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Nationwide Consultation Begins On Agent Orange

14 October 2005

The Agent Orange Joint Working Group, set up to make recommendations to Government on issues relating to the health and wellbeing of Viet Nam veterans and their families, is about to start a nationwide consultation process.

“The Working Group will later this month begin consulting Viet Nam Veterans and their families wanting to make submissions”, the group's independent chair Michael Wintringham said.

“Following the report of the Health Select Committee in 2004, the Government accepted that New Zealand Service men and women were exposed to a toxic environment (including Agent Orange) during their service in Viet Nam”, Mr Wintringham said.

In February this year, the Government established the Joint Working Group comprising representatives from the Ex-Vietnam Services Association (EVSA) and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA), and officials from the Offices of the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Veterans' Affairs.

The Working Group is united in its commitment to helping the Government achieve a positive outcome for Viet Nam veterans and their families through this process.

Veterans and their families have for years been voicing their concerns about the impact on their health and well being of the veterans’ service in Viet Nam. This is an issue that not only impacts on the veterans and their families but is of importance to the country as a whole.

"In recognition of the need for urgency to resolve this issue the Government has told us that they want our recommendations by next April," Mr Wintringham said.

Those wishing to participate in the consultation process are invited to register their interest on a website (www.vietnamvetswg.govt.nz) or by calling 0800 838372.

Submissions can be made in writing direct to the Joint Working Group office. There will also be an opportunity to speak to the Joint Working Group during a series of consultation meetings commencing in mid November. More information on the submission and consultation process will be provided to those who register.”

ENDS

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