Mr CHESTER (Gippsland—Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC and Deputy Leader of the House) (14:56): I thank the member for Dawson for his question and his great interest in and, in fact, advocacy on behalf of veterans in his community and currently serving ADF personnel. I note from the outset the unique nature of military service and acknowledge the member for Canning, the member for Fadden, the member for Eden-Monaro and the member for Solomon, all of whom have served in uniform. I take this opportunity, as I do on many occasions when I travel throughout Australia, to thank those who served—to simply say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ To each and every one of them who is listening today: thank you for that unique service you provide.
We’re determined as a government to make sure that we are putting veterans first and putting veterans’ families first. This is a government which is determined to get on with the job of delivering for our veteran community. We want to see a safer, stronger and better Australia where everyone can get ahead together. Veterans certainly share in the benefits of our strong economic plan. As a nation, we have every reason to be proud of the level of support we provide for our veterans and their families. More than $11 billion per year is provided to veterans and their families. In the order of 290,000 veterans and their families receive some form of support from the Australian people. Each year, there is more than $5 billion provided for health and community services to our veterans, with nearly $200 million allocated for veterans’ mental health services. This includes more than nine million individual medical and dental services for our veterans and their families.
The government has also sought to reform the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Keep in mind that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs this year commemorates its 100th anniversary. We are working with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to make sure it is ready for the next 100 years. In this year’s and last year’s budgets, we’ve invested in the order of $280 million in this important reform package, which will transform every aspect of DVA’s systems to make sure it does provide for the needs of our veterans and their families into the future.
Our strong economic plan also benefits veterans when it comes time to transition out of the ADF. That transition period can be difficult for some of our members. In the order of 6,000 members transition each year. On transition from the ADF, veterans will benefit from the record number of jobs that are being created under this government. There’s no question that a strong economic plan providing strong economic conditions for jobs growth does benefit the veteran community.
I’d also like to acknowledge the last post ceremony tonight at the Australian War Memorial, which the Prime Minister and the shadow minister will be attending. We will be participating in an event recognising all the women—ex-serving women, current serving women, wives, sisters, children and widows—who have participated in and supported the Defence Force over the past 100 years. Australia is rightly proud of their service, and I know all members would be proud of the service of women in the ADF. There is no role that women can’t perform in the modern Australian Defence Force.
So I’d like to thank the member for Dawson for his interest. I’d like to assure him that the Morrison-McCormack government is focused on delivering for all our veterans and supporting their families.