The National Consultation Framework (NCF) initially was launched in 2009 and is a comprehensive consultative structure designed to facilitate communication between the veteran and ex-service community, the Repatriation and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commissions, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). The NCF operates independently to the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters (PMAC).
The original NCF established in 2009 comprised of fora in each of the states and territories and five national fora:
- Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT);
- Operational Working Party (OWP);
- Current and Former Members of the ADF – Emerging Issues Forum (EIF);
- National Health, Aged and Community Care Forum (NHACCF); and
- National Mental Health Forum (NMHF).
The 2013 Review of the National Consultation Framework
In late 2012, the former Secretary of DVA, Mr Ian Campbell PSM, commissioned a review into the NCF. noting five years had passed since its inception, the veteran and ex-service community demographic was evolving, DVA’s relationship with the Department of Defence was closer than previous and the way DVA delivered services was also changing. All the fora with the exception of PMAC were included in the review.
The review was carried out by a Steering Committee consisting of the Repatriation Commissioner, the First Assistant Secretary of DVA’s Client and Commemorations Division and the Deputy Secretary - Defence People Group, from the Department of Defence. The review was conducted in the first half of 2013 and involved wide consultation with current and recently former members of the respective fora as well as senior DVA officers and representatives from Defence.
The review made three key recommendations:
- The National Consultation Framework remains relevant and should continue to exist as a premier consultative mechanism with the ex-service community.
- Redesign the current forum structure to reflect the changes in DVA and the veteran and ex-service community; to ensure contemporary needs are addressed; to ensure the referral process is formally embedded; and that state and territory forums engage with local contemporary veteran and ex-service communities and formally refer issues to relevant national forums to maximise the value of the consultative framework.
- DVA to develop and implement effective and realistic referral pathways between NCF forums and with the broader department at large.
The 2014 National Consultation Framework
Following the recommendations made by the NCF Review Steering Committee, a revised framework has been developed for use in communication between the veteran and ex-service community and the Repatriation and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commissions and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
The key changes to the NCF are as follows:
- The ESORT will continue to operate in its current format with only minor changes to its Terms of Reference.
- The OWP and EIF will close, to be replaced with a new Younger Veterans – Contemporary Needs Forum (YVF).
- The NHACCF will be close and be replaced with a new National Aged and Community Care Forum (NACCF).
- The NMHF will close. The new PMAC announced by the government will focus significantly on Mental Health.
The above changes reflect the Department’s response to the recommendations of the review, including the need for greater representation of contemporary veterans across all fora, a focus on the quality of fora rather than quantity, and the amalgamation of overlapping fora.
Text description of the National Consultation Framework - Referral Pathways
The vertical flowchart flows from top to bottom through a hierarchy. Flows are shown as operating in a two way direction up and down through the hierarchy (there being no direct link between the top and bottom role in the hierarchy). The top three roles are (from top to bottom) Prime Minister, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table. From the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table, the flow drops down into two paths. The left path goes to the Young Veterans Contemporary Needs Forum, and the right path goes to the National Aged and Community Care Forum. Below these two roles, the separate paths then both flow into the bottom-most role of State Consultation Fora.
The one exception to the hierarchical flow is a path which provides for flow back upwards direct from the State Consultation Fora to the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (thus providing the option of bypassing both the Young Veterans Contemporary Needs Forum and the National Aged and Community Care Forum).
All consultative fora at a national and state level will operate with defined work agenda, formal terms of reference, operational principles and standardised secretariat services to assist the framework
The ESORT can refer any matter to another national forum and/or state-based forums for consideration. Subordinate state-based forums can equally refer issues to the national ESORT for consultation.
As deemed appropriate by the Chair and assessed on a case-by-case basis, matters may also be referred from the ESORT to other consultative bodies to which DVA contributes and that exist outside the National Consultation Framework.
Organisations represented on NCF forums are to consider the Terms of Reference, as well as the intent and the objectives of the forum, when nominating a representative to form part of the membership.
The National President or Chairperson of the organisation will nominate at least two representatives, providing a brief statement in support of the nominations, as well as the nominated individuals’ resumes.
The ESO Round Table (ESORT) comprises the National Presidents/Chairpersons of the member organisations.
The Younger Veterans – Contemporary Needs Forum (YVF) comprises of younger serving or former serving members with contemporary experience (post 1999), or representatives who have a direct association with contemporary conflicts (e.g. widows / partners).
The National Aged and Community Care Forum (NACCF) brings together a range of aged care experts, including ESOs and those in the aged care industry.
State and Territory forums comprise representatives from state and sub-branches of a number of ESOs.
Nominations, including supporting information, should be forwarded to the forum secretariat for consideration. For State or Territory forums, this will be the local Deputy Commissioner’s group.
New Organisations on Forums:
Organisations that believe they have a representative client base and are able to contribute to high level and strategic discussions, are welcome to request they be considered in future membership changes. The membership of the forums is reviewed every three years, the next due in 2017.