ONE item unlikely to gain any traction during the forthcoming federal election will be the treatment of former members of the Australian Defence Force by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Unlike countries, the USA and UK for example, where the treatment of veterans is front and centre at election time, there will be little if any mention of veteran's affairs on Australia's election hustings.
Between the Department of Veterans Affairs' slow handling of claims and almost constantly changing staff, you seldom get to speak to the same person twice. It continues to frustrate even the most even-tempered of clients. The amount of red tape confronting those making a claim continues to make Centrelink look good in comparison.
Further, to the outsider it appears that staff training is inadequate for the task at hand. A Cootamundra man who in 2018 made a claim stemming from his National Service was at first advised that he was not eligible to claim because he had not served for three years. The fact that National Service in the 1960s and early 1970s was for a maximum period of two years appears to have escaped these staff, as has the 1973 Termination of National Service Act.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has stated that the rate of suicide by male former members of the ADF is 13 per cent higher than that of other Australian males. While the Department of Veterans Affairs is assisting former serving members who have mental health issues by providing access to health professionals, I believe the slowness of claim approvals continues to adversely impact on claimants.
Hopefully the forthcoming election will bring not only promises of new roads, rail and sports facilities but will include a better deal for those that have served in our military forces.
- For crisis support: Lifeline, 13 11 14
Mike Sargent, Cootamundra
TOLL GOES BEYOND BATTLES
ANZAC Day may hold a different significance to various people, but I would like to speak up for the hundreds that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for serving their country after returning home.
I, apparently unlike governments of both persuasions, believe that these souls and their families should be treated to the same honour and recognition as those that died on the battlefield. If you believe this also, I would like you to make your political representative aware that they have an ongoing responsibility to these young Australians that they send all over the world and require the guts to face up to end results.
- For crisis support: Lifeline, 13 11 14
Allan Earl, Beresfield
MATHS DEBUNKS THE MYTH
IT'S a shame that Glenn Jones (Letters 13/04) didn't check that "the bulk of the money is sent to private schools". According to the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) annual report on schools, government funding overwhelmingly favours public schools. Every year public schools receive around $45 billion in total government funding, almost $18,000 per student.
By contrast, private schools receive around $15 billion in funding, just over $10,000 per student. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Parliamentary Budget Office concur with the ACARA assessment.
With public schools receiving three times the total funding of private schools, and nearly 80 per cent more funding per student, surely it is time to put this myth to bed.
Scott Hillard, New Lambton
A HEALTHY DOSE OF OPTIONS
LAST night I was pleased to meet Gayle Brown and discuss the issues she raised in last Friday's Herald (Letters 12/4).
It is so true that we do not always receive good health outcomes because our medical professionals are not covered to pay for practical advice and/or training to correct a practice that we have done for years that compromises our health.
For example, shallow breathing, poor posture when standing or walking and poor eating skills; if done better, all will improve our health and save in the long term on our health costs. These sorts of things are not listed on the Medicare schedule for one reason or another.
It was not that long ago that physiotherapy was frowned upon by many in the health services and yet today it is a very big part of the recovery process of many people's health issues. Surely delivery of health care must include all things that will improve one's health, even if it is training to stop a bad practise and replace it with a good practise so as our body will begin to heal itself. Medicine is more than drugs to take or to apply on a person's body.
I believe it is time for a re-think in health delivery. It's time to go beyond maintenance and to deliver recovery from poor health.
Milton Caine, Birmingham Gardens
CHANGE SLOW AS TRAINS
IN recent times there have been calls to introduce a faster train to Newcastle, something like the old Newcastle Flyer, due to the need for faster services from Wickham to Sydney. I believe this would be a good idea because it would attract more people to public transport, which would relieve traffic congestion in Sydney, Newcastle and on the M1 Motorway.
Such a move would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, I seem to remember that when the Flyer was running it had problems keeping up with the timetable. The main reason was a lack of track space between Hornsby and North Strathfield. Services used to get caught behind the suburbans in both the up and down directions. The suburbans had priority as they carried more voters. Apart from the down relief line between West Ryde and Pennant Hills, there are still only two tracks. I remember this used to cause no end of problems with the freight trains as well.
Faster services won't really be possible until there are at least four running lines between North Strathfield and Hornsby. I also believe that realignment of the railway should happen as well, but from what I understand no-one wants to resume the land that would be required.
Some say we will need better trains for a faster service to Sydney. That may be true, but we won't see the full benefit of such trains unless they can be run to their full potential. For that, there will need to be appropriate track for them to run on. For that to happen, we will need the political will.