14 May 2010

Aussie DVA delivers response to Clarke Review of veterans' entitlements

Today Minister of Veterans Affairs Alan Griffin issued a response to the recommendations of the 2003 Clarke Review of Veterans' Entitlements which can be found here.

Some of the highlights in which the DVA has accepted include:
  • Accepted the Clarke recommendation that participation by Australian Defence Force personnel in the British atomic tests be declared non-warlike hazardous and the Veterans’ Entitlements Act (VEA) will be amended to give effect to the recommendation (Funding: $24.2m).
  • Certain submarine special operations service between 1978 and 1992 will be reclassified as operational service and qualifying service, meaning veterans have improved access to benefits. This exceeds Clarke’s recommendation that this service be deemed non-warlike hazardous (Funding: $11.1m).
  • Changes to the domicile rules for British Commonwealth and Allied (BCAL) veterans. This fixes as an administrative anomaly which prevented some BCAL veterans from being considered as Australian veterans under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act.
  • Changes to the eligibility to claim for War Widow/ers pension to ensure equal treatment of those who enter de facto relationships with those who marry/remarry.
  • Affordable housing and access to tertiary scholarships.
  • Improved bereavement payments made to widows of veterans.
DVA did not accept 12 of the original Clarke recommendations, which include:
  • Proposed changes to the ‘incurred danger’ test for certain veterans’ entitlements: the Government cannot accept changes to such a fundamental standard.
  • Extension of qualifying service benefits to certain British Commonwealth and Allied veterans.
  • Extension of the definition of operational service.
  • Means testing of access to the DVA Gold Card in certain circumstances: the Government considers the Gold Card should not be means tested as it is provided in recognition of a person being placed in danger from an enemy.
  • Allowing War Widows living overseas to claim income support supplement: this is not supported as the Government believes it would create an anomaly in the social security system between the Social Security Act and the VEA.
“We looked extremely carefully at all the revisited recommendations and I stand behind our responses. What we have done is to provide access to benefits in a targeted and responsible manner,” said Griffin.

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