Update on support for bereaved children of veterans
During the course of our regular Townhalls, an urgent priority regarding access to treatment for bereaved children of veterans was identified and immediately actioned.
Over the course of the following 4 weeks, we worked with DVA and the Minister’s Office to understand the barriers in the system. Through this work, DVA advised us of a decision of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) which was relevant and applicable to the circumstances raised by one of the widows in the town hall. A widow whose child had lost access to the gold card because she couldn’t study full time anymore due to a severe mental illness.
The department is now working very quickly to establish a process and review cases where children aged 16-24 have lost access to their treatment card due to being unable to remain in full-time study.
So in a nutshell, here is where we are and what we know:
For the children of veterans who pass away as a result of their service, they are provided access to health care (among other forms of compensation) through the DVA Gold Card. This card is available to them until the age of 16 unless they continue to engage in full-time study.
From the ages of 16-24 years these children can retain access to the Gold Card provided they are enrolled in full-time study. For children who cannot continue their full-time study due to a diagnosed mental or physical health condition or other circumstances outlined here, then the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Special Assistance) Instrument 2022 applies (the instrument).
Under this instrument, these children can retain access to their gold card until the age of 24 years. If this applies to your child, please contact DVA or their coordinated client support team and request that the instrument be applied to your circumstances. If you have trouble making this request or connection with DVA, please contact us and we can assist you.
If your child’s access to the gold card has been revoked and not reinstated despite your child’s circumstances being covered by this instrument, please contact us immediately and we will escalate your case with DVA.
Veteran Legislation Review Update
Thank you to those of you who have shared your views with us on the veteran’s legislation reform pathway proposed by the Minister for Veterans, the Hon Matt Keogh. We are currently gathering your responses and are preparing our submission.
It is important to reiterate that no war widow or veteran will have benefits and entitlements removed from them as part of this process.
Our submission will discuss the experiences of veterans’ families and propose the following to be considered as part of the legislation reform:
- A model for ensuring the mental health care for veterans’ families in a prioritised/ phased approach. With the priority being children who are bereaved by their parents’ passing. The second being the children of veterans who are wounded/ injured or ill as a result of their service.
- Transitional arrangements between effectively ‘turning off’ one Act one day and ‘turning on’ the MRCA on the next day and how inequities between claims made the day before will be sorted through.
- The language used in the MRCA to refer to widowed partners and children be fixed to better meet contemporary standards and expectations. We do not think referring to these groups as “Wholly Dependent Partners” meets contemporary community standards.
- That widow/ers claims be considered under presumptive liability in certain circumstances.