16 February 2010
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Judith Collins hosted Veterans' Affairs Ministers from Australia and Canada and a representative of the US Secretary for Veterans Affairs to discussions in Wellington.
The general theme of the discussion was legislative reform. The keynote address to the Ministerial Forum was made by the Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer, President of the Law Commission.
This was followed by presentations from the other Ministers on the changes that they have made to ensure that they have relevant legislation and services in place to meet the needs of current veterans as well as the next generation of veterans.
The presentation by the Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Alan Griffin MP, covered recent developments in the provision of benefits to veterans in Australia. These included improvements such as enhanced mental health services, support for transition from military to civilian life, and research aimed at improving rehabilitation services.
The Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Hon Jean-Pierre Blackburn presented on the implementation of the New Veterans Charter introduced in 2006. This included a comprehensive suite of programmes and services focused on reintegration of veterans from military service back into civilian society. In addition, Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn proposed to his colleagues that the Forum be expanded to include other countries who share similar challenges.
The representative from the USA, Dr Robert Petzel, gave an overview of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “New Zealand is currently undertaking an extensive review of the War Pensions Act 1954 and has benefited from the opportunity to share ideas with the other participants at the Forum,” Minister Collins said.
The Ministers resolved to continue the co-operation between the countries involved in the Forum, and have directed officials to enter into discussions to explore ways to maximize this co-operation.
Media contact: Stefan Herrick 04 817 9809 or 021 748 492.