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National E-News – March 2020

Contemporary Veterans’ Issues

DFWA is keen to emphasise to DVA the needs of the contemporary veteran. To do this we need veterans of the recent generations to identify issues that can be advanced to DVA. This is done through the Younger Veterans’ Contemporary Needs Forum which, despite its name, is a forum for issues affecting currently and recently serving Defence members regardless of age. The forum meets four times a year. Submissions and issues can also be addressed out of session.

If we don’t know – DFWA cannot do!

Superannuation Invalidity Benefits and Family Law Asset Splitting

Where MSBS or DFRDB invalidity benefits are asset-split through a family court order, the component paid to the ex-spouse is no longer included as income for MRCA/DRCA incapacity payment calculations.

For example – if a veteran with a Class A benefit of $50k pa has that income split in a family court decision and ends up only receiving $25k pa, DVA now only offsets the $25k from any MRCA/DRCA incapacity payment, not the full $50k.

If this affects you, you should contact your DVA delegate to have your incapacity payments reviewed as DVA is unable to automatically identify individuals affected.

This is a win for veterans. DFWA would like to recognise the work done by our collaborators Veteran Clawback in advocating for this policy change.

Retrospective medical discharge training to be included in ATDP

Advocates need more and better training with respect to retrospective medical discharges though CSC schemes.

Retrospective Medical Discharges and Tax Protocols

DFWA is seeking to expedite the development of new tax protocols that DVA, CSC and ATO have been working on to deal with superannuation invalidity benefit offsetting of MRCA/DRCA incapacity payments.

Although offsetting has been part of the legislative framework for over three decades, tax protocol in use prior to June 2019 was identified as not fit for purpose. The three agencies have been working since June 2019 to develop new protocols which comply with relevant legislation.

The cohort affected are those veterans who have been approved a retrospective medical discharge since June 2019, where the incapacity payments that DVA seeks to recover exceed the superannuation after-tax back-payment lump sum. The longer a veteran was in receipt of incapacity payments before retrospective medical discharge, the more likely the veteran is to be affected by this issue.

Until the protocol is approved and offsetting of the lump sums occur, affected veterans are being denied access to the component of their lump sum to which they are entitled to.

Let us know of other issues affecting the veteran community

If you are experiencing issues accessing veterans’ services or interacting with government agencies such as DVA or CSC then let us know. We can only advocate for change if we are aware a change is needed.

Consider Donating

The Defence Force Welfare Association advocates for issues affecting current and former members of the Australian Defence Force, including: health and wellbeing, compensation schemes, superannuation and retirement benefits, and Defence Force remuneration and pay cases

Please consider donating to the Association. Your donations will enable this important policy advocacy on behalf of current and former members of the Australian Defence Force, as well as their families.

The Unique Nature of Military Service

With the passing of the Military Covenant into law in late 2019, many people still don’t realise just how military service is unique. Military service may have some similarities to other occupations or employment, but when you look at military service as a whole, it really is unique. Here are just a few examples as to why:

  • ADF members may be ordered to kill other human beings, either personally, or indirectly by ordering or enabling other ADF members to do so.
  • ADF members may be ordered to do things that may result in them being killed or severely wounded, or to order or enable other ADF members to do those things.
  • ADF members may be subject to severe penalties, including imprisonment, for not following those orders. There are also penalties for other infringements such as being late or using insulting language.
  • ADF members are not employees so do not have the same employment protections as the rest of society. They may not join a union and are unable to negotiate pay and conditions.
  • The training ADF members undertake is designed to instil an instinctive obedience and to prioritise the team over individual needs. These instincts become ingrained, part of their personality—part of who they are as people.

If you are talking to people about the military, or writing to your parliamentarian about veteran issues, you can remind them that military service is fundamentally unique: the reciprocal obligation placed on the State—to veterans—is as inescapable as it is enduring.