The Coalition has made a federal election pitch to spend $38.1 million over the next three years to establish a program that will call on veterans and their families for disaster resilience, recovery and relief operations.
More than 6,500 volunteer veterans and family members could be called upon by Australians when disaster strikes, according to a plan to boost the numbers of people participating in an NFP reserve of helpers.
In a statement on behalf of the Liberal National Party (LNP), The Nationals said the proposed program would be created in partnership with Disaster Relief Australia (DRA).
“Veterans bring unique skills and experience to everything they do, and this program will seek to harness these in a coordinated way in partnership with first responders and governments to rapidly deploy disaster relief teams in Australia and around the world,” the political party said in a statement.
“In addition, by providing specialist training for these veteran volunteers, this program will provide our veterans with purpose and direction.”
The proposal will aim to boost DRA’s numbers by another 5,200 volunteers with supporting equipment and infrastructure to help coordinate an emergency response during disaster events.
The government previously backed the volunteer group’s employment program for veterans, to offer training, qualifications and work opportunities for former ADF personnel, while also meeting the national resourcing need for more emergency responders.
“This investment builds on the government’s $3 million investment in DRA under our Enhanced Employment Support for Veterans Grants under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program,” the election statement read.
“DRA was able to develop courses for core disaster relief specialities and purchase equipment with this funding, which continues until the end of 2022-23.”
Non-partisan DRA told The Mandarin that Labor also supported the volunteer veterans plan.
“[Our organisation] has worked with the ADF and government for the past five years, and over the last year has campaigned for the establishment of a National Veteran Volunteer Service (NVVS), which has been adopted as a policy by both the federal Labor party and Liberal party, as detailed in yesterday’s announcements by each party,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“Federal funding for the NVVS will add capacity and give DRA the ability to further integrate and hand-off with emergency responders and formalise a system for national disaster response based on a shared knowledge, using the specific military-earned knowhow of veterans.”