Legislation for the advocate’s appointment in the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio has been introduced to Federal Parliament.
The new Veteran Family Advocate will be an additional member of two Commissions that deliver services to veterans and their families — the Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.
Veterans’ perspectives are represented on the Commissions by the Repatriation Commissioner, who is selected from nominations by ex-service organisations.
The Veteran Family Advocate extends this model to bring the essential perspectives and insights of veterans’ families to the Commissions’ work and will complement the work of the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.
The new Veteran Family Advocate will focus on mental health and suicide prevention, and bring new insights into risk factors relating to the wellbeing of veterans and their families, particularly during transition from the Australian Defence Force (ADF). They will represent the views of veterans and their families to help shape policy and the administration of veteran benefits and support.
In particular, the Veteran Family Advocate will focus on identifying and addressing systemic issues that affect the wellbeing of veterans and their families.
‘The Veteran Family Advocate will work with veterans' families to build our understanding of risk and protective factors relating to the wellbeing of veterans and their families, particularly during their transition from the ADF,’ Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester, told Parliament.
‘They will be responsible for directly engaging with the families of veterans, to help shape policy, improve the design of all veteran programs and services, including mental health support and services.’
The Minister said the Veteran Family Advocate would support DVA to deliver the Government's commitment to enhancing the veteran community’s health and wellbeing by ensuring our veteran support system focused on veterans' mental health and suicide prevention.
In addition, representing veterans' families’ perspectives within the Commissions, they would:
- consult veterans’ families to hear their insights and experience about how to ease the burden veterans’ families face in supporting their loved one,
- work with ex-service organisations which represent families of veterans across Australia, and
- participate in key bodies like the Council for Women and Families United by Defence Service, and the Female Veterans and Veterans' Families Policy Forum.
‘The government cannot solve the complex problems faced by veterans without the assistance of their families,’ the Minister said.
‘It is the start of a partnership between these commissions and the families of veterans.’
A merit-based selection process to appoint the Veteran Family Advocate has started.