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Compensation and Rehabilitation for Veterans

Terms of reference

Inquiry into Veterans’ Affairs’ Legislative Framework and Supporting Architecture for Compensation and Rehabilitation for Veterans (Serving and Ex-serving Australian Defence Force Members)

I, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Treasurer, pursuant to Parts 2 and 3 of the Productivity Commission Act 1998, hereby request that the Productivity Commission undertake an inquiry into the system of compensation and rehabilitation for veterans (Serving and Ex-serving Australian Defence Force members).

Background

The recently released report of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee into Suicide by Veterans and Ex‑Service Personnel, The Constant Battle: Suicide by Veterans (Senate Inquiry) documents the complexity in the overall legislative framework for compensation and rehabilitation for veterans. Submissions to the review called for an inquiry into the interplay between the various acts, including the use of the Statements of Principles and the effectiveness of the administration by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

There have been many major reviews of veterans’ legislation and programs, particularly its compensation program, over the last 40 plus years. Consistent with observations made by the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, the Government is now seeking a comprehensive examination of how the current compensation and rehabilitation system operates and should operate into the future.

Scope

This Productivity Commission inquiry will examine whether the system of compensation and rehabilitation for veterans (Serving and Ex-serving Australian Defence Force members) is fit for purpose now and into the future. In undertaking the inquiry, the Productivity Commission should review the efficiency and effectiveness of the legislative framework for compensation and rehabilitation of ex-service personnel and veterans, and assess opportunities for simplification.

This framework includes the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988. The Productivity Commission should consider the interplay between the various pieces of legislation. It should also examine the effectiveness of the governance, administrative and service delivery arrangements that support the legislation (the ‘supporting architecture’).

The Productivity Commission should have regard to the current environment and challenges faced by veterans, including but not limited to:

  • whether the arrangements reflect contemporary best practice, drawing on experiences of Australian workers’ compensation arrangements and military compensation frameworks in other similar jurisdictions (local and international);
  • the use of the Statements of Principles as a means to contribute to consistent decision-making based on sound medical-scientific evidence; and
  • whether the legislative framework and supporting architecture delivers compensation and rehabilitation to veterans in a well targeted, efficient and veteran-centric manner.

The Productivity Commission will also consider issues raised in previous reviews.

Process

The Productivity Commission should undertake appropriate public consultation, including holding hearings (including in regional Australia), inviting public submissions and releasing a draft report to the public.

The final report should be provided to Government within 15 months.

The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Treasurer

[Received 27 March 2018]