Thursday, 5 December 2019
Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Single Treatment Pathway) Bill 2019
I seek leave to make a short statement to the Senate in relation to a non-controversial bill that was handled earlier.
In relation to the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Single Treatment Pathway) Bill 2019, there was, I understand, an agreement that there would be some words put on the record, which was overlooked. I want to state on behalf of the Minister for Defence that the government is very pleased that through constructive discussions and encouragement between Senator Patrick and the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, the intent of Senator Patrick's amendment he had foreshadowed, which was to enable more timely access to essential mental health services for veterans, can now be achieved through other proposed new arrangements.
In short, the Department of Veterans' Affairs is able to leverage new health contracting arrangements to expedite access to mental health care for all veterans. If a veteran, for whatever reason, is unable to easily access local mental health services through DVA's already extensive national network of providers, DVA will ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to enable them to access alternative timely arrangements, including through the Defence health contract. We will release further details of the new arrangements once finalised. The government appreciates Centre Alliance's constructive advocacy for veterans. I thank the Senate.