COVID-19 – veteran mental health service arrangements
Mental health services delivered by psychiatrists, psychologists, general practitioners, occupational therapists and social workers will be provided as part of DVA’s new telehealth arrangements, where clinically appropriate. These services can still be covered by non-liability health care arrangements where applicable.
On 30 March 2020, the Repatriation Commission and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (Commissions) approved telehealth arrangements for mental health day programs (which are usually group sessions and often delivered by hospitals), where clinically appropriate, until 30 September 2020.
Mental health day program services that may be delivered using telehealth range from one-on-one counselling, through to follow up consultations for Trauma Recovery – PTSD Group Treatment programs. Acute mental health episodes or severe mental health problems will still need face-to-face services or inpatient care.
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (Open Arms) remains available 24/7 to support members of the veteran community. Open Arms is classified by the Government as a critical function, and as such, will remain open and continue operation to support the veteran community.
Open Arms are managing the service’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to minimise disruption of services to clients. This includes ensuring clinicians are equipped to undertake remote working arrangements, to continue to provide counselling to clients, either by telephone or online video platforms.
Safe Zone – Support for Vulnerable and At Risk Individuals
Open Arms has introduced an anonymous 1800 Safe Zone 1800 support line – Safe Zone Support is a free and anonymous counselling line, available to veterans and their families by calling 1800 142 072 (available 24/7). This service provides immediate access to specialised counsellors who have an understanding of military culture and experience. It is known that some individuals and families remain hesitant to engage in help-seeking through existing mental health support services, due to concerns about protection of anonymity. Safe Zone Support has been created for vulnerable cohorts of veterans and their families who might not otherwise seek mental health care.
Other measures to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australian families
In addition to direct mental health support, the Australian government has announced a number of measures that will support the broader wellbeing of Australians, including veterans. These measures included but are not limited to:
- $150 million into support for domestic violence initiatives. This funding will boost programs under the National Plan to reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
- $200 million into emergency relief support – provided to charities and other community organisations to provide emergency food relief as demand surges.
The Australian Government’s stimulus package announced by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer will directly support the veteran community with the two payments of $750 available to approximately 225,000 eligible veterans and their dependants.
On 2 April 2020, the Government also announced the new early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. This will enable child care services to remain open and provide care to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.
Other measures and information specific to states and territories
States and territories have also announced significant stimulus and support packages that may be available to veterans and their families depending on their circumstances. These measures span household assistance such as rates and utilities, increased domestic violence awareness and services, education and business support. There is also information on health supports and physical distancing rules specific to each state or territory.
You can also visit the Department of Health website in your state or territory for the latest updates:
For more information see the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) information page.