Care for wounded, injured and ill ADF personnel
1 August 2011
Working in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is a tough and at times dangerous job.
The care of wounded, injured and ill warriors - and the support of their families - is my highest priority. As Minister responsible for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, I am in the unique position to knit together support arrangements across departments.
The Gillard Government is committed to providing the highest quality medical care for our servicemen and women - regardless of whether they are on deployment, at home, or beyond their service.
Currently, ADF members separating for medical reasons receive assistance through a transition service managed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). This service is tailored and includes information on rehabilitation, compensation, income support and health services for service related conditions.
We have taken further steps to enhance this – from October DVA staff will be accommodated on 25 Defence bases to provide information and assistance to current serving members including at Campbell Barracks, RAAF Pearce and HMAS Stirling.
We have created the Support to Wounded, Injured or Ill Program (SWIIP) as a specialised, all encompassing program and the vehicle for realising a fundamental cultural shift within Defence and DVA for transitioning members.
Discharge from the ADF on health grounds is a last resort and only considered after it is determined that the member has a permanent condition which renders them unfit for continued service.
SWIIP will make the recipient the central focus of support and ensure both departments are focussed on outcomes, not process. It will reduce complexity involved in accessing support and ensure better integration.
Army is particularly focused on the management of wounded, injured and ill soldiers and has created a regionally-based framework that supports commanders at all levels in assisting the recovery of soldiers. New Army Regional Casualty Support Officer positions have been created to support this initiative, including one based at Leeuwin Barracks.
The ADF Paralympics Sports Program is a great example of innovation in supporting our people. In partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee, ADF personnel with an acquired disability can access sports medicine and science specialists to enable them to compete at the highest levels.
Access to front line health care for the ADF is being improved by the creation of “health precincts” and the major refurbishment of health facilities around the country – including Leeuwin Barracks where we are integrating mental health practitioners.
Significant changes have been made to improve the provision of mental health care across the ADF. Improvements are being made as part of a $92 million investment into Defence and DVA by Government include increasing the mental health workforce.
Other initiatives include the creation of the ADF Centre for Mental Health, to research best practice mental health intervention programs and to support and train ADF health providers in mental health care.
Defence has developed a comprehensive program of research, resilience training and pre and post-deployment screening, such as our BattleSMART (Self Management and Resilience Training) program. We’ve also sought to destigmatise mental health issues. The powerful DVD Dents in the Soul was launched where soldiers tell their own stories about developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and being successfully treated.
The current arrangements for ADF members result in a high return-to-work rate for rehabilitated members and provide good support for veterans – but as a Government we are taking steps to make a good support system even better.
It is clear that in the past some people have fallen through the cracks and it is our intent to prevent this in the future.
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs