Funding cuts and an ageing volunteer base are threatening many of the services injured veterans rely on to have their claims recognised, advocates have warned the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Ex-service organisations have said that without further financial support many will no longer be able to continue to support veterans through the complicated and bureaucratic process of claiming entitlements. They have warned the government it may also have to consider funding volunteers if it doesn't want to see those services disappear.
Retired Major James Wain from the Veterans Support Centre in Page has spent 20 years volunteering to assist soldiers in dealing with the department, but says his organisation cannot continue indefinitely without additional support.
"Financially, these guys out here are still running a food van, and there's not one of them that's under 70, some of them are in their 80s, and they go out to raise money to keep this place operating.
"DVA gives us a grant every year, but ours has gone from around $140,000 to $70,000 in the space of about four years, so how do we continue to pay our staff?" Mr Wain said.
In a submission to a damning Productivity Commission review into the veterans compensation system the Veterans Care Association said its calls for greater support had largely fallen of deaf ears.
"The cost of modesty funding the training and employment of advocates and peer health educators would be very quickly offset by the savings in crisis treatment, and ongoing savings to the whole budget would occur. We have been disappointed that these issues and approaches have been raised with the Minister and staff at DVA and no interest has been shown to what is a simple fix to this situation," president Gary Stone said.
"What value does DVA place on improving the health and wellbeing of veterans?"
Department of Veterans' Affairs secretary Liz Cosson said there was an extensive range of government provided support services available to veterans but acknowledged that volunteer numbers were in decline due to veterans of recent conflicts being less likely to be involved with ex-service organisations.
"I always see there's a need for veterans to look after veterans," MsCosson said.
"We should be doing more in the department to help them navigate the complexity of our legislation and help them with their claims. We shouldn't say to a veteran, 'go find an advocate', but if they do want one we should be able to connect them with a good advocate who can help them."
Asked if there was going to be a diminishing role for advocates in future, she said they would likely have a different but still important role.
"With the investment in wellbeing centres, if a veteran is out in regional Australia they've got a pin that they can say they're a veteran and it's that social connection, that's what you really miss when you're not serving. I served for over 30 years, all my friends are military," Ms Cosson said.