Health

ADF Health issues is a growing area of interest and concern to the DFWA.  Current matters include:

ADF SUICIDES (September 2018).  The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released two new reports (available on  www.aihw.gov.au):

1. Causes of death among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel:

Rates of death from all causes were generally lower among serving, reserve and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel than for the Australian population. The leading causes of death among men in the three ADF service status groups were similar, by age, to those for Australian men, while rates of death for the leading causes identified were generally lower, or similar, for men in the ADF service status groups than for Australian men.

2. National suicide monitoring of serving & ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel: annual update 2018

From 2001 to 2016, there were 373 suicides in serving, ex-serving and reserve Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. Compared with all Australian men, the age-adjusted rate of suicide over the period was 51% lower for men serving full time in the ADF, 47% lower for men in the reserves and 18% higher for ex-serving men. In 2014-2016, ex-serving men aged under 30 had a suicide rate 2.2 times that of Australian men the same age. Includes data visualisation

DVA RESPONSE:  DFWA received the following response from the Secretary of DVA, Liz Cosson, on the AIHW reports:

I am writing to update you on the release of two Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports: the 2018 update on the Causes of death among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2002–2015, and the National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

These reports commissioned by DVA, provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of veterans’ health. By and large they show that health outcomes for serving members are better than the general community. However, the findings confirm higher rates of suicide amongst veterans, especially those under 30. 

Recognising that suicide in the veteran community is of significant concern and that it is often related to mental health issues, DVA spends close to $200 million annually on supporting the mental health needs of veterans and their families. Importantly, the funding for this is demand-driven and uncapped. The government has already invested in expanding our non-liability mental health care to veterans and some reservists for all mental health conditions. Funding has also been received for suicide prevention pilots and access to early treatment, the results of which will inform our future direction in addressing this very serious issue.

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) provides a widely respected free, confidential counselling service to our veteran and ADF communities Australia-wide. VVCS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 011 046. DVA is now issuing a DVA White Card to every discharging full time member of the ADF without them having to apply. The DVA White Card allows them to access treatment for any mental health condition, whenever they may need it throughout their life, without having to first approach DVA. 

We share the same concerns as all of you and I am committed to working with ESORT, and the broader ex-service community, to further enhance support channels and programs to veterans and their families.

END

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT VOLUNTARY BLOOD TESTING PROGRAM FOR PFAS (November 2016).  From 30 November 2016, the Australian Government will provide a free blood test for PFAS for people who live or work, or who have lived or worked, in the Williamtown, NSW and Oakey, QLD, Investigation Areas and who have potentially been exposed to PFAS.

For more information about the voluntary blood testing program please refer to the attached Department of Health – Factsheet: Voluntary Blood Testing Program. Where individual consent is given, the PFAS blood test results may be used as part of an epidemiological study to improve the understanding of the potential health effects relating to PFAS exposure.

For more information about the epidemiological study please refer to the attached Department of Health – Factsheet: Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): an epidemiological study.

Further information about PFAS, including Health initiatives to address PFAS contamination and information for GPs, is available on the Health website.

The Australian Government is aware that some non-government organisations are promoting blood testing for PFAS to the communities surrounding PFAS contaminated sites, such as Williamtown, NSW and Oakey, QLD. Any blood testing that is conducted outside of the parameters of the Voluntary Blood Testing Program arrangements will not be funded by the Australian Government.

Department of Defence interim blood testing arrangements

While the Voluntary Blood Testing Program was being developed, the Department of Defence established interim arrangements to reimburse individuals in the Williamtown, NSW and Oakey QLD investigations areas who have already obtained blood tests. These interim arrangements will cease now that the Voluntary Blood Testing Program has commenced.

If you are seeking either reimbursement or payment of blood testing conducted on, or before 30 November 2016, please follow Defence’s guidance regarding its interim arrangements in the attached Department of Defence - PFAS Blood Testing Fact Sheet - October 2016. If required, the Reimbursement of PFAS Blood Test form is attached for your convenience

Additional assistance. For enquiries about the Voluntary Blood Testing Program please contact Health at pfas@health.gov.au.  For enquiries about the AACO Environmental Investigation, please contact the project information hotline on 1800 136 129 or email defence.oakey.anz@aecom.com.

Defence Oakey Project Team:  P: 1800 136 129 E: Defence.Oakey.anz@aecom.com W: www.defence.gov.au/id/Oakey

SENATE INQUIRY - ADF SUICIDE (March 2017):   Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee inquiry into suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel.  Submissions were due by 7 October and the Senate Committee will report back by 30 March 2017.  DFWA in conjunction with the RAAC Corp and RAAF Association guided the  development of ADSO’s submission and a supplementary submission. We will update this site as the matter progresses.  All submissions made to the Inquiry are available on the above link.

- Our Qld Branch also made a submission as well as a supplementary submission.

- Peter Thornton's submission titled "The Plight of ADF Personnel & Veterans - A History of ‘Yes Minister’ Reviews and Policies driven by “Dollars but no Sense" - is well worth a read.

- on 18 Nov 2016 the DFWA National President appeared before the Senate Committee.  Read more here and read his opening statement.  The full transcript of the Hearing is on the APH website.

PTSD:  DFWA has made a number of our submissions on this matter

HEARING AIDS:  DFWA made a statement about this matter here.

RAAF F111 DESEAL - RESEAL PROGRAM:  DFWA has had a long standing involvement with the health problems experienced by RAAF F111 aircraft maintainers and was one of the advocates for the health study of those members. We continue to maintain a watching brief on further aspects of this health problem particularly to research findings that may have applicability to other ADF members. DFWA is a member of the Consultative Forum for the research presently being conducted for Defence by the Mater Medical Institute.  Read our 2008 submission on this matter.

ADF FIREFIGHTERS AND HEALTH:  A study commissioned by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council was a cohort study of cancer mortality and other possible health outcomes in Australian and New Zealand fire-fighters and Defence has supported this study so that former and currently serving ADF fire fighting categories can be included. DFWA is maintaining a watching brief on this study.

AGENT ORANGE AND PROSTATE CANCER:  Nearly 10% of the former South Vietnam was sprayed with the 'Agent Orange' between 1962 and 1971. A recent US study involving 13,000 US Vietnam veterans has showed that veterans exposed to Agent Orange have greatly increased risks of prostate cancer and even greater risks of getting the most aggressive form of the disease as compared to those who were not exposed. The findings, published in the September 15 issue of the international journal CANCER, are the first to link the herbicide with this disease.  Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are encouraged to discuss these findings with their general practitioner and consider the need for prostate screening tests. DFWA has written to DVA requesting a response to this new evidence.

Links to some Health related matters prior to 2009 are below:

 

18 SEPTEMBER 2008
Dfwa Submission - Mental Health Review - Sep 08
PDF
27 JANUARY 2009
Submission – Defence Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2008
PDF
17 JUNE 2010
Submission to DVA Pharmaceutical Costs Review
PDF


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