Each week more than 20 000 DVA clients travel to receive some type of treatment for their medical conditions. For the vast majority, this travel is arranged by DVA and is undertaken in a commercial taxi.
As part of the arrangements, individual taxi networks are now providing regular training, instruction and information to selected taxi drivers about meeting the specific needs of DVA clients while promoting respect, dignity and recognition for the contribution veterans have made to the defence of our country.
Likewise, booking staff at taxi networks are trained to ensure timely despatch of taxis to meet pickup times and that drivers are provided with the correct information to best serve the needs of DVA clients. Many large taxi networks employ staff who are dedicated only to DVA clients and their needs.
Taxi networks require drivers to meet high performance standards for on time service, and are closely monitored.
Sydney-based St George Cabs driver Mustapha Alouie finds the work very rewarding and enjoys providing a specialised and high quality service to veterans and war widows.
‘It’s the little things that make all the difference to the veteran or war widow, like meeting the client at their front door, assisting them into and out of the taxi and helping with their seatbelt. I always ask if they wish to listen to the radio and their preferred radio station.
‘As I do a lot of DVA taxi travel work, I get to know the clients and their needs.’
NSW Southern Highlands Taxis driver Wayne Bell has been providing taxi services to DVA clients for a number of years and spends much of his day undertaking DVA transport.
‘I enjoy working with the DVA clients and they like travelling in my taxi. I am so proud when the DVA client requests my services for the return journey or when they remember me from having picked them up some other time.’
DVA has worked very closely with the taxi industry about transporting veterans and war widows and the training and education of taxi drivers. More recently, this has expanded to include greater involvement from various ex-service organisations to improve the understanding and expectations of DVA clients. The result of this education and greater understanding is making a difference.
Ann Orchard, Community Services Officer from the War Widows’ Guild of Queensland, has recently visited many of the Guild’s sub-branches and social groups from Brisbane to Cairns. Guild members are telling Ann that the Booked Car with Driver Scheme is wonderful. The feedback from elderly clients who use the service is that the taxi drivers are polite and very helpful.
DVA’s partnership with the Australian taxi industry and its close working relationship with individual taxi networks around Australia is a positive step in improving the quality of taxi services and the experience for DVA clients.