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Activity in 2016–17

In 2016–17, the full Commission held 11 formal meetings and considered 61 submissions. The subcommittee of the Commission held four meetings and considered nine submissions.

Matters considered during 2016–17 included:

  • high-level policy and procedures relating to the MRCA
  • delegation of Commission powers and amendments to the Treatment Principles
  • contracting and tendering for the supply of a range of health and support services
  • possible amendments to the MRCA that may be particularly sensitive for government or key stakeholders, in particular the service and ex-service communities
  • assistance for contemporary widows, widowers and dependants.

Over the past five years, the number of matters considered by the MRCC has declined substantially, from 211 submissions in 2012–13 to 70 in 2016–17. Much of the decline has been a consequence of delegated decision-making by the MRCC and the development of full MRCC policies and guidelines to support decision-making by the MRCC delegates.

The Commission’s overall level of activity under the MRCA increased significantly from 2004 (when the Act commenced) until 2012, and has been slowly declining since then.

Reviews

The Department has a role in Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) applications in relation to decisions of the MRCC. The Department prepares reports of the decisions under review and provides staff to advocate on behalf of the MRCC before the AAT. The MRCC is not represented at VRB hearings.

The Commission will occasionally apply for a review by the AAT of a VRB decision under the MRCA.

During 2016–17, the Department analysed the primary level decisions set aside at reconsideration stage by the VRB and the AAT on administrative reviews in 2015–16. The analysis showed that:

  • Of 19,323 MRCA primary decisions, 538 (2.8 percent) were set aside at the section 349 reconsideration, VRB or AAT stages. Of all Commission decisions at the primary level and section 349 reconsideration stage, only 2.0 percent were set aside or varied at the VRB or AAT level.
  • Of 9,444 SRCA primary decisions, 187 (2.0 percent) were set aside at the section 62 reconsideration or AAT stage (the VRB is not involved in SRCA matters). Of all Commission decisions at the primary level and section 62 reconsideration stage, only 0.2 percent were set aside or varied at the AAT level.

The analysis showed that a low proportion of primary level decisions and determinations under both Acts are being set aside.

Single Access Mechanism

The Single Access Mechanism facilitates the transfer of information and relevant service and medical records between the Department of Defence and DVA for current and former members of the ADF.

DVA uses these records to assist in the determination of claims under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, MRCA and SRCA. They include records of service, overseas postings, leave confirmations, workplace health and safety incident reports, medical and psychological reports, and financial statements.

The DVA Single Access Mechanism team receives, actions and monitors all requests for Defence records. Approximately 25 percent of compensation determinations require the team to request records from Defence as part of the determination process. In 2016–17, 14,623 Single Access Mechanism document requests were completed, compared with 16,032 in 2015–16. This continues a gradual decrease since 2013–14 when there were 24,350 requests completed.

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