25 September 2023

Veterans’ advocates in the firing line

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An independent report on the advocacy services available to Australia’s war and military veterans has been released with an invitation for the community to comment.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester said the report of the Veterans’ Advocacy and Support Services Scoping Study, conducted by Robert Cornall (pictured), was an important next step in the continuing transformation of services for veterans and their families.

Mr Chester said the report made 12 recommendations providing a way forward on advocacy services.

“I am seeking feedback from the community before acting on any of the recommendations,” Mr Chester said.

“Mr Cornall identified a number of ways to make it simpler for veterans and their families to gain access to the support and services they deserve, when and where they need them.”

The Minister said the report’s recommendations addressed many of the issues he had been hearing about.

“The recommendations build on the excellent work the Advocacy Training and Development Program has done in developing the accredited course in Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Advocacy,” Mr Chester said.

“The report, together with the draft recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into veterans’ compensation and rehabilitation, provides ideas to support the improvements already under way in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

The Cornall Report says that the advocacy system as presently structured would not provide veterans and their families with a modern, professional and sustainable advocacy service into the future.

It said the existing advocacy model, which relied on an aging cohort of volunteers, was coming to an end.

“The statistics are compelling: 19 per cent of advocates accredited under the Advocacy Training and Development Program were born before 1946 and a total of 83.8 per cent before 1965,” the report says.

Mr Cornall’s 122-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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