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Research funding for Office of Veterans' Affairs

Embargoed until 1.00am 24 June 2000 Media Statement

Research funding for Office of Veterans' Affairs

The Office of Veterans' Affairs is to establish a research capability to provide information on the health status of the children of Vietnam and Operation Grapple veterans, the Minister of Veterans' Affairs Mark Burton has announced.

"Additional funding of $100,000 has been allocated in the 2000/2001 Budget to allow the Office to conduct the research," Mark Burton said.

In May 1998 the previous Government announced an inquiry into the health status of children of Vietnam and Operation Grapple veterans. An advisory committee headed by Sir Paul Reeves presented its report in June 1999.

The committee concluded, that on the basis of the available evidence, the findings did not support the perception of veterans and their children that their health has been harmed by military service. However, it was not possible to say beyond doubt that there is no connection between a veteran's exposure to chemicals or radiation and the health of his children.

"Many veterans and their children were disappointed with the findings of the Inquiry," Mark Burton said. "For example, only spina bifida was classified as having "limited/suggestive evidence of association." All other conditions were classified as having insufficient evidence of association.

"The Government is determined to respond to and validate veterans' concerns. Accordingly, we have ensured that the Office of Veterans' Affairs has the necessary funding to establish a research capability to provide information on the health of veterans' children. By drawing on international research, it is possible that causal links to a range of conditions may be identified.

"The Office has established a formal register of the children of veterans. I would encourage all Vietnam and Operation Grapple veterans to register their children with the office, whether or not their children currently have disabilities or health problems.

"The Office will also be working with the Ministry of Health to heighten the awareness of health professionals to the health needs of veterans and their children, including identifying possible causal links.

"I believe that these initiatives are important steps towards meeting the concerns of veterans and their children, and they will help us respond to specific health issues which may be identified by the research," Mark Burton said.

ENDS

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