Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has welcomed the First Reading of a Bill that will make legislative changes to further improve the veterans’ support system.
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, which will amend the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, passed First Reading today. The bill addresses a number of the recommendations of a 2018 report into the operation of the Act by Professor Ron Paterson.
“The changes being made will have an immediate impact on the wellbeing of our veterans and their families,” said Ron Mark.
Increased access to mental health services is being proposed, along with more support for the families of veterans. The amendment bill will also be an opportunity to make the Act fairer.
“Occasionally deployments can’t be made public for security reasons–– and not being able to gazette these deployments, as the Act requires, means those taking part don’t qualify for services and support from Veterans’ Affairs,” said Ron Mark.
“The amendment would give the responsible Minister discretion, for security or operational reasons, to declare operations to be qualifying operational service without requiring that they be gazetted.
“This announcement, together with the new funding provided across the three previous Budgets, as well as actions already taken by Veterans’ Affairs to improve their processes, show significant progress has been made to improve the veteran support system and to implement the recommendations of the Paterson report.
“The veterans of New Zealand have been waiting a long time for the improvements Professor Paterson called for to be brought into effect. They do not deserve to wait any longer, and it is my intent that the Bill is passed prior to the end of this Parliamentary term.
“For that reason, the Bill will have a short period at Select Committee, and will be reported back to the House by 21 July 2020.
“I encourage those interested in the veterans’ support system to engage with the Social Services and Community Committee as it considers the Bill,” said Ron Mark.
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