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How New Zealand defines and recognises veterans - Ron Mark

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has announced today the Coalition Government’s initial response to work completed by the independent statutory body, the Veterans’ Advisory Board.

"When Professor Ron Paterson completed his review of the Veterans’ Support Act in 2018, he made a number of recommendations, including one which I referred to my independent advisory body, the Veterans’ Advisory Board," says Ron Mark.

The Board was asked to look at who should be considered a veteran and how their service should be recognised.

"This was an issue that a number of veterans had expressed disquiet about. Professor Paterson felt the time had come to look at it again, and I agreed."

The Veterans’ Advisory Board has recommended that all who have served should be considered veterans, and should receive services and support, on the basis of need, if they have been injured or made ill by their service in the armed forces, irrespective of where that service took place.

"That would be a substantial change to the current situation in New Zealand and, as the Board recognises, there are a number of implications to be worked through.

"I’m asking my officials to examine and cost the sorts of scenarios for veteran recognition that the Board has detailed, and to examine the possibility of a navigator service to help military personnel transition to civilian life.

"In the meantime, as Minister for Veterans I am using the term ‘veteran’ in line with the broader and more inclusive definition recommended by the Board, where this does not impact on use of this term as otherwise defined in legislation."

The Board also recommended a Covenant, or Kawenata, be established between service people and the Government and the people of New Zealand.

Such a Covenant or Kawenata would formalise an undertaking that those who serve, and their families, should not be disadvantaged by service, and that special provision be made for those who have sacrificed the most.

"Prominent examples of a Covenant in overseas jurisdictions are the Armed Forces Covenant in the United Kingdom, and the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, and I believe they have demonstrated significant benefit for veterans and their families.

"Cabinet has agreed that the Veterans’ Advisory Board undertake a national conversation with New Zealanders about the possibility of establishing such a Kawenata here.

"The Veterans’ Advisory Board will be reporting back to me on their findings by 31 July 2020, and I encourage all those interested in this topic to engage with the Veterans’ Advisory Board as they seek the views of the community.

"Early next year I expect to make a further announcement on policy and legislative improvements to the veterans’ support system, alongside a summary of progress made on responding to all 64 recommendations of Professor Paterson’s report," says Ron Mark.

The Veterans’ Advisory Board interim report can be found at: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2019-12/VAB%20Interim%20Report.pdf

The Terms of Reference for the next stage of work for the Veterans’ Advisory Board, on establishing a Covenant or Kawenata can be found at: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2019-12/TOR%20for%20VAB%20-%20December%202019.pdf

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