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Outcome 1: Compensation and Support

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The following section is a text version of the infographic.

Compensation and support

DVA maintains and enhances the financial wellbeing and self-sufficiency of eligible persons and their dependants through access to income support, compensation and other support services, including advice and information about entitlements. Improved business practices and the focus on meeting quality performance measures will enable DVA to deliver compensation, support and services more efficiently and effectively.

In 2016–17:

  • $6.4 billion was spent on compensation and income support services
  • 176,232 clients received income support
  • an additional 67,000 veterans became eligible to receive treatment for the following mental health conditions:
    • post traumatic stress disorder
    • depressive disorder
    • anxiety disorder
    • alcohol use disorder
    • substance use disorder
  • 30,950 disability claims were received
  • 126 ex-service organisations received funding for pensions and welfare officers
  • Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Program was launched

Maintain and enhance the financial wellbeing and self-sufficiency of eligible persons and their dependants through access to income support, compensation and other support services, including advice and information about entitlements.

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Compensation claims processing

As part of its commitment to providing services to veterans and their families in a more strategic, sustainable and efficient manner, DVA is determined to simplify and improve the timeliness of claims processing.

In 2016–17, DVA met the majority of the timeliness targets for compensation claims processing under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA), the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

DVA is undertaking a transformation of its ICT and business processes. As part of the 2016–17 Budget, $23.9 million was provided over two years to undertake urgent technical work to ensure that critical rehabilitation and compensation (R&C) processing systems operate effectively. Under the Improving Processing Systems Program, DVA is progressively building a single R&C processing system over two years. The first two system releases occurred in November 2016 and May 2017; the final two releases will be in November 2017 and May 2018. The new system will enable liability, needs assessments, incapacity payments, permanent impairment claims and rehabilitation assistance to be processed through the one system.

The R&C business model continued to assist in improving claims processing time frames, consistency, and the overall client experience. There will be further refinements with the introduction of the new Claims and Operations Division from 1 July 2017.

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In 2016–17, DVA's ongoing Rehabilitation Review Project continued to improve the effectiveness and consistency of the delivery of rehabilitation services for veterans. The project's positive outcomes have been:

  • the promotion and expansion of psychosocial rehabilitation
  • improved sharing of information between all stakeholders
  • collaborative undertakings by DVA, the Department of Defence (Defence) and service providers
  • improved support for veterans where service providers need to meet additional requirements above those needed for Comcare accreditation
  • the revision of education policy, including tertiary study policy and guidelines, to ensure that support is available to all members.

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Service improvements

DVA undertook a number of activities in 2016–17 to improve the delivery of rehabilitation services and to continue to respond to the Australian National Audit Office's audit of the administration of rehabilitation services under the MRCA.

To ensure that the specific needs of veterans can be effectively met and value for money is obtained, from 1 July 2016 rehabilitation providers who wish to work with our clients must meet Comcare accreditation requirements and a number of DVA-specific requirements. Those requirements include experience in working with people from similar work environments and people with complex medical conditions; experience in transitioning workers into new work areas; and mandatory training for rehabilitation provider staff on military culture and DVA services.

Improvements have been made to DVA's rehabilitation communication and training materials. They include the launch of a suite of rehabilitation e-learning modules for providers, and training for staff about the revised tertiary and psychosocial guidelines. DVA continues to provide a bi-monthly e-newsletter for providers, hold biannual information sessions for providers and promote DVA's rehabilitation program through social media and rehabilitation success stories published on DVA's website.

La Trobe University has been engaged to undertake a review of how well goal attainment scaling (GAS) is working in practice to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of DVA's rehabilitation program. GAS, which was introduced in August 2015, is a method of developing tailored rehabilitation plans for clients and measuring outcomes of rehabilitation activities.

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MRCA Rehabilitation Long-Term Study

The MRCA Rehabilitation Long-Term Study is a joint research project with the Department of Defence. Its aim is to examine the long-term effectiveness of DVA and Australian Defence Force (ADF) rehabilitation programs delivered under the MRCA.

DVA contracted the Sax Institute to lead a consortium for Phase 1: Development of a study design framework. The proposed draft and final study design framework were reviewed by an independent scientific advisory committee and a project board and the final framework was delivered on 15 December 2016. The study is expected to commence in 2017–18.

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Development of the Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Program

The Prime Minister launched the Veterans' Employment Program on 17 November 2016. The aim of the program is to raise awareness of the unique skills and experience that veterans can bring to the civilian workplace and promote greater employment opportunities for veterans in the private sector.

