A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DVA and the Department of Defence was signed on 5 February 2013. The new MOU builds on previous agreements between Defence and DVA but, for the first time, incorporates 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 introduces the concept of the ‘support continuum’ – the structure of systems that extends across both 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 widow/ers, dependants and wounded, injured or ill ex-service members. 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 and DVA’s approaches to caring for wounded, injured or ill personnel. This review was called the Support for Injured or Ill Project – Review of Current Practices. The report is available at www.defence.gov.au/publications/siipreviewcurrentpractices.pdf.
As a result, 31 opportunities for process improvement were identified across both departments. SWIIP is the implementation of these recommendations, of which 26 have been closed. A key initiative under SWIIP is the On Base Advisory Service (OBAS).
OBAS has now been operational since 1 October 2011. The overall response to OBAS from the ADF continues to be very positive and demand for services continues 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.
A joint project is currently underway to investigate strategic options to address the remaining SWIIP recommendations and to further enhance the work already achieved under SWIIP. DVA and Defence are working closely together on a range of 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, subject to consent being in place, information is now being provided to DVA at the time of the incident to enable early contact and support.
The Defence Links Steering Committee (DLSC) is the key governance mechanism that ensures a strong relationship between Defence and DVA. The DLSC is co-chaired by the Deputy President of the Repatriation Commission (DVA) and the Deputy Secretary Defence People (Defence) and meets quarterly.
The MOU established a high level committee – the Defence DVA Executive Committee (DDEC) – to provide oversight of the DLSC. Membership comprises the Secretary of DVA; Secretary of the Department of Defence; and the Chief of the Defence Force. The DDEC was first convened in 2013 and will meet annually. Issues to be considered by the DDEC will include the operation of the Memorandum of Understanding between Defence and DVA, information and data exchange, and support for seriously wounded, injured or ill members.
The Interdepartmental Committee for Streamlining Administration of Transitioning and Former ADF Members continues to address administrative issues for current ADF members and ex-serving members and their families dealing with multiple government agencies. The Committee has representation from the following departments and agencies: Australian Taxation Office; ComSuper; Defence; Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Human Services; and DVA. A subsidiary interdepartmental working group addresses issues at the operational level.