July 2017

Read the latest VA News - July 2017 [PDF, 1.9 MB]

In this issue

Update on Review of the Veterans' Support Act's Operation

Professor Ron Paterson has been appointed to lead a review of the operation of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014.

Professor Paterson is a Professor of Law at Auckland University, and a former Health and Disability Commissioner and Ombudsman. He has law degrees from Auckland and Oxford Universities, and has held Fulbright and Harkness Fellowships. Professor Paterson was awarded an ONZM for services to health in 2011.

Why is there a review?

The Veterans’ Support Act 2014 is very different from the old Act that it replaced (the War Pensions Act 1954), so Parliament built in a provision requiring that the Chief of Defence Force review the new Act after two years to make sure that it’s operating as intended.

The review will give veterans and their families an opportunity to have their say about how well the new Act is working in practice.

An independent person has been chosen to do the review, so there is an external and impartial perspective on how the Act is working.

What is the review about?

The review will look at whether the Act is meeting its purpose of providing rehabilitation and support to veterans who have been injured or become ill as a result of being placed in harm’s way in the service of New Zealand.

Following an engagement and consultation period, the reviewer will report on how effectively the new Act is working and may make recommendations. Areas likely to be considered are: where more clarity is needed; whether the needs of veterans could be better met; and whether the new Act is flexible enough to manage the provision of fair and reasonable entitlements for eligible veterans and their families.

The review will be overseen by the Vice Chief of Defence Force, Air-Vice Marshal Kevin Short.

When is it happening?

The review has just started. In December, Professor Paterson will report his findings and recommendations to the Chief of Defence Force, who will submit the report to the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, for tabling in Parliament. The Government will consider the report and decide whether any changes need to be made.

Information on the review, including a copy of the review’s terms of reference, can be found on the New Zealand Defence Force website at www.nzdf.mil.nz/corporate-documents/vsa (external link)

How can you take part in the review?

Professor Paterson wants to hear what you think – what works well in the Act, and what could be improved or requires change. You will be able to contribute either by sending a written submission to the Review, or by attending consultation meetings which are going to be held in various locations around the country.

Consultation meetings are planned in:

  • Whangarei on 11 August
  • Auckland on 9 August
  • Tauranga on 18 August
  • Gisborne on 25 August
  • Napier on 1 September
  • Palmerston North on 5 September
  • Wellington on 4 September
  • Christchurch on 8 September
  • Dunedin on 7 September,
  • and Invercargill on 6 September.

Details of venues and meeting times will be published on the New Zealand Defence Force website at www.nzdf.mil.nz/corporate-documents/vsa (external link) in mid-late July.

You can email the Review at review.vsa@nzdf.mil.nz

Message from Professor Paterson

I’m delighted to be leading this important review. My independent team is looking forward to hearing from you about what works well in the Veterans’ Support Act, what could be improved and what requires change. I’m keen to meet veterans and their families at our meetings during the consultation phase of the review. Please keep your eye out for announcements about when the review team will be in your area.

You can also send us an email or letter, at any time during the review, at review.vsa@nzdf.mil.nz or by post to The VSA Review Team at the New Zealand Defence Force, Private Bag 39997, Wellington 6145.

Children’s Bursary Success

This bursary is available to eligible children if studying at a secondary school or tertiary institution in New Zealand only.

Bridget received a Children’s Bursary, and completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Canterbury. Bridget went on to complete a Master of Urban Planning with Second Class Honours at University of Auckland.

“This financial support was an important factor in helping her to succeed. It’s a valuable part of the range of support that Veterans’ Affairs provides to veterans and their families, and we really appreciated it” says Mike.

Arts Therapy pilot to run

Veterans’ Affairs is working with Rannerdale Veterans’ Care to trial a new approach to enhancing quality of life.

Together the two organisations are conducting an arts therapy pilot for older New Zealand veterans.

The pilot is looking at how arts therapy could improve the quality of life for veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The hope is that this research will be the first stage of in using arts therapy more widely for veterans in New Zealand.

