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54/1997 DSH Budget Measures - August 1996
National Office Instruction
amending General Orders (1993 edition)
Instruction No. 54
Date of Effect: 5 March 1997
DSH BUDGET MEASURES - AUGUST 1996
AMENDMENTS TO THE DEFENCE SERVICE HOMES ACT 1918 BY THE VETERANS' AFFAIRS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (1996-97 BUDGET MEASURES) ACT 1996
The purpose of this instruction is to explain the effects of the amending legislation covering the changes to the DSH Scheme announced in the Budget of 20 August 1996.
Details of the Budget measures were forwarded on 20 August 1996. The Defence Service Homes Act 1918 was amended by the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (1996-97 Budget Measures) Act 1996. The amending legislation received Royal Assent on 5 March 1997. All DSH measures are to apply from the date of Royal Assent.
The August 1996 Budget Measures were:
1. Extend eligibility under the Defence Service Homes Act 1918 to persons who served in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and Somalia within the dates specified in Schedule 2 to the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 and whose first service in the Defence Force began on or before 14 May 1985;
2. Extend eligibility for Defence Service Homes (DSH) loans to 'veteran widowers' of WWII women; and
Measure 1. Veterans whose first service in the Defence Force began on or before 14 May 1985 (except for those who elected in 1991 to revoke their DSH entitlement) are eligible under the DSH Scheme. Those who enlisted on or after 15 May 1985 are generally eligible under the Defence HomeOwner Scheme. Because of a break in service, some veterans who enlisted before 15 May 1985 and who have not yet served for more than 6 years do not qualify for DSH assistance as a 'Regular Serviceman', but may do so at some stage in the future provided they serve in excess of six years in relation to their latter enlistment. To date they have been excluded from assistance whereas their colleagues who enlisted later and who also served in Cambodia, Yugoslavia and Somalia can obtain loans under the Defence HomeOwner Scheme. There is a small number who are not eligible under either the DSH Scheme or the Defence HomeOwner Scheme because they first enlisted before 15 May 1985.
Eligibility under the DSH Act stems from having served on designated war service or for certain minimum periods of peacetime service. For those who enlisted on or after 17 August 1977, the required minimum period of peacetime service is a period in excess of six years.
In May 1985 it was announced that the DSH Scheme would be closed to persons whose first service in the Defence Forces commenced after 14 May 1985. The replacement scheme, the Defence HomeOwner Scheme (DHO), commenced operation in 1991. In 1993, eligibility under the DHO Scheme was extended to cover operational service in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and Somalia. The Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 was also amended by the addition of items 12, 13 and 14 to Schedule 2. At the time no action was taken to extend the same coverage to DSH entitled persons because of the perception that they would already be entitled to assistance as they would have completed more than 6 years' service. This has since been found not to be the case.
This measure will overcome the current anomaly by extending coverage as an 'Australian Soldier' in the DSH Act to veterans who were allotted for duty in the areas described in items 12, 13 and 14 of Schedule 2 to the VEA and whose first service in the Defence Force began on or before 14 May 1985.
Measure 2. The May '95 Budget initiative extending eligibility to members of the WWII Women's Services guarantees those persons access to certificates of entitlement for initial assistance irrespective of whether they were previously assisted as spouses or widows of eligible ex-servicemen. That same guarantee was not extended to eligible ex-servicemen who were spouses of these WWII ex-servicewomen. To date therefore, widowers who have previously used their entitlement as ex-servicemen have not had ready access to assistance as the widowers of the newly eligible ex-servicewomen. This outcome could be seen as discriminatory.
This measure therefore addresses the issue of unintended discrimination against 'veteran widowers' of WWII women who have previously used their own entitlement to DSH assistance. WWII 'veteran widows' of veterans are presently entitled to such assistance under the Act.
Policy to be applied
Measure 1. Eligibility under the Act as an 'Australian Soldier' has been extended to include those who served in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and Somalia within the dates specified in Schedule 2 to the VEA and whose first service in the Defence Force began on or before 14 May 1985. Any person who has served in these areas during these times is eligible to receive a certificate of entitlement provided other provisions of the legislation are satisfied.
Measure 2. The same entitlement protection afforded to the WWII ex-servicewomen who gained eligibility from the May 1995 Budget measure is extended to 'veteran widowers' of those women. This means that 'veteran widowers' of the women listed in Subsection 2AA are entitled as widowers independent from any entitlement as veterans in their own right. This includes concurrent assistance on both entitlements if the person has a remaining entitlement as the veteran.
Changes to the Act
In the absence of a consolidated version of the Act as amended, details of the legislative changes are set out below.
Measure 1. Instead of inserting a new paragraph (gd) in the section 4 definition of "Australian Soldier" to include the three new operational areas, it was decided to merge the existing (gc) with (gb) and include the new areas in the amended paragraph (gb). The VALA Budget Measures Act 1996 therefore amended the DSH Act as follows:
1 Subsection 4(1) (paragraph (gb) of the definition of Australian Soldier)
Omit "the operational area described in item 10", substitute "an operational area described in item 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14".
2 Subsection 4(1) (paragraph (gc) of the definition of Australian Soldier)
Repeal the paragraph.
Measure 2. The entitlement protective provision for WWII veteran widowers in the VALA Budget Measures Act 1996 amended the DSH Act as follows:
3 After subsection 4(2AB)
(2AC) For the purposes of the definitions of further advance and initial advance in subsection 4(1), a man who:
(a) was an eligible person in his own right; and
(b) is the widower of a person of a kind referred to in subsection (2AA);
is not taken to have been a purchaser or borrower, merely because he previously became a purchaser or borrower on the basis that:
(c) he was an eligible person in his own right; or
(d) his wife was an eligible person and he and she were, under subsection 4A( 1 ), together treated as an eligible person for the purposes of this Act; or
(e) his wife was an eligible person and he became an eligible person because his wife died; or
(f) he was an eligible person because he was a dependent parent.
Changes to General Orders
Chapter 7 of the Eligibility General Orders has been amended to include the additional operational areas. An amended Index and Schedule 2 to the VEA have also been prepared. Please replace existing pages 3-4, 31-32 and 65-66 with the amended pages.
A new Entitlement GO 11.5 covering 'veteran widowers' of WWII women has been prepared. New Index pages 1-3 are also attached. Please replace existing pages 1-3 and 63 of the Entitlement GO's with the amended pages.
A revised Widow/Widower table in the Entitlement General Orders will be issued as soon as possible.
Effect on Previously Issued NOI's
This instruction complements COI 29 of 25 July 1994, COI 26 of 19 May 1994, COI 13 of 25 June 1991 and COI 11 of 1 March 1991
for Ag Branch Head
Housing & Community Support
10 March 1997