Federal Member for Blair and Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann held a roundtable in Ipswich today with local veterans and veteran advocates to hear their concerns.
The Friday forum covered a range of issues affecting people who have recently left the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and are living in Ipswich, the Somerset Region and Karana Downs region.
Topics discussed included Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and service delivery failures, defence and veteran mental health and suicide, transitional support for people leaving the ADF, and service pensions.
Mr Neumann said he had met with many veterans from the electorate in recent months and many were fed up with the Morrison Government’s and DVA’s performance.
“For a start, veterans are waiting too long to get their entitlements and waiting times for compensation claims have continued to blow out while DVA deals with a huge backlog of applications.
“Local veterans have told me they are waiting six months or longer to receive payments in some cases. It’s just not good enough,” Mr Neumann said.
Mr Neumann said more needed to be done to tackle the scourge of defence and veteran suicides.
“A year ago, the Government announced a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, but many veterans and families have rejected this as a marketing exercise designed to placate them and avoid a proper investigation.
“Labor and many veterans have called for a Royal Commission into ADF and veteran suicides instead to try to get to the bottom of the issue once and for all.
“And we need to do more to support our defence personnel when it comes to transitioning out of the ADF and into civilian life through assistance with mental health, employment, housing and homelessness, for example.
“I know many veterans are also frustrated with the Government’s responses to reviews of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated (TPI) pension and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) scheme,” he said.
Mr Neumann said roundtables were an important way to hear directly from veterans, and he planned to hold more locally and across the country over the coming months to help inform Labor’s policies in this area.
“My electorate of Blair is home to a large ex-service community and as a community we have a duty to look after these people, who have put their lives on the line for our nation.
“My door is always open and I am always happy to meet with veterans and their families, and ex-service organisations in Ipswich, the Somerset Region and Karana Downs region to talk about ways we can improve policies and programs.”