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RSL NSW Veterans’ Services & Policy Committee
The RSL NSW Veterans Services & Policy Committee (VSPC) is the Committee of the RSL NSW Board that considers the effectiveness of veterans’ advocacy, policy, and services. Specifically, the VSPC is tasked with:
- Monitoring, reviewing, and making recommendations to the Board about the range, extent and effectiveness of the services provided, or to be provided, to veterans and their families by RSL NSW
- Considering, monitoring, and making recommendations to the RSL Board relating to any public policy position that would have significant implications for RSL NSW
- Recommending areas where RSL NSW and the wider RSL organisations can make representations to Government and other stakeholders to achieve beneficial changes in public policies or service provision
The VSPC is composed of the following members:
- David McCann (Chair) (RSL NSW Director)
- Ray James (RSL NSW Director & President)
- John Hutcheson (RSL NSW Director)
- Louise Sullivan (RSL NSW Director)
- Bronte Pollard (Vice-Chair) (Independent Service Member)
- Jonathan Tuckfield (Independent member)
- David Anderson (RSL LifeCare Representative)
- Luke Rix, (Independent member)
Activities of the Previous Meetings
At the past meeting of the VSPC on 11 October 2022, the Committee discussed a number of important member and veteran issues. These included:
- The ongoing Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, including RSL NSW’s ongoing contribution
- The activities of RSL LifeCare’s Veterans’ Programs and the National Centre for Veterans Healthcare
- Matters for consultation with RSL Australia and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
- The RSL NSW sub-Branch Wellbeing Index and the RSL NSW to the RSL Australia/Servulink ‘Catalogue of Services’ collaboration
- Changes in the treatment of military superannuation
- Discussed other veterans issues, including grants education for ex-service organisations, the issue of veterans in custody, and the provision of allied health arrangements via telehealth
Achievements and Impact of the VSPC
Some of the recent advocacy activities pursued by the VSPC, in conjunction the RSL nationally, are outlined below:
- Advocated for an increase in Veterans’ Home Care funding, which subsequently saw the Federal Government announce an additional $70.6 million in funding over four years to increase Veterans’ Home Care fees for domestic assistance and personal care services.
- Lobbied for an extension to the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment (PAMT) program, which provides access to medical treatment for 20 of the most commonly claimed conditions to veterans who have lodged a claim with DVA. The Federal Government recently committed $33 million to extend the program.
- Called for the expansion of the DVA Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Program (PADP), which matches highly-trained dogs with veterans diagnosed with PTSD to support them through their clinical recovery. The Federal Government recently announced an additional $22 million funding to expand the program.
- Working with Defence Reserves Association and Defence Force Welfare Association, the RSL has pushed for all Reservists to be covered by non-liability healthcare provisions.
- Working to secure demand-driven funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
- Resolving outstanding motions from RSL NSW Annual Congresses – progress can be seen here.
- Advocating for alignment in funeral benefits for veterans covered by the Veterans’ Entitlement Act with the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA)
- Advocating for funding and training of additional Compensation and Wellbeing Advocate mentors to improve training and availability of advocates in NSW and across Australia
- Pushed for RSL National to provide support to the Australian Defence Force Retirees’ Association (ADFRA), to help advocate on behalf of veterans covered by the DFRDB
- Veterans can continue to access exclusive telehealth services from allied health providers as a result of the RSL NSW Veteran Services and Policy Committee (VSPC) advocating for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to maintain telehealth-only treatment cycles
The RSL has a proud history of advocating for the health and wellbeing of its members, veterans, and their families. Through the work of RSL NSW President Ray James, the RSL NSW Veterans Services and Policy Committee (VSPC) and collaboration with the RSL nationally and other ESOs, RSL NSW remains a strong and relevant voice for veterans and those in the Defence community.