Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Secretary Simon Lewis PSM today confirmed DVA’s full support for, and cooperation with, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
A senior DVA officer will appear before the Royal Commission at its public hearing into the experiences of men and women who were sexually abused as children in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), which started in Sydney today. DVA has already responded to a range of Commission requests for information.
“DVA welcomes the opportunity to participate in this transparent investigation into how institutions have managed, and responded to, allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse,” Mr Lewis said.
“This is a serious issue, which DVA endeavours to deal with sensitively and efficiently while meeting legislative requirements and providing support and treatment to clients.
“Our particular interest, of course, is to ensure that DVA is implementing best practice in responding to clients who were sexually abused while in the ADF.”
Mr Lewis emphasised support services available, including the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).
“VVCS is a specialist service that provides free, confidential counselling, case management and group programs to around 20,000 current and former ADF members and their families each year. Importantly, VVCS is available Australia-wide and accessible 24/7 on 1800 011 046.
“I encourage former serving members of the ADF who may have been victims of child sexual abuse while in service to call VVCS for support.”
Mr Lewis said that under non-liability heath care arrangements, DVA can pay for the treatment of mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and alcohol and substance use disorders.
“This is separate to any compensation claim process and does not require that the condition be service related,” he said.
MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Department of Veterans’ Affairs 02 6289 6203.