Home' Vetaffairs : Vetaffairs Summer 2016 Contents 6 — Vetaffairs Summer 2016
An easy way to get mental health treatment
If you’ve served as a permanent member of the Australian Defence Force, even for a single day, you can get free, immediate treatment for post-traumatic stress
disorder, depression, anxiety, and alcohol-use and substance-use disorders. This is a separate service to DVA’s compensation process. Just follow the steps below:
• 24 hour assistance
• group programs and workshops
• suicide prevention workshops
For more information, visit www.v vcs.gov.au
Access to mental health treatment is available immediately
DVA will send you a White Card in the mail that will cover the costs of your mental
health treatment, but you do not have to wait until it arrives to start treatment.
In fact, DVA will reimburse you for any mental health-related expenses you have
incurred up to three months before you contacted the department.
I served in the ADF and ...
• I have nightmares
• I feel sad all the time
• I can’t control my temper
• I feel anxious or depressed
• I drink too much and/or abuse drugs
• I am moody and agitated
• I feel helpless
DVA will need a diagnosis from
your GP, psychiatrist or clinical
psychologist within six months
Make sure you have your service number
ready to provide to us.
You can also contact DVA via email
email@example.com or download a form
I served in
IF IMMEDIATE HELP
CALL 1800 011 046
Veterans and Veterans Families
Counselling Service (VVCS)
Call DVA on 133 254
or 1800 555 254
DVA will need proof of
identity unless you are
Access to treatment includes:
• mental health social workers
• social workers
• mental health occupational therapists
• hospital services
• group programs
The Department will provide reduced services over the Christmas – New Year period from
5.00 pm Friday, 23 December 2016, resuming full services at 9.00 am Tuesday, 3 January 2017.
Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) offices and Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling
Service (VVCS) centres will be closed over this period. However, veterans and their families
can continue to access a number of critical DVA services, including:
• counselling – the VVCS after hours service offers 24/7 counselling to members of the vet-
eran and ex-service community and their families. This service is available toll free on
1800 011 046 to veterans and their families. This number is for counselling only. If urgent
assistance is required, please call 000.
• transport – if transport is required for medical treatment please note that:
transport requests will be processed as usual from 28 to 30 December inclusive – please
call 1300 550 455 from metropolitan areas or 1800 550 455 from regional areas
otherwise, please pay for the transport up front and seek reimbursement from DVA
when offices re-open.
Alternatively, if you are a registered MyAccount user, transport can be booked and mod-
ified, and travel expenses lodged online, through MyAccount – DVA’s online services
portal at https://myaccount.dva.gov.au. You can arrange MyAccount registration prior
to the Christmas / New Year period by phoning DVA on 133 254 from metropolitan areas
or 1800 555 254 from regional areas.
• hospital admissions – doctors can admit DVA patients into hospital and request retro-
spective approval for the admission, where required, when DVA resumes full services.
• pharmaceutical approvals – providers seeking prior approval for pharmaceuticals can call
the Veterans’ Affairs Pharmaceutical Advisory Centre (VAPAC) 24-hours a day on 1800 552 580.
• Defence Service Homes Insurance – help with policy and claim enquiries is available
24-hours a day on 1300 552 662, and payments can be made on 1300 304 989, for the cost of
a local call.
Please note – pension pay days will not be affected by the reduced services period.
Visit the DVA website (www.dva.gov.au) for general information about DVA services and
DVA services over Christmas and New Year
Treating sleep apnoea
In late November, the Government
released a report on the prevalence of sui-
cide among current and former members
of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The
research was commissioned by DVA and
undertaken by the Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare (AIHW). It is the most
statistically robust data on veteran suicide
compiled to date.
The study, Estimation of incidence of suicide
in ex-serving Australian Defence Force person-
nel, showed that between 2001 and 2014
there were 292 deaths by suicide among
people with at least one day of ADF ser-
vice. Of these, 272 were men.
The AIHW used data from the Depart-
ment of Defence’s Personnel Management
Key System, which contains information
on all people who serve or have served
in the ADF from 1 January 2001, and the
National Death Index (NDI) – a Common-
wealth database that contains records of
The data showed that, compared with
all Australian men of the same age, the
suicide rate was significantly lower for
those men currently serving full-time (53
per cent lower) and for those in the reserve
(46 per cent lower).
The data also showed that there were 23
deaths by suicide among ex-serving men
aged 18–24. This rate is almost twice that
of Australian men of the same age.
‘While the vast majority of ex-ADF per-
sonnel go on to lead long and fulfilling
lives, one suicide is one too many,’ said
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan.
He added that the AIHW study is impor-
tant in furthering our understanding of
‘From 1 July this year, the Government
has made mental health treatment for
post-traumatic stress disorder, depres-
sion, anxiety and alcohol and substance
misuse free for anyone who has served
one day in the ADF. This treatment is
demand-driven and is not limited by
In addition, the National Mental Health
Commission will review the suicide and
self-harm prevention services provided by
the departments of Defence and Veterans’
One of 12 suicide prevention trial sites
will begin operation in 2017 in Towns-
ville – home to a large ADF and veteran
‘DVA invests about $187 million each
year towards the provision of mental
health support to veterans and their fami-
lies, and the Government has announced
an additional $192 million to tackle the
mental health challenges across our com-
munity,’ Mr Tehan said.
DVA is also providing $6 million in
funding to Phoenix Australia to improve
our understanding of mental health chal-
lenges and develop better treatment for
veterans and the wider community.
A further $3.1 million is being provided
to extend the Veterans and Veterans Fami-
lies Counselling Service, and $4 million to
ex-service organisations to promote social
inclusion and peer-to-peer support for
It is also continuing the Operation Life
suicide prevention and awareness work-
shops and developing a pilot program to
support a more targeted approach to sui-
In addition, the Government will con-
sider the findings of the Senate inquiry
into suicide by veterans and ex-service
personnel when it is released in 2017.
The AIHW will provide the Government
with more detailed findings by mid-2017.
If this article raises any issues for you, please
contact the Veterans and Veterans Families
Counselling Service 24 hours a day across Aus-
tralia for crisis support and free and confidential
counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international:
+61 8 8241 45 46) or go to www.vvcs.gov.au.
If you have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA),
your breathing during sleep is reduced or
may stop for a minute or more. You may not
know that this happens or you may wake
many times a night, sometimes gasping
or choking. You may also wake up feeling
If you have mild OSA, then losing weight,
reducing alcohol consumption and adjust-
ing your sleeping position may be all the
treatment required. For those with moder-
ate or severe OSA, other treatments may be
A very effective treatment for OSA is con-
tinuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
DVA recently finalised the outcomes of its
tender for the provision of CPAP services.
The following suppliers have been awarded
national contracts: Air Liquide Healthcare,
BOC and ResMed.
If you think you may have OSA, consult
your GP who will refer you to a specialist if
required. If you have been diagnosed with
OSA and require a CPAP machine, a respira-
tory physician or sleep specialist will need to
complete an application form, available on
the DVA website under ‘Forms’, and fax it to
one of the above suppliers.
For more information about OSA, visit
the Sleep Health Foundation website
(sleephealthfoundation.org.au and find
‘Obstructive sleep apnea’ under the Fact
Sheets A-Z) or the Victorian Government’s
BetterHealth website (betterhealth.vic.gov.
au and find ‘sleep apnoea’ via the ‘Condi-
tions and treatment’s tab).
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