Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package

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What is the Defence, Veterans’ and Families’ Acute Support Package? 

The Defence, Veterans' and Families' Acute Support Package (Acute Support Package) provides short-term flexible support to eligible veterans and their families, to adjust to new and challenging life circumstances that may result in the family being at risk of experiencing crisis.

New and challenging life circumstances can be more than an event, they can be about the impact an event or a series of events has on a family’s ability to function. The kinds of circumstances that may impact a family are unexpected and may impact each family member differently. 

A DVA case manager will assess your eligibility for the Acute Support Package and take into consideration the specific circumstances and events your family is experiencing and the interventions that may help you cope and function well in the future.

The program’s purpose is not to provide financial support, so Acute Support Package funding does not cover the cost of living expenses such as rent, medical fees, school fees and utility bills.

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Who is eligible?

You may access support through the Acute Support Package if you are:

A widowed partner:

  • Under 65 years old at the time eligibility is determined; and
  • A War Widow(er) under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), a Wholly Dependent Partner under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) or a partner under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) whose veteran partner’s death was related to service; including suicide; and the veteran’s death was less than two years ago; and 
  • It is appropriate to grant a package of support to assist with adjusting to new and challenging life circumstances.

A grandparent:

  • who is parenting the child of a veteran under 18 years of age; and
  • Where the veteran is deceased, the veteran’s death was related to service; including suicide; and the veteran’s death was less than two years ago; and
  • It is appropriate to grant a package of support to assist with adjusting to new and challenging life circumstances.

A former partner of a veteran:

  • Under 65 years old at the time eligibility is determined; and
  • They ceased being the former veteran’s partner within the previous twelve months; and/or a child of the veteran who is under 18 years of age lives with the former partner; and
  • They or the child are experiencing new and challenging life circumstances that give rise to the need to support the family unit; and
  • The former veteran partner is under 65 years of age at the time eligibility is determined; and
  • The veteran is eligible for Incapacity Payments under the DRCA or MRCA, SRDP under the MRCA, or a Special or Intermediate rate of Disability Compensation Payment, or Veteran Payment under the VEA; and
  • It is appropriate to grant a package of support to assist with adjusting to new and challenging life circumstances.

A veteran family:

  • Where the veteran or a family member of the veteran is experiencing new and challenging life circumstances that give rise to the need for support; and
  • The veteran is under 65 years of age at the time eligibility is determined; and
  • The veteran is eligible for Incapacity Payments under the DRCA or MRCA, SRDP under the MRCA, or a Special or Intermediate rate of Disability Compensation Payment, or Veteran Payment under the VEA; and
  • It is appropriate to grant a package of support to assist with adjusting to new and challenging life circumstances.

While a veteran family in most cases will receive support through a veteran’s Acute Support Package, there may be exceptional circumstances where the veteran’s involvement would be inappropriate for the family member. DVA is bound by the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 so we are required to know if you are a family member seeking support in this circumstance. 

More information on DVA’s Privacy Policy and how DVA uses personal information can be found on the website.

Veteran family members are defined under the legislation as a related person of a veteran and includes:

  • The veteran’s partner;
  • A parent or step-parent of the veteran;
  • A parent or step-parent of the veteran’s partner;
  • A grandparent of the veteran;
  • A child or stepchild of the veteran;
  • A child or stepchild of the veteran’s partner;
  • A grandchild of the veteran;
  • A sibling or half-sibling of the veteran;
  • A person in respect of whom the veteran stands in the position of a parent; or
  • A person who stands in the position of a parent to the veteran.

There is no application form to complete. Families are referred through 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) or via a referral to DVA Triage and Connect. Existing DVA clients may also be referred by a DVA employee where the program may be more suitable to meet their needs.  

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How it works

DVA offers a range of programs to assist vulnerable veterans and families to navigate DVA services and access supports. The Acute Support Package is one of the programs supported by the Client Support Program, where a DVA case manager will work with your family to find support that is appropriate to your circumstances and assessed needs.

Where veteran families are not eligible for the Acute Support Package or the program may not meet your needs, you may remain supported under the Client Support Program by a case manager to connect you with other programs and government/community services and supports.

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What services can be included in a support plan

Under the Acute Support Package program a DVA case manager will support your family to develop a support plan, based on your assessed needs. Your support plan will set out the services you can access and the funding limits. The duration and level of support may vary as your family progress through their support plan.

Your case manager will also help connect you to other programs and support services in your community to meet your family’s needs.

Your case manager requires you to remain engaged with them for the duration of your support plan so the services remain relevant to your circumstances. The program provides flexibility in the support you can access, so you or your case manager can request to vary your support plan if your circumstances and needs change.

The services available may include:

  • Child care (including home based care, centre based care, family day care, occasional care and outside school hours care)
  • Counselling for adults and children (including clinical, financial and other life skills counselling where required)
  • Household assistance (including meal preparation, cleaning, and household and garden maintenance)
  • Services to build capacity (including financial literacy, relationship skills, cooking lessons and mental health first aid)
  • Wellbeing, academic and extra-curricular support for children (including tutoring, music lessons and sporting activities)
  • Transport for families to attend services provided through the program if required
  • Other services that may be appropriate to assist your family to adjust to new and challenging circumstances

Children included on a support plan may benefit from services to help them cope, at a time when the family is experiencing challenging events and the support may benefit their wellbeing.

Child care and household services may be included in your support plan to help you balance competing demands between family responsibilities and attending appointments for services provided in your support plan, particularly during challenging times.

Further information on how DVA provides support for families is available at: Support for families | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au)

Information about other government programs and services that you may be eligible to receive can be found at Our programs - Services Australia

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More information

If you want to find out how you can get support you can call 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) 8AM to 5PM Monday to Friday. You can also go to general-enquiries and follow the prompts to send us a message.

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If you need counselling support today

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling is a free and confidential 24-hour service for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families. Call 1800 011 046 or go to the Open Arms website to get support or find out more.

If you need urgent help or support you can also go to Urgent help and support for information on organisations who can help.

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Get urgent help and support today

If you or someone else is in crisis and needs immediate help, call one of the following:

  • Triple zero (000) if you feel like you may hurt yourself or someone else
  • Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046
    24-hour free counselling and support for you and your family
  • ADF Mental Health All-hours Support Line on 1800 628 036
    Confidential 24-hour telephone service for ADF members and their families
  • Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14
    Free support services if you are in crisis and need to talk to someone
  • 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732
    National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service.
  • National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007
    Support for financial hardship, including financial counselling, debt and complex situations 
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