Case study

Russ served in the Second World War and is diagnosed with service related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Following a stroke he was unable to verbally express himself or communicate his feelings, which in turn led to depression.

Veterans’ Affairs is working with Russ, his treatment provider, and his family to provide arts therapy treatment. Although Russ initially found it exhausting, he now feels stimulated by it. He is able to communicate more, his overall health has improved, and he is now having fewer flashbacks.

Soldier’s Five: Veteran’s Journey

‘Soldiers Five: A Veteran’s Journey’ was a collaborative art exhibition that highlights the feelings of isolation, determination, and hope that many veterans face while they transition out of the Armed Forces.

The exhibition, which showed in the Bowen House Gallery Space in Parliament Buildings, features the work of former and current service personnel Matt Gauldie, Trevor Mills, and Tim Wilson. Their combined service with the New Zealand Defence Force has included tours in Afghanistan, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands.

The trio created the exhibition with the aim of raising awareness and support for two key veteran services – Rannerdale Veterans' Care and No Duff. The exhibition also highlighted the power of arts therapy in helping those who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Nelson gets new memorial area

The centenary of the First World War has prompted a number of commemorative projects throughout the country. One such project is the recently opened memorial area within the service cemetery at Marsden Valley in Nelson.

This was the vision of Air Force Sergeant Mason Robinson. Having seen a memorial featuring a First World War soldier in Sydney two years ago, he was inspired to see something similar in Nelson.

This vision was realised on Saturday 15 April when, accompanied by a flypast from the Air Force’s Black Falcons, the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs unveiled the new memorial area.

Constructed by engineers from the Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment, the memorial area includes a statue by Oamaru sculptor Donald Paterson.

Funding for the project came from a range of sources within the community, including the Lottery Grants Board, Rata Foundation, and Nelson City Council. Veterans’ Affairs also provided a contribution from the Commemorative Fund.

To find out more about the Commemorative Fund visit www.veteransaffairs.mil.nz/commemorative-fund

Spotlight on Iraq

More than a hundred New Zealand Defence Force troops returned home from Iraq earlier this month. The troops were the fourth rotation of Task Group Taji, a joint mission with the Australian Defence Force.

The task group, which deployed to Iraq in November 2016, has trained about 7,500 troops in the past six months. In addition to the Iraqi Army the group also trained Federal Police, Border Guards and Special Forces Rangers.

“The Iraqi forces are better prepared, more likely to succeed and have a greater chance of surviving because of the training we have helped deliver,” the Senior National Officer of the fourth rotation said.

“Many of the Iraqi forces our Task Group trained were sent to the frontlines in the northern city of Mosul, ISIS’ last urban stronghold in Iraq, as soon as they completed the six-week training programmes” he said.

Tracy Mayall, a case management team leader at Veterans’ Affairs confirmed that service in Iraq is considered Qualifying Operational Service.

“This means that troops coming back from Task Group Taji are able to get support from Veterans’ Affairs if they need it. Either now or later down the track” Tracy said.

Our service delivery partners

Over the last two years our new approach to contracting partners to provide the services we offer to veterans and their families has resulted in high-quality comprehensive services being made available. This approach has helped us to deliver more services, to more veterans, than ever before. Our partners are:

CrewCut

Lawn and garden services

  • Up to 700 square metres of lawn mowed fortnightly (or up to 26 mows annually)
  • Up to 2 hours of gardening a month

Foot Mechanics

Podiatry services – up to 8 sessions a year

HealthCare NZ

Up to 2 hours of home help a week

Green Cross

Centralised billing so that prescriptions for accepted conditions can be uplifted with no upfront payment.

Red Wolf

Medical alarms

Chemwash

External house cleaning, including:

  • 1 external house wash annually
  • 2 gutter cleans annually, and
  • 4 exterior window cleans annually

Peninsula Memorial

Memorials and plaques

If you want to talk to someone about the services provided by one of our partners, contact us – 0800 483 8372.

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