South Australia steps up for PTSD-hit veterans

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The Legal Services Commission of South Australia (LSC) is stepping up efforts to reach out to military veterans, as the sector experienced a massive drop in legal aid applications last year.

In line with the Commonwealth government’s drive to assist veterans with mental health problems, the commission want veterans with psychological and physical injuries to know that they may be eligible for legal aid when challenging decisions about military pensions or compensations for war-caused injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

The commission said that its data reveal a 50% decrease last year in legal aid applications from veterans in South Australia seeking assistance in these matters.

“The legal assistance we provide recognises the enormous sacrifices that military personnel make in the service of their country,” said Chris Boundy, the LSC’s manager of access. “Significant numbers of veterans suffer from physical or psychological injuries. It is vital that eligible veterans receive specialised legal assistance if they seek to challenge a decision regarding compensation or pension payments.”

Boundy said that the commission provides free, independent advice about rights and entitlements under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act and the Military Rehabilitation Compensation Act. It can also advise on the merits and chances of success of lodging claims and appeals.

“It’s important to note that, while grants of legal aid are usually means tested, grants to war veterans in these matters are not means tested. However, there is a merits test which requires there to be a reasonable prospect of success in the matter for a grant of legal aid to be provided,” Boundy said.

Veterans can reach the LSC through 1300 366 424 or their website.

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