DVA will work with individuals to help them access their entitlements, crisis payments or crisis accommodation, referrals to local homelessness support services, and information about a network of other organisations that can assist them.
Many of the risk factors that can contribute to veteran homelessness are similar to those for the general population. These include negative life events like relationship breakdown, unemployment and mental health issues.
Housing is fundamental to the welfare of all Australians and the Government is supporting state and territory governments by providing more than $6 billion per year to improve housing and homelessness outcomes for all Australians, including veterans and their families.
DVA is investing significantly in addressing the unique risk factors for homelessness that can arise from military service. Early assistance is vital to prevent housing instability and homelessness and this is DVA’s focus.
DVA has been delivering positive changes to the veterans’ support system by focusing on mental health and wellbeing, from introducing free mental health care for anyone with at least one day of continuous full-time service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), to providing immediate financial support to veterans who have lodged a compensation claim for a mental health condition.
DVA-funded mental health services include services provided by psychiatrists, general practitioners and allied mental health providers, pharmaceuticals and inpatient and outpatient hospital treatment.
Specialised counselling support is also available through the Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling Service. Open Arms provides 24/7 free and confidential counselling and works with veterans to access the most appropriate care. Open Arms also delivers a crisis accommodation program that aims to provide ‘time-out’ accommodation to alleviate a crisis situation like a potentially conflicting domestic situation or an immediate housing crisis.
For those veterans most at risk, DVA provides intensive case management support through its Coordinated Client Support and the Wellbeing and Support Program.
Veteran White Cards are issued to all personnel leaving the ADF and DVA is working with the Department of Defence to improve transition support. Veteran Support Officers (VSO) are available to all serving and transitioning ADF members, providing enhanced DVA services with a greater on-base presence and consistent way of delivering support with tailored, expert advice at the right time. VSOs also help DVA connect with more ADF members so DVA gets to know them and their families well before they leave the ADF.
Through DVA’s Early Engagement Model, ADF members who joined from 1 January 2016, and those who separated after 27 July 2016, are registered with DVA. This information facilitates an email on enlistment, and a letter on separation, from DVA Secretary Liz Cosson AM CSC, which outlines DVA’s services.
DVA is enhancing employment support for veterans through targeted rehabilitation programs that aid vocational and non-vocational outcomes, education and training support, and the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program.
The department is committed to enhancing partnerships between the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions, and working with the homelessness sector as set out in the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan 2020–2023. One of the ways this approach is being actioned is through a new partnership between DVA and the Community Housing Industry Association which will help housing providers better understand veteran need.
Early assistance is the key, so don’t leave it too late to ask for help.
More information about DVA support services can be found on the DVA website.