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Productivity Commission Inquiry - DVA

About time, maybe we will end up with a system to assist, not hinder, veteran health issues. I wonder if the word 'compassion' will appear in the new Legislation. It DOES not appear in any DVA Legislation.

14 December 2018
Productivity Commission calls for veterans’ Affairs to be replaced

The $13.2 billion veterans’ affairs system must undergo its most radical reform since World War II by abolishing the department, making Defence pay insurance premiums and removing the distinction between compensation rates based on types of service, the Productivity Commission says.

In a draft report to be released today, commissioners Robert Fitzgerald and Richard Spencer acknowledge that the unjustifiably complex and cluttered policies for ex-servicemen and women under three ¬pieces of legislation are not just obscure but actually harm veterans.

Mr Fitzgerald said the “time for tinkering is over” and today’s blueprint for reform proposes dismantling the Department of Veterans’ Affairs within four years and replacing its functions with a Veteran Services Commission, while shifting policy oversight to the Department of Defence.

The report is scathing of the Defence Department as the employ¬er of veterans.

“A unique aspect of the current veteran support system is that Defence (the employer) bears no financial responsibility for the cost of compensation, rehabilitation, transition services or medical treatment for service-related injuries and illnesses once a member leaves the service,” it says.

“DVA picks up the tab. The Australian government should recognise that Defence has primary responsibility for the wellbeing of discharging Australian Defence Force members, and this responsibility may extend beyond the date of discharge.”

The commission says this could be fixed by treating the entire system like a modern and best-practice workplace compensation scheme and levying Defence an annual premium worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” to cover the future costs of its employer liabilities. “A premium is, in effect, a price signal about the real costs (lifetime, not short-term costs) of service-related harm. It would complement existing incentives to prevent injury and illness,” the draft report says.

As it stands, Defence has many incentives to shift costs on to the current DVA without any concern it will be held responsible for them.
This must change, the commissioners say, although details of precisely how much this levy should be will be worked out between this and the final report.

The report recommends eliminating a multi-tier system for compensation to veterans based on whether they received injuries in “warlike or non-¬warlike or peacetime” service.
“On the basis that ‘an injury is an injury’ irrespective of the type of service, injuries, illness or deaths due to service should be treated in the same way,” it says. “One rate of compensation should cover all types of service.”

Some elements of the current system, such as health Gold card for veterans, offer perverse incentives to make people strive to prove they are more ill in order to be eligible and this is now in line for an overhaul too.
The Productivity Commission says “no veteran or dependant of a deceased veteran who currently receives a benefit or entitlement will be worse off” under any of its proposals.

Some changes will take place years into the future as two schemes become one, focused on the new face of veterans: those typically in their 20s and 30s, who have a full life outside of military service ahead of them.


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