Tweed war vets to queue at Centrelink for services
RICHMOND MP Justine Elliot has slammed the Turnbull Government over its closure of the Veterans’ Access Network shopfront at Tweed Heads, moving it to Centrelink instead.
Despite serving up to 14 elderly war veterans per day, the department decided the shopfront at Tweed Mall was no longer viable and closed its doors on February 26.
Mrs Elliot told Parliament on Tuesday, war vets deserved better than having to line up at Centrelink for services.
“These are the people who have fought for our nation, we must always remember that and we must honour them,” Mrs Elliot said.
“I understand that our veterans are very disappointed with this closure, and as their local MP, I stand with them and with our community against these cruel cuts.”
A Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) spokesperson told the Tweed Daily News a routine review found the lease was too “expensive” to continue.
“Like all areas of government, the (department) must consider how it can become more efficient and effective, reduce spending and make savings, while still ensuring services meet client needs,” the spokesperson said.
“The Tweed Heads VAN shopfront was located in a busy shopping complex, with an expensive lease, but it averaged only 14 client visits a day in 2014–15.
“DVA determined that maintaining the existing standalone shopfront was not financially viable.”
The spokesperson said community consultation in the lead up to the expiry of the lease found face-to-face contact still remained “valued by members of the community”.
So DVA staff were co-located with the Department of Human Services service centres at Tweed Heads South and Robina.
The same level of service will be offered to veterans, with a separate waiting area for and access to a private interview room if needed, the spokesperson said.