University of Tasmania
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The changing pattern of eligibility for veterans' affairs pensions

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:15 authored by Harrison, Arthur
The thesis follows the development of the ways by which successive Australian Governments, from World War I onwards, have attempted to provide a measure of compensation to veterans who suffered injury or disease on war service, and to dependants of veterans whose death could be related to war service. Initially, purely local assessment and determination of claims within a broad framework was applied, but lack of consistency around the country forced the setting up of an entirely new department of government, devoted to serving the ex-service community. Superimposed, in the interest of fairness, was a multiple-level system of review and appeal in a sequence of Boards, Tribunals and, eventually, the Federal Court and High Court, with substantial involvement of lawyers appearing for claimants or the government. As detailed assessment of the effects of disease and injury are a matter for specialists, the medical profession has also become deeply involved in the determination process, but with an all too frequent display of diametrically opposed views on the relationship, if any, of a particular veteran's present conditions and the incomplete record of what happened to him during his time in the Forces. As in other spheres of law, corroboration of a claimant's evidence is highly desirable, but the sheer lapse of time, half a century in the case now of World War II veterans, has made if often impossible to find witnesses with a reliable memory and willing to sign a Statutory Declaration. Increasingly, too, and especially in regard to certain conditions, lack of direct evidence has been relieved by the use of epidemiological data, whereby an acknowledged extra risk has been usable to grant a claim, often long after the death of the veteran concerned. Claims which are seen to lie at the extremes of acceptance or rejection are relatively easy to assess. The inevitable doubt attached to border-line cases are a different matter as shown by the detailed examples in the text. Lest it be thought that the last word has been said on the subject, there is now (June 1994) yet another piece of amending legislation before Parliament, containing some provisions likely to be resisted by the ex-service community. Finally, a plea is made for the abandonment of the present squabbling on medical and legal grounds in favour of a two-tiered, but otherwise universal, flat rate. Adjustment of actual rates of pension should enable this approach to reach the usual objective of budgetary neutrality and is suggested as likely to attract wide approval by those affected.


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Copyright 1995 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Leg.S.)--University of Tasmania, 1995. Includes bibliographical references

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