Members of the Australian civilian surgical and medical teams who provided medical aid, training and treatment to local Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War will gain access to their Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card from 1 July 2019.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the Treatment Benefits (Special Access) Bill received Royal Assent on Friday.
“From 1 July, additional support will be available for the Australian Civilian Surgical and Medical teams who worked in Vietnam during 1964–72,” Mr Chester said.
“Funding of $22.2 million over four years will cover all their medical costs, not just injuries and illnesses that have arisen as a result of their time in Vietnam.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Australian Government has listened to the concerns of these men and women.
“They played a significant part in Australia’s contribution to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) aid program in South Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, providing medical aid in Vietnamese civilian hospitals and training to local medical staff,” Mr Frydenberg said.
During the Vietnam War, about 240 doctors and 210 nurses, and a small number of administrative and technical personnel worked in Vietnam under contract with the then Department of External Affairs.
“This measure recognises that while the medical teams were not under the direct command and control of the Australian Defence Force during the Vietnam War, they were exposed to hazards and dangers as a result of working in a conflict zone for the Australian Government,” Mr Chester said.
In the lead up to the commencement of the Act, eligible members of the Australian civilian surgical and medical teams will be able to submit an application for the Gold Veteran Card.