Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel

BUDGET ESTIMATES REVEALS THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT IS STILL LETTING DOWN VETERANS

June 04, 2021

Senate Budget Estimates has revealed that despite more funding and staff for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) in this year’s Budget, veterans continue to experience long wait times and a huge backlog of compensation claims under the Morrison Government.

 

In the May Budget, DVA was allocated additional funding and more than 400 permanent staff, which was a clear admission by the Government that their staffing cap was not working and they were letting down veterans and their families.

 

While Labor welcomed the increase in ongoing staff, the reality is this did not go anywhere near enough to restore proper services for our former defence personnel.

 

In response to questions from Labor in Budget Estimates on Wednesday night, DVA officials said that demand is continuing to outstrip staff capacity and the department would still need to hire more labour hire contractors to manage the workload. 

 

While the proportion of labour hire workers across the department was expected to fall from 42 to 32 per cent – still around a third of all staff – this was much higher in some areas.

 

It was revealed in the hearing that 80 per cent of staff at the Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling Service, which provides counselling and mental health services to veterans and their families, were labour hire or part-time counsellors.

 

Veterans have complained about high turnover and a lack of consistency and continuity with counsellors at Open Arms.

 

These are often vulnerable and traumatised people who need stable and reliable services. They don’t want to have to deal with different counsellors all the time.

 

This is a direct result of the Government’s staffing cap, which is forcing Open Arms to rely on ridiculously high levels of poorly trained labour hire workers. It’s just not good enough.

 

The reality is our ex-service men and women still face dangerously long wait times just to access support and a constant backlog of claims.

 

The Government needs to do the right thing and abolish its arbitrary staffing cap once and for all in order to deliver better services for veterans. They need to scrap the cap.

 

After eight long years, this tired Government is still letting down our veterans and their families.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST