Recommendations from the Paterson Report

Update on recommendations as of 26 May 2020.

More focus on the needs of veterans

Recommendations

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Recommendation 1

The Act is amended so Veterans’ Affairs has more flexibility to meet individual and family needs, including:

  1. the ability to offer a range of treatments, rehabilitation approaches and supports; and
  2. discretion to offer more or different services and culturally appropriate support.

Included in policy development programme:

Decision/action to address Status

Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. This represents the first tranche of change to the 2014 Act. The focus of the changes in this Bill is ensuring fairness and consistency across the Act. Consultation will occur as part of the Select Committee process. 

Underway

To date:

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans’ Affairs now offers treatment “up front” for claimants with mental health issues to minimise harm of waiting for decisions. Actioned
Veterans’ Affairs policy has been amended to allow non-standard treatment where a medical practitioner recommends this and NZ health guidelines are followed. Actioned
Veterans’ Affairs has investigated and funded flexible access to accredited programmes for social rehabilitation (including. Art Therapy and Outward Bound courses). Actioned
Recommendation 2

Veterans’ Affairs is given funding to establish a flexible fund so that it can develop and offer programmes, services and supports in addition to those provided through the Act.

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans’ Affairs has recommended that the same result can be achieved by greater flexibility of practice, policy and amendments to legislation. Medium-term improvements programme
Funding for treatment is not constrained. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 3

The treatment and rehabilitation provisions of the Act are made consistent and flexible, to ensure that early intervention and an appropriate continuum of care can be delivered.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veteran Rehabilitation Strategy was launched in May 2018. Actioned
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. This includes changes to enhance consistency and flexibility.  Underway
Recommendation 4

Flexible early intervention support is made available to veterans in emergency, acute or otherwise serious situations, before the presence of a service-related condition is confirmed.

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans’ Affairs has developed protocols to ensure that emergency support is accessible. This has been tested with successful outcomes. Actioned
Urgent entitlement decisions are made for veterans who are terminally ill. Actioned
MSD and Veterans’ Affairs have an agreed process to ensure emergency support is available. Actioned
Veterans’ Affairs and veteran advocacy groups have an agreed process for managing acute cases. Actioned
Recommendation 5

Veterans’ Affairs takes a holistic and integrated approach to meeting veterans’ needs, including providing wrap-around support to the greatest extent possible.

Decision/action to address Status
This recommendation has been incorporated in the Rehabilitation Strategy. Further changes will be driven by measuring results and amending practice. Actioned
There has been work on development and implementation of rehabilitation strategy with core partners. Actioned
There is ongoing monitoring of results for veterans (return to work, social rehabilitation goals) Actioned
Recommendation 6

Veterans’ Affairs is enabled to provide integrated packages of care where a veteran has high and complex needs.

Decision/action to address Status
The Rehabilitation Strategy lays out how care will be integrated. Actioned
Recommendation 7

Veterans’ Affairs is mandated and resourced to be the single point of contact for veteran-focused services and supports for those veterans with the highest and most complex needs.

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans’ Affairs has established MoUs with NZDF Health and ACC to act as the single point of contact where that is in the veteran’s interest. Further work will be dependent on outcome of other Government work including decisions on Veterans’ Advisory Board recommendations. Medium-term improvements programme 

 

Strengthen support for families

Recommendations

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Recommendation 8

Veterans’ Affairs consults family members about their needs and how they could best be met in preparation for service development and legislative changes.

Decision/action to address Status
This practice has been implemented. Actioned
Families are invited to clinics, expos and forums. Actioned
Recommendation 9

New family supports are funded, at least initially, through the flexible fund established outside the Act (see recommendation 2 above).

Decision/action to address Status
Policy work is required Medium-term improvements programme
Veterans’ Affairs has recommended that the same result can be achieved by greater flexibility of practice, policy and amendments to legislation. Actioned
Recommendation 10

The Act is changed to explicitly provide for consideration of families’ needs and practical, flexible support for family members (either through a new addition to the Act or amendment of existing provisions).

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. Some support to families is provided for in the Bill. More extensive change may follow the completion of the VAB report and further policy development. Underway

 

Recommendation 11

Families are included in, or offered, separate needs assessments and rehabilitation/support plans.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. Some support to families is provided for in the Bill. More extensive change may follow the completion of the VAB report and further policy development. Underway

 

Recommendation 12

Carer relief and other support for family carers is implemented as a matter of priority.

Decision/action to address Status
On hold - to be considered following any redevelopment of the National Carer Strategy. The Government is reviewing support for all family carers. This will guide any specific interventions for veterans and their families. Medium-term improvements programme

 

Recommendation 13

Counselling is made available to veterans’ family members for needs related in any way to the veteran’s service, although limits may apply.

Decision/action to address Status
This is available already for families of some veterans. Medium-term improvements programme

 

Surviving Spouse or Partner Pension

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Recommendation 14

Eligibility for the surviving spouse or partner pension is simplified by extending it either to all surviving spouses or partners of Scheme One veterans, or to all surviving spouses or partners of Scheme One veterans with qualifying operational service, and retaining existing eligibility criteria for veterans with routine service.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. Changes to eligibility for spouse support is included in the Bill.  Underway

 

Recommendation 15

The surviving spouse or partner pension is available to the surviving spouse or partner for the remainder of his or her life (it currently ends two years after remarriage/ repartnering)

Decision/action to address Status
Pending recommendations of the Veterans’ Advisory Board and further decisions and policy work. Medium-term improvements programme

 

Children and dependants

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Recommendation 16

The definition of “child” in Part 1 of the Act is amended to better reflect the contemporary family unit in New Zealand, either by an expanded definition or by adding a sub-clause to the existing definition, to include any other dependent child who is being maintained, including financially, as part of a veteran’s family.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. Changes to these definitions are included in the Bill.  Underway

 

Recommendation 17

The children’s bursary is extended to:

  1. children of Scheme Two veterans
  2. a broader range of unpaid study or training, such as vocational training
  3. children of veterans living overseas.
Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. Changes to these definitions are included in the Bill. Underway

 

Recommendation 18

Consideration is given to:

  1. extending the children’s bursary to primary school children
  2. allowing postponing use of the bursary in order to take a short break from studying, or alternatively, extending the bursary to people up to 25.
Decision/action to address Status
a: On hold pending recommendations of Veterans’ Advisory Board and further policy work. Medium-term improvements programme
b: A more flexible policy has been adopted. Actioned

 

Recommendation 19

Childcare payments under Scheme Two are available until a child turns 14.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. Changes to the provision of childcare support is included in the Bill.  Underway

Entitlements on death

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Recommendation 20

Eligibility for the funeral grant is aligned with simplified criteria for accessing the surviving spouse or partner pension (see recommendation 14 above).

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans' Affairs is working with the Ministry of Health to ensure more consistent eligibility rules are included in changes to the Burial and Cremation Act. Underway

 

Recommendation 21

The funeral grant for veterans is increased so it is at least equal to ACC’s funeral grant for death from a covered injury, and that its value is maintained over time, including through CPI-adjusted increases.

Decision/action to address Status
Policy work continues. Underway
Recommendation 22

The Act is amended to make it clear that periodic entitlements continue for 28 days after a recipient’s death in those sections of the Act where there is currently no such provision.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. Changes to this process are included in the Bill. Underway
Recommendation 23

Veterans’ Affairs considers whether the Act should explicitly allow estates to progress to determination a claim or review lodged by a now deceased applicant.

Decision/action to address Status
Applications for terminal lump sums are progressed to determination and payment following death of the applicant. Actioned

Enhance independence support

Recommendations

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Recommendation 24

The Act is amended so partners and spouses are eligible to access Veteran’s Independence Programme services after a veteran dies or goes into rest home or hospital care.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. The recommended change to the treatment of VIP is included in the Bill.  Underway
Recommendation 25

Veterans’ Affairs:

  1. decides whether to extend services to a partner or spouse on the basis of their needs, taking into account tasks a veteran used to perform and did not claim for
  2. helps a partner or spouse, when necessary, to find alternative funders of these services.
Decision/action to address Status
To be addressed by changes in policy and practice.  Actioned
Recommendation 26

The purpose of the Veterans’ Independence Programme is expanded so veterans can receive help to “live independently in their own home and participate in their community”.

Decision/action to address Status
Drive and path spraying, garden agreements and alternative services to address local needs have been added to the current agreements for service. Actioned
Recommendation 27

The definition of “home” in the Act is updated to allow for a wider range of living arrangements.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. The recommended change to the definition of home is included in the Bill.  Underway

 

Recommendation 28

Veterans’ Affairs consults veterans and their families about the range of services that would most help them maintain their independence and participation in the community, in order to determine the areas of greatest need.

Decision/action to address Status
The practice has been implemented (see 8). Actioned
Recommendation 29

Veterans’ Affairs expands the range of support services to enable independent living, and ensures a flexible, individually tailored approach to providing these services.

Decision/action to address Status
This has been agreed and actioned (see 26). Actioned
Recommendation 30

The travel allowance and travel concession are combined into a single grant covering travel for both errands and social activities.

Decision/action to address Status
Policy work is required. Underway

A fairer, clearer Act

Recommendations

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Recommendation 31

Veterans’ Affairs writes a plain English guide to the Act for veterans.

Decision/action to address Status
In the interim the Veterans’ Affairs website has been revised for improved accessibility. Actioned
Recommendation 32

The Act is streamlined and simplified by:

  • combining common provisions
  • removing sections that don’t need to be in the legislation or regulations
  • making a number of clarificatory and technical amendments
  • providing more flexibility and discretion for Veterans’ Affairs, so it can meet the needs of current and future veterans and families
  • allowing for current and future digital technologies.
Decision/action to address Status
Extensive change or revision of  the Veterans’ Support Act might be considered following further policy work and the outcome of the report of the Veterans’ Advisory Board. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 33

Section 205 of the Act is amended to make clear Veterans’ Affairs can at any time reconsider a decision about an application made under the Act if it has made an error or significant new information comes to light that is likely to materially affect the decision.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. The recommended change to the reconsideration clause is included in the Bill.  Underway

 

Recommendation 34

Section 3(a) of the Act is amended to include families and to read: “the rehabilitation of and support for veterans and their families, where a veteran has been injured or become ill as a result of being placed in harm’s way in the service of New Zealand”.

Decision/action to address Status
This requires further policy development. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 35

Veterans’ Affairs reminds staff of the spirit of the Code of Veterans’ and Other Claimants’ Rights.

Decision/action to address Status
This has been included in the Veterans’ Affairs training plan for all staff and in its induction pack. Actioned
A plan to further promote the Code to veterans has been developed. Actioned
Recommendation 36

A new statutory principle recognising a moral duty of care to veterans is included in the Act.

Decision/action to address Status
Further policy work will be required. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 37

Section 28(2) of the Act is amended by adding a further exception, (c), to cover situations where Veterans’ Affairs is satisfied on reasonable grounds that it would be unjust to exclude cover solely because the claimant was briefly absent without leave or committing a minor offence.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. The recommended change is included in the Bill. Underway
Recommendation 38

Section 28(2)(b) of the Act is amended to read: “the illness, injury or death was due to or is a psychological condition that was attributed to or aggravated by the experiences of the veteran during qualifying operational service”.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. The recommended change is included in the Bill. Underway

 

Recommendation 39

Section 29 of the Act is revised to clarify that dependants of a veteran are not, by virtue only of the veteran’s imprisonment, to be denied any entitlements for which they would otherwise qualify.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. The recommended change is included in the Bill. Underway

Improving the system

Structure and people

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Recommendation 40

The Government considers either ring-fencing Veterans’ Affairs’ budget or establishing a separate funding vote for Veterans’ Affairs.

Decision/action to address Status
This has not been agreed at this stage, and may be managed by internal practices. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 41

The Defence Force gives greater priority to veterans’ issues and providing adequate support infrastructure for Veterans’ Affairs.

Decision/action to address Status
NZDF has established an enhanced transition project to develop this. Actioned
Recommendation 42

Veterans’ Affairs is resourced so that it has the operational capability and capacity to carry out the job it was set up to do.

Decision/action to address Status
Some infrastructure investment has been made following Budget 2019. Actioned
Recommendations 43

Veterans’ Affairs continues to build skills related to veterans’ needs, including:

  1. investigating inclusion of a question about military service on general practice registration databases
  2. general practitioner and specialist training
  3. training for its own staff
  4. more Māori/cultural support.
Decision/action to address Status
This recommendation will inform future Veterans’ Affairs training plans. Actioned
An ongoing programme of cultural support is being delivered. Actioned
Arrangements are being developed to provide information to GPs and medical specialists through training sessions and conferences. Actioned

Processes, policies and information

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Recommendation 44

Veterans’ Affairs and the Defence Force work to establish a register of all veterans, their service, their deployments, environmental and other risks they may have been exposed to, and any service-related conditions.

Decision/action to address Status
A review of all historical deployments post 1974 is in progress. Underway
Recommendation 45

Veterans are identified and offered effective transition support when leaving the Defence Force for civilian life.

Decision/action to address Status
NZDF Health provides a managed handover for members going through a medical release. Actioned
An NZDF enhanced transition project has been stood up to develop this. Actioned
Recommendation 46

Veterans’ Affairs improves its outreach communication and public information about veterans’ support, for veterans and the community, including the development of:

  1. information (such as a brochure and/or video) on the appeals process
  2. easily accessible information for veterans living, or considering living, overseas.
Decision/action to address Status
It is planned to develop an “appeals” video in 2019-2020. Under way
A brochure has been developed with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Australia for Kiwi veterans in Australia. Actioned
A “Check your eligibility” tool has been developed and Veterans’ Affairs is working on other  plain language improvements to its communications with veterans. Actioned 
A Facebook page has been launched. Actioned
Recommendation 47

Veterans’ Affairs explores the use of modern technologies, including online applications, setting up a “My Account”, and using mobile phones and social media to communicate with veterans.

Decision/action to address Status
Capital was allocated in Budget 2019 for Veterans’ Affairs to upgrade its current platform as a precursor to online services. Underway
Recommendation 48

Veterans’ Affairs investigates advocacy models and the infrastructure needed to build a professional, well-trained advocacy workforce.

Decision/action to address Status
This has not yet been agreed; it would require new funding. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 49

The 30-working-day limit for decisions is removed from the Act, and Veterans’ Affairs is required to make decisions as quickly as reasonably practicable, and to keep veterans informed about progress with decisions.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2 has been placed on the legislative programme. The recommended change is included in the Bill. Underway
Recommendation 50

Veterans’ Affairs is resourced to complete implementation of its information technology system.

Decision/action to address Status
Capital was allocated in Budget 2019 for Veterans’ Affairs to upgrade its current platform as a precursor to online services. Underway
Recommendation 51

Veterans’ Affairs reviews its policies, processes and practices, to ensure that they align with a generous application of the principles under the Act, consistent with the flexibility and discretion permitted by the Act.

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans’ Affairs has established a policy and process review group. Actioned
Recommendation 52

Veterans’ Affairs reviews its operational policy covering overseas travel.

Decision/action to address Status
A simplified policy is available on the Veterans’ Affairs website. Actioned
Recommendation 53

Section 59(2), which requires veterans living overseas to pay the costs of assessing their ability to work full-time, is removed from the Veterans’ Support Act.

Decision/action to address Status
This has been agreed and is included in a policy development programme. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 54

Veterans’ Affairs reviews its information-sharing and relationship arrangements with the Defence Force and ACC, progresses information-sharing arrangements with IRD for the purposes of weekly compensation and broader tax issues, and explores ways to share information with health practitioners.

