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Veterans' package fact sheet

23 April 2001 Media Statement

Veterans' package fact sheet

Payments to ex-POWs of Japan

- The Government will make an ex gratia payment of $30,000 to ex POWs of Japan, civilian internees or their surviving spouse in recognition of the unique hardship they experienced.

- Dutch ex-prisoners of war of the Japanese will be included in any package announced by the Dutch Government.

- People who think they may be eligible should contact Office of Veterans’ Affairs, free phone 0800 4 VETERAN (0800 4 838 372) from tomorrow (24 April 2001).

Transfer of veteran’s pension legislation

- Legislation will be passed later this year for the Veteran’s Pension, an income support payment, to be transferred to the War Pensions Act 1954.

- Decisions on all war pension entitlements will then be made by one central body and overseen by the Secretary for War Pensions.

- Provision will be made to allow veterans of working age to undertake voluntary and some paid work without losing their entire Veteran’s Pension. They will have a ‘free-zone’ of up to $80 earnings per week, $0.30 abated for every $ earned between $80 and $180 a week, and $0.70 abated for every $ earned above $180 per week.

- The Secretary for War Pensions will have discretion to waive, where appropriate, the need for a stand down period and/or the need for a medical examination if veterans reapply for the pension after a period of employment.

Additional health services for children and families of Vietnam and Operation Grapple veterans

- The Government will give extra assistance to veterans' children who suffer from spina bifida and/or cleft lip/palate.

- Assistance will include top-ups to GP charges, pharmaceutical charges, support services and part charges for equipment.

- The Government appreciates that some of the veterans' children are starting to make decisions about having their own families, and it will fund specialist advice, such as genetic counselling, on a case by case basis for families of veterans.

- Being part of a veteran’s family can create its own pressures. Funding will be made available for individual and family counselling on a case by case basis.

- All new health services will be offered under case management, delivered by the Office of Veterans’ Affairs.

- The new health services need further work before details are available on implementation dates. Research in the USA and Australia will be monitored for further developments.

Improved services to veterans

- The Office of Veterans’ Affairs will introduce case management services so as to improve the services to veterans and their families. The OVA intends to contract with community organisations to deliver some of these services.

- An enhanced War Pensions Claims Panel process will be developed to ensure consistent decisions on entitlements.

- The number of claims panels will be retained, as will the RNZRSA membership of those panels. However, the Secretary for War pensions will be more involved in the decision making process.

- There will be a seamless approach to the delivery of veterans’ services, including a one-stop web site and automatic transfer between 0800 free phones.

- Veterans will be known as “veterans” and not beneficiaries.

- In consultation with veterans’ groups, a special service charter will be developed specifically for the War Pensions Processing Unit. The charter will recognise the special needs and status of veteran.

- The new case management services need further work before details are available on implementation dates.

Costs of the package

- The ex-gratia payment is estimated to cost a one-off $4.5 million.

- The indicative cost of the new health services is in the range of $200,000 per annum.

- The indicative cost of the new case management services and improved claims panels is between $2 million and $4.5 million per annum.

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