Reid, Director, Carer Reform Policy, Department of Social Services (DSS) spoke on the Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services. The plan outlines actions to improve access to information and services for carers to ensure carer’s needs are recognised and supported in their own right.

Chair Special Comments

The Chair thanked members and acknowledged their contributions and involvement over the past three years.

The forum will next meet on Thursday 27 July 2017.

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