Complaints, compliments and feedback

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is committed to customer service so we value feedback from you. We would like to hear if you are happy with the service you have received. If you are not satisfied with the service provided by us, it is important you tell us, so that we can do something about it.

DVA has developed a comprehensive Feedback Management Policy, and you should read this if you wish to provide feedback (complaints, compliments or suggestions for improvement) to DVA. It contains the definitions of complaints and compliments, the contact details on how to provide feedback as well as the service standards of complaints resolution. Further, the policy provides DVA's actions when it receives specific types of feedback, and the alternative options that complainants may wish to follow if they are unhappy with DVA's responses.

For feedback related to the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Services (VVCS), please refer to the VVCS Feedback page.  The VVCS operate a feedback reporting system independent to that of DVA.

For general enquiries (not complaints or feedback) you can contact DVA by:

For enquiries from providers (not complaints or feedback) you can contact DVA by:

For fraud allegations (note that these are not classed as complaints) you can email fraudallegation@dva.gov.au or view the:

Privacy: Your personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988. Read more: How DVA manages personal information.



To make a complaint, the following steps are suggested:

Step 1 - If possible, a complainant should raise the matter with the person they have been dealing with. To call DVA ring 133 254 or from regional Australia
1800 555 254.

Step 2 - If a complainant is not satisfied with the response, they should ask to talk to the manager of that section.

Step 3 - If a complainant is still not satisfied with the response, please contact the Feedback Management Team at DVA by:

  • phoning the DVA feedback number on 1300 555 785 (this number is staffed during normal EST office hours but if staff are busy they will call back within one working day);
  • mail addressed to the Manager, Feedback Management Team (Level 4) GPO Box 9998 SYDNEY NSW 2001 (Note: if you are concerned about the security of your personal information you may prefer to use registered mail); or
  • e-mailing feedback@dva.gov.au - please note that if you choose to use this email facility your e-mail to us may not be secure. Please do not use this link to send DVA personal information. DVA will be unable to send any personal information via this link.
  • Alternatively, feedback (including complaints) can now be lodged by DVA MyAccount registered users through the online facility.

DVA can accept a complaint from a third party on behalf of a client (for example, an interested family member of a veteran). However, personal information cannot be disclosed to anyone without the client’s permission, unless a relevant Power of Attorney or Guardianship order is in place and has been advised to DVA


Feedback Management Policy

Our aim | Our approach | How feedback is dealt with

1. Our aim

DVA aims to achieve excellence in service delivery. To accomplish this, DVA will strive to continually improve the services it provides to members of the veteran and defence force communities. Complaints, compliments and suggestions for improvement are the most immediate and effective forms of feedback that will assist efforts to improve our service.

DVA is an organisation that welcomes and values feedback. We know sometimes errors are made. However, we want the opportunity to correct these and to improve and enhance our service.  DVA would also like to acknowledge staff members who are providing excellent service.  

DVA’s Service Charter is a public statement which details the range and quality of service that clients expect to receive from us.  Developed in consultation with the veteran community, Ex-Service Organisations and our staff, the Service Charter clearly states DVA’s commitment to providing excellent service and the standards by which the quality of this service will be judged. Our performance is measured against those standards and the results are published in DVA’s Annual Report.  Data drawn from records of complaints and compliments gives insight into how well we are meeting the standards expected of us and what we can improve. 

2. Our approach - we listen and learn

DVA welcomes and values feedback - such as complaints and compliments - from all who receive or provide DVA-funded services, or if they have an interest in veteran matters. Complaints will be treated in a confidential manner and issues that are raised will be dealt with fairly and equitably. DVA will respond to complaints by dealing with issues raised as quickly as possible. Irrespective of a complaint outcome, complainants will be provided with all the reasons for any decisions made. Any response will be provided to the complainant by the most appropriate means, and not necessarily in writing.

All staff in DVA are responsible for accepting, recording and dealing with complaints, compliments and suggestions for improvement that are received by the Department. The Feedback Management Team (FMT) oversees DVA’s feedback management process and may be contacted directly if required. However, please note that the FMT are not responsible for undertaking internal complaints investigations (see Section 3 for the role of the FMT).

DVA has a national system to support the monitoring and review of its service delivery performance. The Client Feedback Management System (CFMS) enables all complaints and compliments to be recorded by staff and facilitates complaint assessment, response and finalisation.  CFMS helps DVA understand what is working well and to identify general problems that may lead to changes in how we do business.

DVA will use the complaints it receives to improve its service delivery. DVA will also use information received from compliments to acknowledge staff members who have provided exceptional service.

DVA will continually review its feedback arrangements to ensure that they remain accessible to those seeking to provide feedback of any nature.

