Professor Ron Paterson was appointed in June 2017 to lead a review of the operation of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014.
Professor Paterson is a Professor of Law at Auckland University, and a former Health and Disability Commissioner and Ombudsman. He has law degrees from Auckland and Oxford Universities, and has held Fulbright and Harkness Fellowships. Professor Paterson was awarded an ONZM for services to health in 2011.
Why was there a review?
The Veterans’ Support Act 2014 was very different from the old Act that it replaced (the War Pensions Act 1954), so Parliament built in a provision requiring that the Chief of Defence Force review the new Act after two years to make sure that it’s operating as intended.
The review was to give veterans and their families an opportunity to have their say about how well the new Act is working in practice.
An independent person was chosen to do the review, so there would be an external and impartial perspective on how the Act is working.
What was the review about?
The review looked at whether the Act is meeting its purpose of providing rehabilitation and support to veterans who have been injured or become ill as a result of being placed in harm’s way in the service of New Zealand.
Following an engagement and consultation period, the reviewer reported on how effectively the new Act is working and made recommendations. Areas considered were: where more clarity is needed; whether the needs of veterans could be better met; and whether the new Act is flexible enough to manage the provision of fair and reasonable entitlements for eligible veterans and their families.
The Review’s terms of reference [pdf | 2.76 MB | 5 pages]
The review was overseen by the Vice Chief of Defence Force, Air-Vice Marshal Kevin Short.
The consultation process
Professor Paterson travelled the country and sought submissions on what people think works well in the Veterans’ Support Act, and what could be improved or requires change.
Consultation meetings for the Review were held in August and September 2017. A link below outlines where the meetings took place. Several focus groups, including with currently serving servicing New Zealand Defence Force staff, were also held in September and October 2017.
List of consultation meeting locations, venues and times [pdf | 350 kb]
A Discussion Document was released and submissions were due by 15 September 2017. The submission form included a wide range of questions on issues covered in the discussion document.
People were asked to only answer the questions they were interested in. If people did not wish to complete a submission form, they were asked to write an email or letter in response to three key questions:
- What do you think works well in the Veterans’ Support Act 2014?
- What doesn’t work well, or could be improved or clarified?
- Would you like to see any specific changes? If so, what are they, and why is change needed?
Initial consultation findings
The consultation process was very successful. The review team has met with over 700 people at meetings and focus groups around the country and received 200 written submissions. The review team has been impressed with the level of engagement, and the willingness of people to share their personal stories.
Some of the substantive issues raised during the review concern:
- Eligibility for services.
- Better support for families.
- Simpler systems and processes for considering applications and providing support.