Veteran wellbeing, mental health, homelessness and transition have been the focus of a meeting between federal, state and territory Ministers in Canberra today.
The Veterans Ministerial Council provides an opportunity for ministers responsible for veterans issues from across Australia to come together to discuss how different levels of government can collaborate to support veterans and their families.
Chair of the Council, Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester provided an update on the recent release of the Productivity Commission’s final report of its inquiry into compensation and rehabilitation for veterans, A Better Way to Support Veterans.
The importance of a successful and smooth transition from the Australian Defence Force was noted and Ministers discussed veterans’ employment and how federal, state and territory governments can work together more closely to improve and coordinate support for veterans and their families transitioning to civilian life.
Mr Chester advised a priority for the Council is veterans’ mental health and provided an update on the development of six Veterans’ Wellbeing Centres around Australia, as well as Director of Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, Professor David Forbes, delivering a presentation on the topic.
State and territory Ministers agreed to support the new Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan on veterans’ mental health and wellbeing and suicide prevention, which will be delivered by the end of the year.
The state and territory Ministers also discussed the benefits of including a question regarding Australian Defence Force service in the 2021 Census and looked forward to the upcoming decision from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on the matter.
There was a strong emphasis on the importance of continuing to improve cooperation between different levels of government, healthcare providers and the veteran community in order to ensure veterans and their families have the support they need, when and where they need it.
The need for a more coordinated approach with state and territory governments and the ex-service community on veteran homelessness, particularly when it comes to the collection of data and provision of on-the-ground services, was also discussed.
Ministers also agreed to work together on a quantitative research project to better understand and support veterans who find themselves incarcerated or dealing with the criminal justice system, including the establishment of a working group to commission, design and enable the research project.
Mr Chester briefed the Council on the Commonwealth’s plans to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the Second World War, with a particular focus on Victory in the Pacific.
As it was the first meeting of the Council since it was agreed to elevate the Veteran’s Ministers’ Roundtable to a Veterans Ministerial Council, the Council’s Terms of Reference were also considered and agreed to by members.