Canberra Veterans Affairs Network moved to Centrelink office

Canberra Veterans Affairs Network moved to Centrelink office

Canberra veterans will have to visit Centrelink to access support services after the closure of a dedicated Woden office, in a move Labor politicians have slammed as a "disgraceful" attack on the ex-service community.

The federal government announced in July negotiations had begun to shift the Canberra Veterans' Access Network on Corinna Street to the nearby Centrelink office on Bowes Street.

Canberra veterans will have to visit Centrelink to access support services.

Canberra veterans will have to visit Centrelink to access support services.Credit:Glenn Campbell

The Department of Veterans' Affairs said there were discussions to "co-locate" the service and its staff with the Department of Human Services Centre, which also houses Medicare, from mid-September.

But a letter last week confirmed to veterans the office would shut on Friday and the same range of "services, support and information" would continue to be available at the new location from today.

"The relocation of DVA services to the service centre will also enable veterans and their family members to access a variety of government services in one location," the letter said.


Opposition Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth and Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann said in a joint statement on Sunday the decision to shut the existing office with only several days notice was "disgraceful".

"These offices are the first point of contact for the veterans' community, giving advice on issues ranging from pension benefits, financial assistance, transport problems and mental health issues.

"This is an attack on veterans who deserve their own access to critical services with specialist staff who help veterans and their families navigate often complex questions about entitlements and regulations, which are not the same as the services offered by Centrelink and Medicare."

The pair said veterans were "furious" over the move, and the closure of the dedicated office would particularly affect older veterans who relied on frontline advice and services from the network.

"This is not the first time the Liberal Government has closed down VANs, with several forced to close their doors throughout Victoria and NSW - only proving the government has no interest in providing stand-alone, frontline services to veterans."

The department said in the letter there would be a separate waiting area for veterans and their families and access to a private interview room if required.

"The new arrangements will ensure that DVA assistance can be accessed from a modern facility which has direct access to a large carpark and is within close proximity to the Woden bus interchange," it said.

The department previously said it would work with the local veteran community to ensure the planned transition was as smooth as possible, and that network services continue to meet members' needs.

A department spokeswoman did not return calls on Sunday.

Megan Gorrey is a reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was previously a reporter at The Canberra Times.