2.1 The basic principles of our feedback management system

DVA’s feedback management system is built on the following principles

Accessibility

DVA will widely publicise its feedback management system and how to access it.  Where required, staff will provide further assistance to enable people who need additional help to lodge feedback and make complaints.

Confidentiality

All staff will protect the privacy and confidentiality of complainants, enabling complaints to be lodged without fear of negative consequences and no one will suffer such consequences because they lodge a complaint.  Anonymous feedback can be accepted, but this may limit the response that can be provided.

Fairness and Equity

All complaints will be judged on merit and not be biased in favour of the complainant or any staff member involved.  Those lodging complaints will be given the opportunity to have their complaints handled by an officer not previously involved in the original issue.

Regular Review

DVA will regularly review the feedback handling process to ensure the accuracy of record keeping.

Openness and Accountability

Information will be published in the DVA Annual Report about the:

  • quantity of feedback received;
  • common areas of complaints and compliments;
  • average time taken to resolve complaints; and
  • level of satisfaction with the complaints process.

2.2 Definition of feedback

Feedback includes complaints, compliments and suggestions for improvement about a particular service, experience or event - not simply a statement of overall opinion about DVA’s services.  Typically, it will involve a specific transaction with either DVA or one of our service providers.

Feedback received by DVA can be in many forms, including (but not restricted to):

  • written correspondence to DVA, including letters, emails and facsimiles;
  • specific written correspondence to the Minister for DVA or another agency (such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman), which may be referred onto DVA for investigation and resolution;
  • in person, such as face-to-face or over the counter;
  • by telephone; and
  • through the DVA MyAccount online option.

2.3 Definition of a complaint

The definition of a complaint (which is consistent with Australian Standard ISO 10002-2006) is an:

Expression of dissatisfaction made to DVA, related to its products (including services), or the complaints-handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.

A complaint is not:

  • a request for information or explanation of policies; or
  • a disagreement with a decision that has a formal avenue of appeal.

If there is disagreement with a decision that has a formal avenue of appeal, information will be provided about the appeal process and no complaint will be recorded. The appeal process may involve an internal DVA review or review by an external body, such as the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Time limits may apply to applications to the VRB and the AAT.

However, if a disagreement includes a complaint about the service provided by DVA during its decision-making, a separate complaint may be recorded and investigated as appropriate.

In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to allow a review process to take its course before addressing a related complaint. In such cases, the complainant will be advised accordingly.

2.4 Compliments

A compliment is an expression of satisfaction about DVA’s staff, services or service providers on a specific occasion or relating to a particular matter. However, a compliment may also be in relation to a general feeling of satisfaction with DVA due to the service you have received over a period of time. Compliments provide relevant workplace examples that can be used in DVA client service training.

2.5 Suggestions for improvements

Suggestions for improvements in DVA’s services will be considered by the relevant business area.

2.6 Who can provide feedback?

Anyone can provide complaints, compliments or suggestions for improvements about DVA’s services, including:

  • veterans;
  • serving and former defence force members;
  • war widows and widowers;
  • family members;
  • carers;
  • Ex-Service Organisations;
  • contracted service providers;
  • professionals such as doctors, solicitors and accountants;
  • members of professional associations; and
  • the general public.

2.7 Can I make a complaint regarding any business area within DVA?

You are able to make a complaint, compliment or provide feedback about any business area, section, team or staff member within DVA.

However, there are specific areas that you should contact directly with specific complaints or compliments:

  • The Veterans' Review Board (VRB) is the claims review tribunal which is independent of the Repatriation Commission and the Department of Veterans' Affairs. If you have a complaint, it is best first directed to the local VRB Registrar by telephoning 1300 550 460.
  • Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) which is a specialised, free and confidential Australia-wide service, providing counselling and group programs to Australian veterans, peacekeepers and their families. If you have a complaint email vvcsfeedback@dva.gov.au or contact your local VVCS centre by telephoning 1800 011 046 and ask for the Director. For further details on providing feedback to VVCS, please see the VVCS Feedback and Complaints page.
  • Defence Service Homes Insurance (DSHI) scheme which provides housing insurance benefits to eligible veterans, ADF personnel and their dependants. For any complaints related to the scheme please contact the DSH Insurance State Manager by telephoning 1300 552 662 or by e-mailing insurance@dva.gov.au.

For all other sections within DVA, please refer to the following guidelines.

2.8 How to provide feedback – both complaints and compliments

Personal information that is provided as a result of feedback will be treated in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 to protect confidentiality. Only general information, such as statistics and common areas of complaints and compliments, will be made available publicly in DVA’s Annual Report.

To make a compliment or suggestion for improvement, please provide feedback to any DVA staff member in person, by phone or in writing. To call DVA ring 133 254 or from regional Australia 1800 555 254. Letters should be addressed to GPO Box 9998 in each capital city.

