Since the signing of the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DVA and the Department of Defence on 5 February 2013, there has been formal recognition that the responsibility for the delivery of care and support is shared across both departments.
The MOU ensures that the key principles that govern the cooperative delivery of care and support arrangements are best practice, remain effective and adapt to individuals’ changing needs. The MOU introduced the concept of the ‘Support Continuum’ – the structure of systems that extends across Defence and DVA to deliver the seamless care and support Australian Defence Force (ADF) families deserve.
The respective roles of both departments in the provision of care and support at all stages of a member’s career are clearly identified in the MOU. Defence has the lead in caring for and supporting serving members. DVA has the lead in caring for and supporting wounded, injured or ill ex-service members, eligible widows and widowers, and dependants. DVA is also responsible for providing compensation and other support to eligible serving and former members.
Defence and DVA are jointly implementing the Support for Wounded, Injured or Ill Program (SWIIP) to develop a whole-of-life framework for the care of wounded, injured or ill ADF members. In 2010, Defence conducted a four-month review of the system of support, including Defence’s and DVA’s approaches to caring for wounded, injured or ill personnel. The report of the Support for Injured or Ill Project Review is available at http://www.defence.gov.au/publications/siipreviewcurrentpractices.pdf.
The review identified 31 recommendations for improvement across both departments. 29 were actioned; one was closed with no action, as events had overtaken the matter; and one was deferred to SWIIP Phase 3.
A key initiative under SWIIP is the On Base Advisory Service (OBAS), which has been operational since 1 October 2011. The ADF’s response to OBAS continues to be very positive, and demand for services has continued to increase. On Base Advisers are connecting with ADF members early, providing information and assistance on the services and benefits provided through DVA, and ensuring potential clients can be confident of an efficient, effective and quality service when contacting DVA.
DVA and Defence have now commenced work under SWIIP Phase 3 to further enhance the work already achieved under SWIIP. Both departments are working closely on initiatives to allow a proactive response for ADF members who may require DVA services. For example, where a member is involved in a serious incident, information is provided to DVA at the time of the incident to enable early contact and support for the member or the family. Under a new Defence Instruction, DVA is also notified of ADF members who are medically discharged, to ensure that contact and DVA services can be made available early.
The Government’s response to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade report Care of ADF Personnel Wounded and Injured on Operations was tabled in Parliament on 6 March 2014. DVA and Defence are working closely together to implement the response.
The Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission established the ADF Service Women Steering Committee to consider and report on issues such as health, mental health, rehabilitation, family support transition and post-transition concerns of women and to review Defence and DVA provision of services for ADF serving women.
The Defence/DVA Executive Committee (DDEC) is the key governance mechanism that ensures a strong relationship between Defence and DVA. The Defence DVA Links Steering Committee is responsible for implementing the DDEC directions, is co-chaired by Defence and DVA and meets quarterly.