The program includes:

  • establishment of the Veterans' Employment Industry Advisory Committee
  • implementation of the Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Awards
  • creation of the Ex-Service Organisation Industry Partnership Register
  • various employment initiatives of Defence, DVA, the Department of Employment, and the Australian Public Service Commission.

The Government provided $2.7 million in the 2017–18 Budget to implement the program.

The Veterans' Employment Industry Advisory Committee comprises representatives of small, medium and large businesses across a range of industries. The committee has met on two occasions and established priority areas on which to focus. The Government's jobactive website has been improved to include information for veterans and an optional 'Defence Force experience desirable' flag on job advertisements. DVA and Defence continue to improve their transition and rehabilitation processes to assist former ADF members to transition into civilian jobs.

Work to develop a website for the program is underway.

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Non-liability health care

From 1 July 2016 and as part of the 2016–17 Budget, DVA implemented changes to non-liability healthcare arrangements, extending eligibility for mental health treatment to those with one day of permanent service in the ADF.

As a result of this change an additional 67,000 veterans became eligible to receive treatment for the following mental health conditions:

  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • depressive disorder
  • anxiety disorder
  • alcohol use disorder
  • substance use disorder.

In addition, changes were made to enable claims to be lodged via phone and email and to allow claims to be granted on a provisional basis for six months prior to a diagnosis being received.

In the 2017–18 Budget, the Government committed to extending the conditions covered to all mental health conditions from 1 July 2017.

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Advocacy Training and Development Program

From 1 July 2016, the new Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) commenced managing advocacy training previously provided through the Training and Information Program.

In April 2017, the National Course in Military Advocacy was accredited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority. It is now a recognised course within the vocational education and training sector.

New advocates have commenced training under the ATDP and are working toward obtaining their competencies for accreditation.

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Single pathway for appeals and alternative dispute resolution

The introduction of a single appeal pathway was a recommendation of the 2011 Review of Military Compensation Arrangements. It simplifies and streamlines the appeal process under the MRCA by reducing the previous dual pathway to a single pathway and ensures that the appeal process under the MRCA is consistent with the appeal process under the VEA. It applies to all primary claim determinations made on or after 1 January 2017. The changes will be of benefit to current, former and future members of the ADF covered by the MRCA.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an integral part of the single appeal pathway as it will allow the Veterans' Review Board (VRB) to resolve a large number of cases without the need for a full VRB hearing. Following the successful 2015 trial of ADR for all appeals in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, a national rollout of ADR at the VRB commenced in 2016–17. ADR is now available in all states other than Queensland, where it will be rolled out following implementation of the VRB case management system.

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Additional support for victims of physical and sexual abuse

In June 2016, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held a public hearing to inquire into the experiences of men and women who were sexually abused as children in the ADF. In response to the issues raised, the Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission have changed DVA's policies and procedures for handling claims relating to sexual and physical abuse.

As a result of those changes, DVA has broadened the use of statutory declarations as evidence to establish that an incident of sexual and/or physical abuse occurred. In assessing claims, DVA will consider all the available evidence and, depending on the particular circumstances, can determine that an incident of abuse occurred based on a statutory declaration alone.

DVA is applying the new policy to all current claims and new claims. Claims that were previously rejected for evidentiary reasons and are known to DVA are being revisited and assessed under the new policy.

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Priorities for 2017–18

The provision of rehabilitation services will remain a priority for DVA in the coming year. The focus will include:

  • further consolidation of activities to better measure the effectiveness of rehabilitation services
  • consideration of options for the future engagement of rehabilitation providers
  • the MRCA Rehabilitation Long-Term Study
  • consideration of how to meet timeliness targets for claims processing
  • implementation of straight-through processing
  • implementation of the Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Program.

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Straight-through processing

The Department will progress the implementation of straight-through processing arrangements for certain liability claims. Under this arrangement, training and service data provided by Defence are used to satisfy specified Statements of Principles (SOPs) factors for certain medical conditions. Where straight-through processing is applicable, claimants will no longer be required to fill out questionnaires detailing their specific service activities, potentially reducing the time taken to assess liability.

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Implementation of the Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Program

The Department will progress implementation of the various initiatives of the Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Program, including assisting the Veterans' Employment Industry Advisory Committee to finalise its report to the Minister in late 2017. The Department will deliver the inaugural Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Annual Awards and work with the ex-service community to establish the industry partnership register.

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