To make a complaint, the following steps are suggested for complainants:

Step 1:   If possible, you should raise the matter with the person you have been dealing with. To call DVA ring 133 254 or from regional Australia 1800 555 254.
Step 2:   If you are not satisfied with the response, you should ask to talk to the Manager of that section.
Step 3:   If you are still not satisfied with the response, please contact the Feedback Management Team at DVA by:

  • phoning the DVA feedback number on 1300 555 785; (this number is staffed during normal EST office hours but if staff are busy they will call back within one working day);
  • mail addressed to the Manager, Feedback Management Team (Level 4) GPO Box 9998 SYDNEY NSW 2001 (Note: if there are concerns about the security of your personal information you may prefer to use registered mail);
  • e-mailing feedback@dva.gov.au - please note that if you choose to use this email facility your e-mail to us may not be secure. Please do not use this link to send DVA personal information.  DVA will be unable to send any personal information via this link; or
  • Alternatively, feedback (including complaints) can now be lodged by DVA MyAccount registered users through the online facility.

DVA can accept a complaint from a third party on behalf of a client (for example, an interested family member of a veteran). However, personal information cannot be disclosed to anyone without the client’s permission, unless a relevant Power of Attorney or Guardianship order is in place and has been advised to DVA.

2.9 Information required for complaints

In responding to a complaint, the Department will rely on information provided by the complainant. The Department may need to contact the complainant to clarify issues or request further information where necessary.
To help DVA respond quickly and effectively to complaints, complainants will be asked to:

  • Provide as many specific details as possible about their situation and any action that has been taken to try to resolve the issues. Information that may be helpful includes letters or other correspondence that have been received or sent, names of staff members and dates that contact was made with DVA, details of discussions with staff or advocates, applications that have been lodged or services that have been used.  
  • Provide details of any DVA service providers that complainants have contacted and the provider’s actions and responses. In many instances the service standards of professional providers are governed by industry bodies and DVA is bound by the standards and governing principles of those bodies. Complainants, not DVA, will need to direct issues to these bodies if necessary. However, feedback will help DVA monitor the services of its contracted providers. 
  • Tell DVA what they would like done to successfully resolve the matter and the desired outcome. DVA will try to provide satisfactory outcomes for complainants. However, this may not always be possible.
  • Respond to our requests for information or clarification of matters in a timely manner, and treat our staff with courtesy and respect.

Complaints will only be able to be actioned where they raise clear issues or circumstances.

2.10 Our response to complaints

DVA is committed to dealing with complaints quickly and learning from them. We will strive to deal with any complaint at the first point of contact wherever possible, but it in many instances it will be necessary to pass on the details to a specific section for further investigation and resolution.

We will aim to meet the following service standards

Complaint channel

Acknowledge within

Resolve within

Online (MyAccount)

Upon lodgement

28 days

Telephone

Two working days

28 days

Email

Two working days

28 days

In person

Two working days

28 days

Mail

Five working days

28 days

DVA will strive to meet the above service standards wherever practicable. However, if the matter is complex, it may take longer to address the issue. If this is the case, DVA will ensure that complainants are given the contact details of the officer or area assigned to manage their complaint, and will keep them informed of progress and an expected resolution date.

The complainant will be given a reference number for the feedback provided which can then be used by DVA staff to track the progress of the complaint’s resolution. This reference number can also be used by the complainant if they need to contact DVA in relation to this issue.

A complaint about a particular issue will usually only be registered once. Where further information about the initial complaint is provided or a subsequent related complaint is made by the complainant, this may be registered separately, depending on the circumstances. Whether separate registration is warranted in such cases is at the discretion of the relevant business group. Where appropriate, additional information and subsequent complaints may be addressed in a single response in relation to the original issue.

2.11 Complaints to the Minister

If a complaint has been made to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Minister’s office will co-ordinate the timeframe for an acknowledgement and response, which may differ from the above service standards.

2.12 Unreasonable client demands/behaviours

DVA recognises that complaints are a valuable source of feedback to assist with efforts to improve our services. However, there may be occasions when the Department has to deal with unreasonable demands or behaviours from clients. This may include:

  • where a complainant raises the same issues that have been investigated previously, or pursues a complaint without presenting new evidence;
  • unreasonable persistence regarding outcomes, apologies or resolutions;
  • unreasonable demands relating to timeframes for resolution; and
  • complaints that are frivolous or vexatious, or not made in good faith (i.e., complaints raised without substance or to cause disruption to departmental operations or provocation, including to annoy or harass staff).

In such instances, complaints may not be registered and DVA, at the Secretary’s discretion, may take action to minimise or control its dealings with clients engaging in this kind of behaviour. If this occurs, DVA will ensure that the complainant is given clear advice and reasons as to why such action is taken.