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans’ Affairs has signed a formal agreement with IRD. Actioned
Veterans’ Affairs has information sharing arrangements in place with NZDF and ACC. Actioned 
Veterans’ Affairs continues to work with DIA to finalise the legislation to include an AISA which will enable Veterans' Affairs to access timely advice about the deaths of veterans and spouses. As an interim measure Veterans' Affairs is purchasing this information.  Underway 

Rationalising statutory bodies

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Recommendation 55

Veterans’ Affairs reaches an agreement with Australia’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs so New Zealand can adopt each new Statement of Principles in full as soon as it becomes aware that the statement has been introduced or amended in Australia.

Decision/action to address Status
A Veterans’ Affairs representative now attends meetings of the Australian Government Repatriation Medical Authority – this is a precondition for reconsideration of the process. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 56

Veterans’ Affairs seeks agreement from the Australian Government Repatriation Medical Authority for a nominated medical practitioner to attend its meetings to help ensure New Zealand can keep up to date with, and contribute to, the authority’s review and adoption of Statements of Principles

Decision/action to address Status
A Veterans’ Affairs representative now attends meetings of the Australian Government Repatriation Medical Authority. Actioned
Recommendation 57

The Veterans’ Medical Research Trust Fund grant process is transferred from the Veterans’ Health Advisory Panel to the Health Research Council, subject to agreement with the council and arrangements to ensure members of the relevant subcommittee have expertise in veterans’ health and health research.

Decision/action to address Status
The Minister has agreed not to progress this recommendation. Not agreed: Actioned
Recommendation 58

The functions of the Veterans’ Advisory Board and the Veterans’ Health Advisory Panel are merged into a single new advisory board.

Decision/action to address Status
This has not been agreed – it is on hold pending further policy work. Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 59

Hearings of the Veterans’ Entitlements Appeal Board are not delayed, appellants can access educational resources and advocacy support, and appeal decisions are well publicised.

Decision/action to address Status
There are no current delays. Actioned
There is no waiting list. Actioned 
Appeal support is part of a work programme. Actioned 

Review the level of support

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Recommendation 60

Veterans’ Affairs reviews entitlements, supports, and services under the Act to ensure they offer an extra margin of support compared with those provided by ACC or other agencies.

Decision/action to address Status
Veterans’ Affairs has reviewed its current payment levels. Actioned
It is noted that many of these payments are received jointly with payment from ACC and MSD (they don’t cancel each other out). Actioned
Further change will require policy development to determine whether Veterans’ Affairs payments replace or supplement other social supports. Medium-term improvements programme 
Recommendation 61

Veterans’ Affairs reviews the adequacy of financial support for veterans and their families and that this work consider whether:

  1. all serving and former serving personnel should be eligible for a veteran’s pension in recognition of their service to New Zealand
  2. the veteran’s pension should be higher than New Zealand Superannuation payments
  3. the eligibility age for the veteran’s pension should be lower than 65
  4. the impairment threshold for a spouse or partner’s eligibility for a veteran’s pension should be removed
  5. there is enough support for spouses and partners who are under 65 at the time of a veteran’s death when they are unable to work because of ill health or disability.
Decision/action to address Status
This will require further policy work.
The results of work programmes in other agencies could be relevant.
Medium-term improvements programme
Recommendation 62

Veterans’ Affairs and the Ministry of Social Development work to improve the application process for the Veteran’s Pension so qualifying veterans can make an informed choice about whether to receive New Zealand Superannuation or the Veteran’s Pension.

Decision/action to address Status
All applicants are being asked if they wish to apply for a Veteran’s Pension. Actioned

Rethinking eligibility

Recommendation

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Recommendation 63

The Government undertakes further work on who is a veteran and how New Zealand wants to recognise their service.

Decision/action to address Status
The Veterans’ Advisory Board has now presented its interim report. Underway

Future reviews

Recommendation

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Recommendation 64

A further review of the Act, and its operation, takes place within five years of this report, or if statutory amendments are made in response to this report, the first review takes place within five years of the date when the changes come into effect.

Decision/action to address Status
This will be kept under review as specified criteria are met. Underway