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Veterans Affairs

Joint Communiqué – Minister Keogh – Veterans’ Ministerial Council

Department of Veterans' Affairs 2 mins read

OFFICIAL

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THE HON MATT KEOGH MP

MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL

JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ

6 October 2023

VETERANS’ MINISTERIAL COUNCIL

Federal, State and Territory Ministers responsible for veterans’ matters met in Perth today, committing to strengthening national collaboration on the services and supports available for veterans and their families.

The Veterans’ Ministerial Council was joined by the United Kingdom Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, the Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP, who is currently visiting Australia. Minister Mercer provided an update on matters of importance to UK veterans and families and shared insights into the UK veteran landscape.


Harmonisation of veteran recognition and concessions

Given the transient nature of defence service and the probability of a veteran family relocating following service, Ministers acknowledged the need for clearer and more consistent veteran concession arrangements. Ministers discussed opportunities for national harmonisation and mutual recognition of relevant identification documents, such as concession cards. Ministers agreed to work collaboratively towards this goal, recognising the need to improve collaboration in support of currently serving defence personnel and families who frequently move around the country.  

Similarly, Ministers acknowledged this transient lifestyle had an impact on Defence and veteran families, particularly children. They considered the merits of including a ‘Defence and/or Veteran Family’ identifier on school enrolment forms to help identify the children of current and former Australian Defence Force personnel and other strategies to simplify access to education. This initiative is currently being progressed in the ACT and South Australia. Ministers noted the potential benefits of this initiative, intended to improve the school based supports for children from veteran families. Ministers agreed to explore this in their relevant jurisdictions.

 

Veteran Mental Health Support

 

The Council agreed that the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has made it abundantly clear that more needs to be done to support the mental health and wellbeing of Defence personnel, veterans and families. The Council was briefed on the development of the inaugural joint Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy; progress of the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs program; the recently released Veteran Transition Strategy; and the implementation of the recommendations of the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

 

With this commitment to improving mental health outcomes for Australian veterans and families, Ministers discussed the desirability of a national approach to psychiatric assistance dog accreditation and agreed to work together to progress national standards.



Research underway

 

Representatives from the Western Australian and South Australian Governments delivered a presentation on the work they are doing to better support and understand veterans in the corrective services system. The Council discussed the need to improve data collection relating to veterans’ incarceration and homelessness, with research into these issues currently underway.

 

 

Ministerial attendees

  • Australian Government (Chair): Matt Keogh MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel
  • Australian Capital Territory: Ms Emma Davidson MLA
  • New South Wales: The Hon. David Harris MP (virtual)
  • Northern Territory: The Hon Paul Kirby MLA (virtual)
  • Queensland: Mr Bart Mellish MP
  • Tasmania: The Hon. Guy Barnett MP (virtual)
  • Victoria: The Hon. Natalie Suleyman MP
  • Western Australia: The Hon. Paul Papalia MLA
  • Guest: United Kingdom Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, the Rt Hon Johnny Mercer MP

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