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Ministerial media release - 35 years of mental health support for vets

MEDIA RELEASE

THE HON DAN TEHAN MP

MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL
MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR CYBER SECURITY
MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE CENTENARY OF ANZAC

 

29 January 2017

 

35 years of mental health support for veterans

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today paid tribute to everyone who had contributed to the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service, which celebrates its 35th birthday today.

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), known originally as the Vietnam Veterans’ Counselling Service, provides free mental health counselling and support to those who have served our nation.

It has provided more than 1.6 million counselling sessions to more than 300,000 veterans and family members since the first office opened in Adelaide on 29 January 1982.

“VVCS is the legacy of our Vietnam veterans, who recognised a need for mental health services specifically for those who had served in the military,” Mr Tehan said.

“VVCS clinicians offer specialised face-to-face and telephone counselling, as well as group programs, to individuals and families who have been directly and indirectly exposed to conflict.

“It now provides services to more than 27,000 clients a year, with centres throughout Australia and a strong network of outreach counsellors in regional and rural areas.”

Mr Tehan said VVCS support had evolved over the years, and eligibility had expanded to include the families of veterans, as well as those involved in more recent conflicts and various peacetime operations.

“The Government has committed to providing $3.1 million to further extend access to VVCS services to include family members of current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members who die by suicide or reported suicide; siblings of ADF members killed in service-related incidents; Defence Force Abuse Taskforce (DART) complainants; families of DART complainants; and adult sons and daughters who are over the age of 26 years of post-Vietnam War veterans,” he said.

VVCS offers support for service-related issues, such as anger, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sleep disturbance. Clinicians also work with couples and families on relationship issues that arise from the unique demands of military life, and run a range of group programs including free suicide prevention workshops for members of the veteran community.

“We have a duty of care to the men and women who have served our nation, which is why the Government made mental health treatment for PTSD, depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse free to anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF,” Mr Tehan said.

VVCS provides specialised, free and confidential Australia-wide support and operates 24 hours a day on 1800 011 046. For more information, visit http://www.vvcs.gov.au or follow VVCS on Facebook.

 

Media enquiries:

Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894

Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

 

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

RSL ACT