Recently, there have been media reports regarding General Practitioners and Medical Specialists rejecting the Gold Card for treatment, or charging a Gap Fee.

If a doctor accepts the Gold Card they cannot then charge Gap Fee. If a doctor states up front before accepting the Gold Card that there is a Gap Fee payment, it is up to the veteran to make a decision to pay that fee, which will not be reimbursed.

Please notify the DVA of those doctors who are not accepting Gold Cards. They will discuss the matter with the doctor in question and refer you to others that will treat you under the DVA system.

The DVA is currently discussing a new Schedule of Fees with the AMA.

Taking care of your joints

Getting older implies two things, you are less mobile and your joints ache. As well as medication and exercise, there are things you can do every day to help deal with the pain and stiffness and take good care of your joints.
How to reduce stress on your joints

  • Keep to your ideal weight (see advice on diet, below).
  • Pace your activities throughout the day – don’t tackle hard physical jobs all at once.
  • Think about your movements – what makes things worse?
  • Avoid activities that put stress on your joints.
  • Wear shoes with thick soft soles, which act as shock absorbers.
  • Consider using equipment or modifying your home and workplace to help you avoid stressful movements.

Dealing with pain

As well as medication, there are simple ways in which you can treat your painful joints.
Warmth applied to the affected area can relieve pain and stiffness. Some people buy special heat lamps or creams that produce localised heat, but a hot water bottle can be just as effective. Make sure it’s wrapped in something so it doesn’t burn you.
An ice pack can bring relief to hot and inflamed joints, but you should seek advice from a physiotherapist first. Never apply ice directly to the skin – it can burn.
Stress and muscle tension can make arthritis seem much worse. Many people find that taking a long bath, listening to soothing music or using a relaxation tape can help. A physiotherapist will be able to advise you on relaxation techniques.
Eat healthily
Your body needs a variety of nutrients to stay healthy, so make sure you get lots of fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and beans, dairy foods and cereals such as bread, rice and pasta. This is what is meant by a balanced diet.
Generally, we tend to eat too much fatty and sugary food, such as cakes and chips, and not enough fruit and vegetables. Reducing the former and increasing the latter is often the key to losing weight as well as improving health.
Special diets
There are many theories about whether what you eat affects your arthritis. As yet there’s little scientific evidence to suggest that it does, but some doctors feel special diets are worth trying as long as they don’t mean missing out on vital nutrients.
If you’re considering going on a special diet for your arthritis, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor first.
Some people with arthritis find their condition improves when they give up certain foods. One theory is that this is because of a food allergy or food intolerance.
There are many tests for determining allergies or intolerances, but the only reliable way of identifying foods that could be making your arthritis worse is by systematically excluding them from your diet. This should be done with the knowledge of your doctor.
Helpful foods
There are theories that certain foods and dietary supplements may help arthritis. Some have been tested more than others. For example, there’s evidence that the essential fatty acids found in fish oil and plant seed oils, such as sunflower oil and evening primrose oil, may help some people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Other supplements you may hear about include green-lipped mussels, selenium and garlic. However, there’s little scientific evidence of these having positive effects.
You should discuss taking such supplements with your doctor.
Jim Mavromatis
State Rep Men’s Peer Health Education


Did you know:

  • If a veteran has a Defence Service Home Loan, and dies before it is paid out, the loan is not automatically paid out. In some cases the loan may not even continue for the benefit of the partner.Please check with Defence Service Homes on Freecall 1800 722 000 to clarify your position.
  • If on a DVA pension and travelling overseas it is necessary to notify the Department in plenty of time prior to departure. If you have a treatment card (white or gold) you also need to ascertain the treatments for which you will be covered, and how to access them.
  • If a partner of a veteran who receives the Special Rate becomes widowed before they are 56, they will not be eligible for the Income Support Supplement. They may become eligible on their 56th birthday.
  • All veterans still in the paid workforce are asked to contact a pension officer prior to accepting any inducement to finish work, regardless of how generous it may seem, or what your health status appears at the time.
  • For people on Service Pension or Special Rate (TPI). Next time you visit your Local Medical Officer (GP) ask for a prescription to get A 125ml tube of ‘Sunsense Ultra Lotion SPF 30Plus, It will be supplied by your chemist at the $3.60 per script rate and you can slip, slap, slop, and that’s not just in the bathroom!!



The Future of the Repatriation General Hospital
Should RGH remain a small stand-alone hospital or merge with the SAHS?

The purpose of this paper is to provide a basis for Ex-Service Organisations to conduct their own examination of the present and future status of Repatriation General Hospital, Daw Park.

The Federal Government, through the Repatriation Commission/DVA, has a clear responsibility to care for serving soldiers and veterans. Since DVA ceased funding and became a purchaser of community-based services, it is the States’ who administer the means of delivery.

The Government of South Australia has indicated its intent to change governance arrangements in order to achieve a more integrated health service by moving to a ‘departmental’ model where the Chief Executive (CE) of the Department of Health will be accountable to the Minister and hospital CEOs report direct to the CE.

In 1995, the Repatriation General Hospital was transferred from the control of the Repatriation Commission to become a public hospital administered by the State Government, although it retained its special relationship with the veteran community. Some years later, the Repatriation Commission severed its exclusive relationship with the former Repatriation Hospitals across Australia when it issued most veterans with the Gold Cards that allowed them a wide choice of service providers. The choice of Private Hospitals has recently been widened.

RGH remains a stand-alone hospital administered by a Board of Management, which includes a Veterans’ Representative appointed by the Minister. Although, in theory, the present governance model provides for the Board to manage independently, latitude for independent action is severely limited by requirements to conform with government and departmental policy and financial strictures.

