TODAY two reports were released regarding the incidence of homelessness in the ex-service community, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report in to Use of homelessness services by contemporary ex-serving Australian Defence Force members 2011-17: summary report, and the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s Homelessness amongst Australian veterans.
The two reports give different insights into the incidence of homelessness in the ex-service community. The Government’s priority is to ensure veterans and their families are being looked after through the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs.
The Federal Government is committed to putting veterans and their families first and has committed more than $11 billion this financial year to provide a wide range of support services.
There are many factors that can contribute to homelessness, including negative life events such as relationship breakdown, unemployment, and mental health issues. The Government has made a number of changes to improve the support available to veterans and their families who may find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness, including: free mental health care (known as Non-Liability Health Care), improved transition, Veteran Payments for veterans with mental health claims and their partners who are in need of urgent financial assistance, and committing to a network of Veteran Wellbeing Centres.
I am committed to working with ex-service organisations (ESOs) and all levels of government to reduce the number of veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and this will be a priority topic when I meet with state and territory ministers with responsibility for veterans’ affairs next week in Canberra at the Veterans Ministerial Council (VMC).
These reports and discussions with the VMC will be taken into account when developing a renewed Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Action Plan, which was a commitment made at the recent Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit. I encourage any former member of the ADF who is homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, to contact their local homelessness service, their local ESO, or call DVA on 1800 555 254 or the Open Arms counselling service on 1800 011 046.