6 March 2024

Draft legislation released to streamline veterans’ entitlements and compensation

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Matt Keogh MP

Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister Matt Keogh says the new legislation will streamline veterans’ compensation claim processes. Photo: ADF.

The Federal Government has released exposure draft legislation designed to simplify and harmonise veterans’ entitlements, compensation and rehabilitation systems.

After a period of consultation, the government says the draft legislation will simplify the veteran compensation system, with all claims to be considered under a single act.

It says the current system is difficult to understand and complex to administer. The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, which is due to deliver its final report later this year, said the current system was “so complicated that it adversely affects the mental health of some veterans and can be a contributing factor to suicidality”.

The new legislation will see:

  • All new claims for compensation and rehabilitation from the date of commencement assessed under a single act, an improved Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (MRCA)
  • The Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 closed to new claims following the commencement of the new arrangements, and
  • All benefits received under existing schemes continue unaffected under grandparenting arrangements. Any new claims after the commencement date (including claims for worsening pre-existing conditions) will be assessed under the improved MRCA.

READ ALSO Government claims near victory over veterans’ compensation backlog

Additional improvements will include:

  • The introduction of a new Additional Disablement Amount to provide similar benefits as the Extreme Disablement Adjustment for those post-retirement age
  • Making the higher travel allowance under MRCA available to all veterans and for all kilometres travelled
  • Providing a pathway for veterans currently only covered by DRCA to qualify for the Specialist Medical Review Council and a Gold Card if they have a new claim accepted, and
  • Increasing the general funeral allowance from $2000 to $3000.

Feedback and submissions from the veteran community and general public on the draft Veterans’ Entitlements, Treatment and Support (Simplification and Harmonisation) Bill 2024 close on 28 April 2024.

More information on the proposed legislation and opportunities to provide feedback can be found at www.dva.gov.au/legislationreform.

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In an interview on SKY News, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Matt Keogh said veterans who engage with the current scheme sometimes fall under more than one or all of the three pieces of the scheme.

“It made it hugely complex, added a lot of stress and anxiety for veterans,” he said.

“What we have released here with the exposure draft will move to a system where all new claims will be dealt with under one piece of legislation, the modern MRCA, as it’s known.

“That’ll mean that it’s easier for veterans to know what they’re entitled to, makes it easier for advocates to help them in lodging claims, and it’ll make it quicker for the department to process claims, which is really important because that means veterans get the support they need sooner.”

The draft legislation comes in the wake of an announcement last month that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has successfully reduced the previous backlog of 42,000 claims to almost zero.

“Now, within two weeks of you lodging a claim, someone will be looking at it and assessing,” Mr Keogh said.

“The department is now the best resourced it’s been in three decades to make sure we can deliver these outcomes.”


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