Whatever your thoughts on the wars Australia has found itself embroiled in over the past few decades, it’s important to look after the men and women who served in Australia’s defence forces.
Today, on the eve of Anzac Day, the Coalition is promising to do more for Aussie veterans with a new $63 million package.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil the pledge in Darwin, during his campaigning efforts in the city today. Darwin is the home of 5,000 defence personnel, as well as a base for US Marines who Morrison is expected to visit while in town.
The Coalition will spend $30 million building veterans’ wellbeing centres in Darwin and other locations, if re-elected.
The centres would integrate government assistance, health services, advocacy and wellbeing support tailored to veterans.
Morrison is also expected to announce another $16.2 million to go to Soldier On, Team Rubicon and RSL state branches for programs to help former servicemen and women find meaningful civilian work after they leave the military.
The government will set aside $17 million to exempt veterans who are totally and permanently incapacitated from a new limit of 12 sessions with health providers such as physiotherapists.
This restriction was due to start on 1 July. The AAP reports that allied health workers told a Productivity Commission inquiry the measure was an ‘archaic’ model of care that would have led to people missing out on much-needed treatment.
Government on veterans’ side
Finally, the government is expected to make it easier for veterans to access schemes that help them to find a home and get building insurance after their service.
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester is quoted by AAP saying these are practical measures that veterans want.
‘I’ve met with hundreds of veterans this year and listened to their ideas on additional measures the government could take to support veterans in their communities,’ he said.
‘These are men and women who signed up to the Australian Defence Force prepared to put their lives on the line for our nation so we need to do more to both respect and recognise our returned service men and women.’
Over the weekend, Labor promised an extra $118 million in taxpayer cover for art therapy programs, upgrades to local war memorials, veteran funeral costs, and a Kokoda Trail master plan to conserve the historic track. In response, the Coalition has promised $10 million for local war memorials and another $10 million for commemoration projects in Papua New Guinea.
Mr Morrison is also expected to touch on what he calls the ‘economic vandalism’ of the Northern Territory’s Labor government, and speak about potential Coalition solutions to help grow the local economy.
AAP reports that this includes a new requirement that builders tendering for jobs worth at least $7.5 million—which are part of a $20 billion investment in Defence facilities in the Northern Territory—have a plan to hire local workers and use top end suppliers.
He will also promise $4 million of the next round of safer communities grants to be dedicated to the Northern Territory for installation of CCTV cameras, bollards, security systems and lighting.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who oversees the grants, says small businesses in the Territory are ‘facing a crime epidemic’.
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