DFWA advocates for policies, not politicians nor political parties.
The Greens do not have a stand-alone veterans’ policy package for the 2022 Federal Election; however, they do have a suite of policies that specifically affect veterans and have existing veteran policy positions which the Greens have advised remain current.
The details of those policies are extracted below.
Federal Election 2022 Platform Policies
Scrap the $498 million War Memorial redevelopment and end arms manufacturer and corporate sponsorship of the War Memorial.
The ADF is in crisis. An institutional culture permissive of mental and physical abuse – and war crimes, as the Brereton report revealed in 2020– has led to high rates of mental illness and suicide among serving personnel and veterans. It’s a vicious cycle that must be broken, and we must make amends to both personnel and civilians that have already experienced harm.
Establish a redress scheme for personnel who have experienced violence and abuse through defence institutions during their time of service.
Increase the availability of psychological and other wellbeing-based supports for serving personnel to address the high rates of suicide and other mental health issues.
In the last parliament, it was the Greens who:
- Introduced War Powers legislation which would require both houses of parliament to vote before deploying our defence forces overseas.
- Pushed for truth and accountability following the release of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report, the Brereton Report, which found credible evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by Australian Special Forces personnel during the Afghanistan war.
- Worked with the community for the establishment of a Royal Commission into Veterans’ Suicide.
- Campaigned alongside the Canberra community against the destruction and corporatisation of the Australian War Memorial.
Existing Veteran Policy Positions
Holistic Review of Veterans’ Entitlements
The current veterans’ entitlements system is a mess. Rates of entitlement are inconsistent and arbitrary. Application and assessment processes are labyrinthine and circuitous. For many veterans, the bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is a barrier to getting what they are entitled to.
The Greens would undertake a root and branch review of the veterans’ entitlement system. The review would determine whether current entitlements are sufficient and whether current eligibility criteria are fair, including access to health cards, disability pensions, housing, and superannuation arrangements. We need to understand whether entitlements have kept pace with changes in the cost of living. The Greens’ believe funding should be guaranteed for medically certified needs, and should not be subject to any arbitrary budget cap.
This review would also recommend a redesign of the entitlements process to make it more legible and accessible, and recommend an overhaul of the delivery of support services. Complaints about DVA are on the rise which is an indicator that the system is failing. The review of service delivery should consider assigning each veteran a liaison officer to act as a single point of contact to navigate the system.
Appeal mechanisms for veterans’ are also in need of reform. The Greens support the establishment of a single pathway for appeals of entitlement decisions.
Veterans’ Mental Health
The monitoring of veterans’ health and wellbeing needs to be vastly improved. There is currently no coordinated process for collecting information on the health of veterans. The Greens would require Defence and DVA to report annually to the parliament on the ‘state of mental health’ of current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members. This would include data on the rates of mental ill-health, homelessness and other indicators of stress among veterans.
The Greens’ would also require Defence to provide a full report to parliament on the administration of mefloquine and other anti-malarial drugs to ADF members, including the number of ADF members administered these drugs, their consent to this administration, and the dosage administered.
Moral injury is an emerging concept that refers to feelings of grief, shame and regret that might result from things seen or done during conflict. Moral injury seeks to describe the psychological, spiritual and cultural disconnect that veterans might have upon returning home.
This is not a new phenomenon. Many veterans don’t want to talk about their war service because of how removed it is from domestic life. Naming this experience can help give it legitimacy and encourage veterans to seek help with any difficulties they are having and improve their mental wellbeing. The Greens support the Defence and ADF formally recognising moral injury and developing a program to help identify and treat veterans who are suffering.
There is conflicting evidence about the rates of homelessness among veterans. DVA suggest that no more than 300 veterans are of no-fixed-address, but veterans’ groups suggest the real figure is as much as ten times this. Irrespective, the fact that any veteran gets to the point where they don’t have regular shelter is an indicator that the system is failing. And nearly all veterans that identify as being homeless are suffering some form of mental ill-health, and this mental ill-health has often progressed further as a result of their homelessness.
The Australian Greens believe that there needs to be an injection of funding into programs addressing homelessness. Homes for Heroes is a rehabilitation service that provides ongoing psychosocial support for veterans. It has been very successful at connecting with veterans and helping them stabilise their lives. The Greens’ would provide $10 million annually to Homes for Heroes for them to expand the reach of their services.
The Greens also believe that well-resourced veterans’ groups, such as the RSL, should call upon their reserves to provide further support for these programs.