Wednesday, 26 February 2020
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020; Second Reading
I will move on now to veterans. There is a large veteran community living in my electorate, with more than 1,000 men and women who have served our country, and have served our country well. There are three RSLs in Moncrief—Nerang, Surfers Paradise and Southport—and Gold Coast veterans and their families will benefit from the Department of Veterans' Affairs, known as DVA, Building Excellence in Support and Training—BEST—grants program. This funding will help Gold Coast ex-service and community organisations to continue to put veterans and their families first.
The Vietnam Veterans' Federation received a $135,506 grant through the Department of Veterans' Affairs, known as DVA, BEST grants program. This funding means the federation can continue to provide support through their advocacy service to all local military veterans and war widows by assisting them with their entitlements and their claims. The service of the advocates is in very high demand because of their skills and outstanding records of results. It's through the dedication and hard work of ex-service and community organisations that veterans and their families receive services, support and opportunities that allow them to continue having active roles in their local communities.
We've also established a national commissioner and family advocate for veterans' affairs. This powerful new body will tackle the very difficult area of ADF and veteran suicides. This means we will get to the bottom of each and every case and learn lessons that can help improve the lives of our veterans and their families into the future. The government also supports transition to civilian life for at-risk veterans. Research shows that veterans under 30 who are involuntarily discharged are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population. We want to ensure that they get the support they need as they navigate the range of government services on offer.
We invest in programs that support young and vulnerable veterans who leave the Defence Force. The government has invested a record $11 billion to support 280,000 veterans and their families each year, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs reforms has resulted in shorter waiting times for claims. The Morrison government has also launched the Australian veterans card and lapel pin so that veterans can be appropriately recognised by businesses and the community for their service to our community.
To summarise, I would like to outline to those opposite that the Morrison government is delivering for Australians—day in, day out; week in, week out; sitting week in, sitting week out—and I think they need to have a good look at themselves, stop playing politics and look at what we're doing for Australians around the country.