Veterans receive major funding boost for mental health in Budget

Date: May 11, 2017

Veterans across Australia are welcoming news in the Federal Budget that current and former military personnel will receive $350 million of additional funding across a range of services, including mental health support.

People in the military may develop a number of mental health problems due to the traumatic events they can experience as part of their job. Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are common afflictions, with serious conditions potentially being classed as permanent disabilities.

Anyone who is unable to return to work because of a mental health problem may be eligible for total and permanent disability benefits under a superannuation fund or a separate insurance policy.

The federal government has revealed the extra $350 million funding will provide essential additional support for service people, including a $33.5 million expansion of the non-liability healthcare program.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Dan Tehan said the federal government is committed to fulfilling the mental health needs of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members.

"Importantly, a veteran does not have to prove their mental health condition is related to their service. The funding for mental health treatment is demand-driven and not capped – if an eligible person requires treatment, it will be paid for," he explained.

Further funding promised

The loved ones of former ADF personnel are also set to receive more support due to an $8.5 million injection to expand eligibility criteria for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).

"VVCS is the frontline mental health service for those in the veteran community and is a vital service that saves lives," Mr Tehan stated.

Under new rules, partners and children of contemporary veterans will have access to VVCS services, provided the ADF member has at least one day of full-time service. Former partners will also be able to benefit from VVCS counselling for up to five years following a couple's separation or until a co-parented child reaches 18 years old.

A further $9.8 million is earmarked for a suicide prevention pilot program, while $2.7 million will go towards a veterans' employment initiative aimed at helping former military personal find fulfilling jobs after service.

Can more be done?

Chief Executive of charity Soldier On John Bale lauded the announcement, stating that veterans with mental health issues should be able to access help and assistance more quickly. However, he encouraged government agencies to work better with community groups that already offer support.

"We're hoping the next phase of this is working out how to improve the support given to the community sector that is on the ground, often providing services in conjunction with the department of veteran affairs," he said.

Has your life been affected by mental health problems that have prevented you or a loved one from returning to the workplace? Please contact experienced superannuation and personal disability lawyers to see whether you could be eligible for a TPD claim.

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