The 2016/17 Defence Annual Report (page 116) discusses the critical outcomes determined during the first 12 months of the process of transitioning out of Defence, in the section titled “Fit to fight and fit for life”. The report highlights increased collaboration between the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and Defence since 2010 in the area of mental health support. The 2016/17 Department of Veterans’ Affairs Annual Report states that the transition from Defence is a priority for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in the Secretary’s Review (page 4) and the Chief Operating Officer’s Review (page 7). DVA also reports on various transition programs (pages 36 65) and training for Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs) (page 39).
Despite increased collaboration and access to care, in the 2017 Senate Veteran Suicide inquiry concerns were still being raised about the model via which care is provided. Secondly, the role of ESOs—specifically their role in supporting this transition period—does not appear to be defined despite a new body of work by DVA to lift the standards of claims and pension support by ESO Advocates.
The Defence Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will inquire into three specific areas relating to the discharge and transition to civilian life of men and women who have served in the ADF having regard to:
1. The barriers that prevent ESOs from effectively engaging with ADF members, the Department of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs to provide more effective support to ADF Personnel as they transition out of service;
2. The model of mental health care while in ADF service and through the transition period to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs;
3. The efficacy of whole of government support to facilitate the effective transition to employment in civilian life of men and women who have served in the ADF; and
4. Any related matters.
In regards to point 2, the committee may consider:
- Limitations of the current services being provided by the private and state health systems
- Whether the waiting times and service limitations of the state systems, particularly mental health care, are acceptable for veterans needing treatment
- Documentation of treatment response for PTSD and improvements of treatment outcomes, given the limitations of current evidence based interventions
- The responsiveness of Defence and DVA to emerging international knowledge in the care of veterans and the advice of health professionals
- The optimal structure and range of services that could be provided by a national network of clinics for ADF members and Veterans were a different approach adopted.