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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

MEDIA RELEASE

27 June 2018

Joint statement — Response to ANAO Audit Efficiency of Veterans Service Delivery by the Department of Veterans' Affairs

Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Darren Chester, and Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, Liz Cosson, welcome the tabling of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) performance audit of the Efficiency of Veterans Service Delivery by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

The audit was undertaken in response to recommendation 13 of the 2017 Senate inquiry report, The Constant Battle: Suicide by Veterans.

The Minister and Secretary agree with the six recommendations outlined in the audit report, which identifies important improvements needed to DVA's management, quality and timeliness of veterans' rehabilitation and compensation claims processes.

These improvements are all about putting veterans and their families first and eliminating unnecessary delays and frustration associated with some aspects of DVA's claims assessment and management process.

Work has already commenced to address a number of the recommendations highlighted in the report.

In its 2018–19 Budget the Government committed in excess of $11 billion to provide essential financial support, compensation, health and rehabilitation services for approximately 290,000 veterans and their families.

An additional $112 million was provided in this year's budget as the Government continues a multi-year program of reform of DVA, which commenced on 1 July 2017.

This long-term program aims to put veterans and their families first by transforming DVA's business processes and culture, improving service options and information, and redeveloping information technology systems. These improvements are already supporting implementation of a number of the ANAO recommendations.

Measures underway include:

  • Enabling younger veterans to gain early access to treatment and support and improving the transition from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to civilian life.
  • Simplifying veterans' interaction with DVA through the new MyService platform, which enables service and claim applications.
  • Improving timeliness and quality of service delivery to veterans by:
    • supporting early access to treatment through non-liability health care for all mental health conditions for any veteran
    • implementing interim payments for permanent impairment cases, and
    • extending the use of Statements of Principle, streamlined processing and straight-through processing to simplify and speed up the determination of less complex claims.

DVA continues to implement the Improving Processing Systems (IPS) Program, a single rehabilitation and compensation processing system to enable future decommissioning of 18 separate legacy systems. Planned IPS releases will include better management reporting, tasking, automatic alerts when key processing milestones are not met and more active monitoring of the claims investigation process.

Recent joint work with the Department of Defence is providing more timely access to Defence records.

The Minister acknowledges the good work DVA's staff do in supporting the veteran community and is committed to support its ongoing transformation.

The Secretary welcomes the opportunity to improve the efficiency of DVA's service delivery for veterans and enhance the overall veteran experience and thanks the ANAO for its work in preparing the report.

This report, along with the current inquiry being undertaken by the Productivity Commission, will enable DVA to continue its critical transformation work to, ultimately, best serve all those who have served this country.

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.