The Draft Health Care Bill 2007 provides an opportunity for veterans to participate in a Veterans’ Health Advisory Council (HAC) that will enable them to advocate for and advise on services to veterans wherever they may be delivered in the health system, not just RGH. The composition, charter and resources for the VHAC have yet to be determined. Generic rules for HAC are at:

Given the SA Government intent to integrate health service delivery and change hospital governance, under present arrangements RGH as a small stand-alone hospital will become increasingly isolated from professional forums, mutual cooperation and shared assets. RGH, FMC and Noarlunga Hospital have already found an operational necessity to share assets, services, human resources, and dual professional staff appointments vide an MOU.

Although the Minister has made it clear that RGH is not expected to migrate to the new governance structure unless the veteran community supports such a change, the time has come for veterans to review their position. Many more important improvements to structure, governance, collaboration and consultation will soon be announced. It is very important that veterans are represented on various forums within the new broader SA Health, MH and Aged Care structure. The Minister has provided opportunities for veteran participation by provision for a VHAC. The Government’s intent and opportunities for veteran participation should not be ignored.

Detailed points, together with professional medical and managerial advice are available in the CC of ESO Discussion Paper 2006. ‘The Future of the Repatriation General Hospital’.

The Consultative Council of ESO is working hard to address Health, MH and Aged Care issues. We have consulted with Ministers and their advisors to ensure that veterans’ needs are included in planning at all levels as SA develops Health, MH and Ages Care Service Delivery on a State-wide integrated basis. We are presently working to progress two major proposals for veterans’ Social Inclusion. They are:

  • that serving soldiers, veterans and their families living in SA should be considered as and included as a ‘special needs group’ because their conditions of service and the effects of their active service on war and war-like deployments set them apart from members of the general community and cause special needs
    among them; and
  • that the Government SA create a Portfolio of Veterans’ Affairs under the auspices of the Premier of SA.

During future negotiations with SA Ministers and their advisors, questions related to the future of RGH will be considered along with a list of issues of concern to the veteran community. Our side will put a case for the following:

  • An SA Veterans’ Act, similar to the Victorian Veterans’ Act tailored to SA conditions;
  • Appointment of a SA Minister for Veterans’ Affairs;
  • Establish SA Veterans’ Council to work direct to the SA Minister for Veterans’ Affairs;
  • Establish SA Veterans’ Patriotic Fund;
  • Development of SA Health, MH and Aged Care Plans to include provision for veterans’ special and specific needs, including specific targets for Aboriginal Ex-Servicemen and their families;
  • Establish SA Veterans’ Health Advisory Council (VHAC) as part of SA Health Plan;
  • A Capital Funding Program over 5 years for RGH; and
  • Veteran participation in any SA/DVA negotiations over funding.

The RGH Board has already indicated a strategic intent for RGH to merge with the Southern Adelaide Health Service (SAHS). The consequence of merging with SAHS under new governance arrangements is that RGH will move into the new ‘Departmental’ model and the Board will be dissolved.

Should RGH remain a small stand-alone hospital or merge with the SAHS?

Approach to Consensus

The Consultative Council, as the peak body, intends to apply the following process:

  • Issue of this paper to Ex-Service Organisations for their consideration and to allow time for them to formulate their positions;
  • Meeting of Ex-Service Organisations’ representatives, to be sponsored by the Consultative Council;
  • Consultative Council to begin negotiation with State Government (with advice to DVA and RGH);
  • Report back to Ex-Service Organisations on outcome of negotiations and formulate final veteran position(March/April 2008)

Enquiries and comments from ESOs are welcome.

Contact Norm Bell, Project Officer on 8322 2438.

Laurie Lewis

Enquiries and comments from ESOs are welcome.

Contact Norm Bell, Project Officer on 8322 2438.

Laurie Lewis

Veterans MATES

Helping Veterans Get the Best from Their Medicines

When was the last time you had a good talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the medicines you take? As we get older we tend to rely on more medicines to help us manage our illnesses and maintain our health. Often we take a range of medicines which, if not taken correctly, can result in additional health problems.

Veterans’ MATES is a new program from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that helps veterans and their carers avoid these problems and use their medicines safely.

Most medicines are effective when used as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.

You may also use medicines from supermarkets, health food stores or over the counter medicines along with those prescribed by your doctor. But medicines taken in the wrong way or at the wrong time can cause harm, even an emergency.

Up to one-third of hospital admissions of older people are due to problems with medicines. People mix them up, use them incorrectly or simply forget to take them.

Thankfully, these problems are preventable and Veterans’ MATES can help.

Veterans’ MATES sends information about different health conditions and medicines to veterans, doctors and pharmacists every few months. So far, materials have covered Home Medicine Reviews, heart conditions, diabetes and arthritis. DVA has joined with Australia’s leading Quality Use of Medicines organisations to deliver Veterans’ MATES to an estimated 16 000 medical practitioners, 5 500 pharmacies and their veteran patients.

You or your carer can begin to better manage your medicines by talking to your doctor and pharmacist about Veterans’ MATES. They can arrange a Home Medicines Review of all your medicines.

Ben, a 78-year-old Korean War veteran, learnt a lot about his medicines after having a Home Medicines Review, which was organised by his doctor. A pharmacist visited Ben in his home, arranged to dispose of out-of-date medicines and helped him organise his tablets. Afterwards, the pharmacist discussed Ben’s medicines with his doctor. Ben felt much more confident talking to his doctor and pharmacist about his medicines after the Home Medicines Review.

To get help with your medicines:

  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist regularly about your medicines
  • Ask your doctor about a free Home Medicines Review by a pharmacist in your own home
  • Call Veterans’ MATES on 1300 556 906
  • Get a copy of the Home Medicines Review brochure at