Queensland's Mates4Mates veterans' program would be expanded nationally to assist the new wave of servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a new approach to caring for veterans announced by the Australian Greens today.
Spokesperson for Veterans Affairs Senator Penny Wright and Queensland Greens senate candidate and former Australian Defence Forces Colonel Stuart Yeaman AM today announced a range of initiatives to improve care for Australia's current and future veterans and their families.
"Many of our Australia's 372,800 veterans suffer mental ill-health as a result of their service, and we must learn from the experiences of past veteran groups to ensure we care for our veterans in the best possible way," Senator Wright said.
"We want to support services like Mates4Mates and Men's Sheds, because they are an effective way of countering the stigma around mental ill-health and supporting those who need help.
"The Australian Greens are also committing to helping the families of veterans by increasing funeral benefits, carers allowances and allowing close relatives of veterans killed in service to access counselling.
"We have the greatest respect for the men and women who have served Australia on our behalf and we believe we have a responsibility to care them and their families when they return home."
Other initiatives under the Australian Greens veterans affairs policy announced today include:
- Funding research into the specific needs of female veterans.
- Recognising the service of British and Commonwealth Occupation Forces and the Australian Women's Land Army, giving them access to the services and benefits they deserve.
- Ensuring injured service personnel are not financially disadvantaged while they are being treated.
Mr Yeaman said the Australian Greens' policies announced today would improve the way we recognise those who have given so much of themselves to their country.
"As an ex- serviceman, I personally know many soldiers who have returned from recent conflicts that are still troubled by mental stress and know of the hurt this causes their families.
"The ADF has always stood up for what matters whether protecting the country or aiding those suffering in war or disaster. It is appropriate the Australian Greens - a party that stands up for what matters in the community - also stands up strongly for those who have served their nation so admirably."
The Australian Greens Caring for Veterans package included 16 initiatives, costed at a combined total of $114.6 million. Read more here: http://greensmps.org.au/caring-for-veterans.