Future Direction discussion 2021

Future of TPI-SA

The management committee of your association has identified several key risks to our organisation’s viability in the coming years. Although the intention of the association is to welcome all veterans they simply haven’t come on board. This article has been written to both spell out what the current risks are and to offer some suggestions on a path forward. We are seeking your feedback to these proposed changes, which can be either written and mailed to us or emailed to us via the feedback link on the homepage of our website. Feedback would be appreciated by the 1st of December 2021.

The management committee of TPI-SA have analysed the membership data of the association and considers the current membership does not reflect the changing Veteran landscape, in terms of gender diversity, age and conflict. The membership comprises almost exclusively Veterans covered under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act (VEA). The average age of the current members sits close to the South Australian male age expectancy and as such poses a major risk to the future of the Association.

Over the last century, and as each cohort of Veterans enters civilian life, the Acts of parliament have changed to contemporise support mechanisms and transition to civilian life for Veterans. We are now at a crossroad between Veterans covered under the VEA and Veterans covered under Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (MRCA), et al.

The changes recommended in this by the management committee fit within the objectives of the TPI-SA constitution. Clause 3.d. which states:

‘To alleviate, when possible, distress, poverty, sickness and provide comforts and benefits for the care and welfare of members and their dependents. Management will assess each individual case on its merits.’[1][emphasis added].

 

As can be seen in the graph, the average age of our members is currently 74.1, with 1,224 members of a total 1,547 being between 71 and 80 years of age or 80%. Approximately 99% of the total members are Veterans covered under the VEA. Urgent attention is required to shape the TPI-SA constitution to affect an intergeneration change in the Association. Any delay in addressing this issue will cause irrevocable and terminal damage to the legacy of TPI-SA Association. A legacy born out of the Great War to end all wars, a legacy of mate ship and of telling truth to power.

 

The futures committee have discussed this matter and analysed the data that is available. The first jarring set of data is the lack of MRCA et al members of the association. It is difficult to ascertain the exact number of these members however it appears to be single digits. One of the issues associated with MRCA Veterans is how the legislation works and the choice Veterans have in accessing support. Under MRCA, 60 impairment points is considered the equivalent of 100% disability under the VEA. However younger Veterans do not need to trigger a TPI assessment, depending on their personal circumstances, treatment modalities, access to advocates, family composition and financial position. Currently this precludes them from membership of our association and potentially the support and comradeship our association can offer. More importantly they are critical to the future sustainability of the association.

The futures sub-committee has determined that the membership categories in the current constitution should be amended to allow all MRCA gold card holders membership of the TPI-SA association. To qualify for a Gold Card under the MRCA a veteran must have accumulated 60 impairment points, which includes the inability to work. This will open the membership up to an additional 2000+ members here in South Australia.[2] Additionally, there are currently only 17 female Veterans in TPI-SA which could potentially change with the expansion of the ordinary member category as females represent between 15-20% of MRCA Gold Card Veterans. The next graph below sets out the demographic by age and gender of all gold card holders in South Australia that will qualify as an ordinary member.

Recommendation:

There are two constitutional matters that will come forward next year for your consideration. First, The membership categories be amended to allow all MRCA Gold Card holders eligibility as an ordinary member. This option was chosen as there isn’t any other viable option with the current ordinary membership category. The ordinary member definition caters for members under the VEA with some minor exceptions. The primary outcome sought is an enlargement of the potential membership base whilst not wavering from the current intent of the Association.

Secondly, a definition for Veteran be added to the constitution definitions. We have taken the established definition of the Commonwealth for ease and compatibility with our objectives. This definition is housekeeping only and does not materially change the constitution; ‘a person who has served, or is serving, as a member of the Permanent Forces or as a member of the Reserves‘.

Thanks for your continued support and valued membership of TPI-SA. Although we have identified some serious problems relating to our future in this article, they are solvable. As Soldier, Sailors and Airmen we are up for this challenge, we are capable of meeting the times and transitioning to the future in an ambitious and sustainable way.

[1] Clause 3. D., THE CONSTITUTION OF THE ASSOCIATION OF TOTALLY AND PERMANENTLY INCAPACITATED EX-SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN(SOUTH AUSTRALIA) INCORPORATED, accessed on 1-9-21.

[2] This is an estimate of total gold card holders minus females over 80 and our current association members.

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