Appointing a State Minister for Veterans’ Affairs is one priority in a package of proposals by RSL Queensland to improve the health and wellbeing of current and former Defence personnel and their families.
RSL Queensland State President Stewart Cameron applauded the State Opposition’s announcement today that it would implement a veterans’ affairs policy if it won Government and called for bipartisan support for improved representation for current and former servicemen and women.
Mr Cameron also called for bipartisan support for RSL Queensland’s recently released raft of health, employment and education recommendations to ensure a better deal for veterans in Queensland.
Key initiatives include:
- Payroll tax deductions for employers who hire veterans or their spouses.
- A public service veteran employment program with an initial target of 200 jobs per year.
- Dedicated health service and hospital beds for veterans requiring intensive support for mental health and/or drug and alcohol abuse.
- Coordinated data collection on veteran suicide.
- School enrolment guarantees for relocated ADF families.
Read the full RSL Queensland Position Document – Establishment of a Veterans’ Affairs Minister in the Queensland Government.
Mr Cameron said whoever won the right to govern Queensland at the next state election needed to do more for veterans.
“Veterans in need are falling through the cracks and it is time for a Queensland Government to step up to the plate,” Mr Cameron said.
“The Federal Government, through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, delivers welfare and compensation programs but it’s now time for the State Government to demonstrate its commitment to veterans too.”
Mr Cameron said New South Wales already had a state veterans’ affairs minister but the next Queensland Government had an opportunity to lead the country in delivering payroll tax incentives to employers for the first year.
“This would develop a community of businesses strongly motivated to employ ex-servicemen and women, enabling veterans to transition effectively from serving the nation to working within the community,” he said.
Mr Cameron said more than 35,000 RSL Queensland members had been encouraged to lobby their local Members of Parliament – regardless of political persuasion – to seek a commitment to the creation of a Veterans’ Affairs portfolio.
“We know one in three veterans faces unemployment when they leave the ADF and they aren’t the only ones caught in a jobless cycle,” he said.
“Because ADF personnel are reposted every two years, their partners also have to find new employment, which can be difficult.
“State Government initiatives to encourage private employers and a public service jobs target would provide practical, meaningful assistance to ADF families and veterans.”
Mr Cameron said the system was also failing vulnerable veterans who presented to hospital with mental health or drug and alcohol issues.
“We know young veterans are admitting themselves to hospital because they recognise they need help but many are turned away or sent home without proper treatment,” he said.
“The next State Government must guarantee a bed to any veteran who presents to a state-run health facility, until they are stable enough to be transferred to a health service covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Mr Cameron said RSL Queensland had been working for the veteran community for more than a century and would continue its fight for a better deal for the 174,000 former and current service personnel living in this state.
“Our servicemen and women risk their lives overseas but often feel they are let down at home,” he said.
“This is an opportunity for the next Queensland Government to lead the country with groundbreaking initiatives for veterans.”