DVA will also inform the complainant of other external complaint avenues to pursue.

2.13 External Complaint Mechanisms

If a complainant remains dissatisfied with the handling of their complaint, they will be advised they can also contact the appropriate external body. These may include:

  • the Commonwealth Ombudsman who can investigate complaints about the administrative actions of Australian Government departments and agencies including DVA. As a general rule, the Ombudsman will not, and in some cases cannot, investigate complaints until they have been raised with the agency. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can be contacted on 1300 362 072 or via the internet at http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/
  • the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), who can review decisions related to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests or in regard to breaches of privacy. The OAIC can be contacted on 1300 363 992 or via the internet on http://www.oaic.gov.au
  • the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) who investigates complaints of discrimination and breaches of human rights. The AHRC can be contacted on 1300 656 419 or via the internet on http://www.ahrc.gov.au

If a complainant with a complaint under investigation by the Department makes a complaint with an external body about the same substantive issue, the Department may pause its investigation pending the progression or outcome of the external body’s investigation. If this occurs, the complainant will be advised of this action.

3. How your feedback will be dealt with by DVA

3.1 Role of the Feedback Management Team (FMT)

The Feedback Management Team (FMT) do not undertake internal complaints investigations.  The FMT facilitate the use of the CFMS, ensure best practice is undertaken in resolving complaints and monitor the time taken to resolve complaints.

If complaints are received by the FMT they will register them in the CFMS, advise the complainant of the reference number and then forward the complaint onto the relevant business area for an investigation of the matters raised.

As well, the FMT regularly monitors and collates details regarding the intake, volume and categories of complaints. This information allows DVA to assess complaint numbers and to have an understanding of the issues being recorded, which client groups are providing feedback and other information that will assist with service recovery.

3.2 DVA response to feedback

The following table provides general information about what DVA will do when it receives certain types of feedback.

The following table provides general information about what DVA will do when it receives certain types of feedback.

Type of Feedback

DVA’s Actions

Compliments about DVA’s staff, services or service providers The compliment will be recorded in CFMS. DVA will recognise good work and pass on compliments to staff via their managers or contract supervisors.

Comments suggesting improvement

All suggestions for improvements will be forwarded to the managers of the relevant business areas for consideration.

Comments about a DVA decision that a client believes is wrong

DVA will clarify the client’s entitlements and explain the decision.  If the client is still dissatisfied, they will be advised to apply for a review through the formal avenue of appeal.  The officer dealing with the client will explain how to lodge an application for the review.

Comments about policy and legislation

DVA will refer enquiries to the relevant policy section. 

Complaints about services provided by DVA

The complaint will be recorded in CFMS.  If the complaint cannot be resolved at the first point of contact, the relevant business area of DVA will investigate the complaint. 

Complaint about a staff member

The complaint will be recorded in CFMS and reviewed by an appropriate senior officer. A staff member who is the subject of a complaint will not investigate that complaint.

The complaint will be recorded in CFMS and reviewed by a senior officer.  The staff member’s behaviour may be assessed against the DVA Service Charter and the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct. However, not all complaints upheld against staff will result in a Code of Conduct investigation

Complaints about contracted service providers

The complaint will be recorded in CFMS.  DVA will investigate the complaint through its contract management processes.   DVA will aim to satisfy complainants’ concerns as quickly as possible.  However, concerns may need to be directed by the complainant to professional standards bodies or the relevant State health commission:

  • Qld: Health Quality and Complaints Commission
  • NSW: Health Care Complaints Commission
  • ACT: ACT Human Rights Commission
  • Vic: Office of the Health Services Commissioner
  • Tas: Health Complaints Commissioner
  • SA: The Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner
  • NT: The Health and Community Services Complaints Commission
  • WA: The Health and Disability Services Complaints Office

Complaints about privacy breaches

The complaint will be recorded in CFMS and then forwarded onto the DVA Privacy Officer for investigation. If a complainant remains dissatisfied, a complaint may also be lodged with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on 1300 363 992 or via the internet at http://www.oaic.gov.au

Complaints about lack of access to your personal information 
- Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 1982 complaints

The complaint will be recorded in CFMS and then forwarded onto the FOI section for investigation. If a complainant remains dissatisfied, a complaint may be lodged with the: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on 1300 363 992 or via the internet at http://www.oaic.gov.au; or the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office; or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on 1300 366 700 or via the internet at http://www.aat.gov.au

Complaints about discrimination

The complaint will be recorded in CFMS and will be investigated by a senior independent officer.  If a complainant remains dissatisfied, a complaint may also be lodged with the Commonwealth Ombudsman, or the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419 or via the internet at http://www.hreoc.gov.au/