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Relationships with Commonwealth agencies

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) enjoys strong relationships with many other Commonwealth entities, managed by clear governance arrangements and focused on the achievement of planned outcomes.

The department has a longstanding relationship with Defence, which shares responsibility for providing care and support to Australian Defence Force members. To deliver its services to veterans and their families effectively, DVA also works with the departments of Human Services, Health, Social Services, and the Prime Minister and Cabinet; the Digital Transformation Agency; the Australian Government Actuary; and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

DVA's digital transformation process is supported by cross-government bodies, including the Veteran Centric Reform Interdepartmental Committee, which provides advice about the design and implementation of DVA's transformation, and the Transformation Program Board, which ensures its successful implementation.

Defence

DVA and Defence work together as the core providers of care and support for Australian Defence Force (ADF) members at all stages during and after their careers.

Defence has the lead in caring for and supporting current ADF members, while DVA has the lead in caring for and supporting widows, widowers, dependants and wounded, injured or ill former ADF members. DVA is also responsible for providing compensation and other support to eligible current and former members.

Those roles are detailed in a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which also sets out:

  • governing principles for cross-agency processes, funding arrangements, information sharing and communication protocols
  • provisions for monitoring the performance of the Support Continuum — a coordinated and integrated support system that extends across Defence and DVA to deliver the required level of care and support to wounded, injured or ill current and former members.

Cooperation between DVA and Defence is managed through two joint committees. The Defence DVA Executive Committee is the principal governing body, and the Defence Links Steering Committee implements the strategic direction set by the executive committee.

Defence and DVA continue to work collaboratively on a range of strategic and operational initiatives to deliver improvements to veteran services and family support.

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Department of Human Services

DVA and the Department of Human Services (DHS) are working together to build the Information and Communication Techology (ICT) infrastructure to support DVA's future service delivery needs. The two departments are also trialling ways to expand DVA's service footprint through technology and by leveraging the physical reach of DHS.

Online services

In partnership with DHS, DVA is developing a web service aligned with the Australian Government's Digital Service Standard. Based on a successful trial of a service enabling children of veterans to submit their claims for education assistance online, the two departments are developing the ICT capability to deliver income payments to around 170,000 veterans.

MyService, a redesign of DVA's initial claims process, commenced on 3 April 2017, providing veterans and their families with a simpler way to interact online. By 30 June 2018, more than 4,300 people had registered with the service, which is expanding to include all types of claims and enable computer‑based decision-making.

Physical services

DVA is piloting new service delivery arrangements to use DHS and Australia Post staff and premises to increase access to services for veterans and their families, particularly those living in regional and rural areas, and to provide opportunities for those who are not yet known to DVA to connect. Work is underway to:

  • improve training for DHS service centre staff who deliver services to veterans and their families
  • support better services for veterans via the DHS mobile service centres operating in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania
  • trial the use of DHS agents at 17 locations in rural, regional and remote areas to provide a basic level of information about DVA and services to veterans and their families.

In 22 locations, DHS provides the Veterans' Information Service (VIS) for veterans and their families through a shared services arrangement. The VIS directs interested people to a DHS officer trained by DVA to provide general information about its services. DHS VIS officers can access DVA's information system to respond to specific veteran entitlement enquiries. In 2017, 4,873 visits were made to DHS VIS sites.

Corporate services

During 2017–18, DVA transitioned its internal staff payroll services and human resources system to DHS's shared services hub. A cross-agency team successfully delivered a complex project that directly impacted over 2,000 staff, involved multifaceted systems and diverse employee entitlements and arrangements, and took into consideration DVA's agency culture and maturity.

The transition aligns with the Australian Government's agenda for a smaller, smarter and more productive and sustainable public sector. It has enabled DVA to avoid unnecessary ICT upgrades and ensured that it is ready to comply with future reporting requirements. It enables DVA staff to benefit from greater online functionality and reporting for human resources functions.

A new schedule under the DVA–DHS statement of intent is in place to guide operational governance arrangements.

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Department of Health

DVA engages with the Department of Health on policies and programs across the areas of health, aged care and community services. For health care, DVA has regular interactions that cover medical, dental and allied health policy and services, as well as pharmaceutical benefits arrangements. For aged and community care arrangements, DVA has regular interactions that cover joint responsibilities around residential aged care, the Government's ongoing reforms to aged care, and the interactions between home care programs administered by the two departments.

The Department of Health manages the My Aged Care portal, a central source for Australian Government information on aged care for consumers, carers and service providers. The portal provides links to the DVA website and other information for veterans. DVA participates in joint Australian Government and state and territory government forums that discuss the implementation of the portal and other community and aged care service issues across jurisdictions.

A key pillar of DVA's digital transformation is the development of an analytics capability that can be used to drive policy and program delivery. DVA is working with the Department of Health to develop an integrated DVA–Health dataset that will inform a whole-of-population view of issues, leading to better health outcomes for all Australians, including veterans.

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Department of Social Services

DVA engages with the Department of Social Services (DSS) on a range of matters, including carers policy; disability policy, including interactions with the National Disability Insurance Scheme; and income support arrangements, particularly changes to aged care means testing. DVA attends two interdepartmental committees led by DSS: one on disability and the other on carers.

DSS hosts the Community Grants Hub (www.communitygrants.gov.au), an online facility designed to deliver a simpler and more consistent approach to the administration of Australian Government grants. As part of a shared services arrangement, DVA's grant program was opened for online applications through the hub in early 2018.

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Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Under an MOU between the departments, DVA receives services from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA). DVA is working with BETA to evaluate behavioural approaches designed to provide veterans with earlier access to services better targeted to their needs.

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Digital Transformation Agency

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is the advisory and assurance body for the implementation of the Australian Government's Digital Transformation Agenda, and has a role in analysing the impacts of new ICT proposals at the whole-of-government level.

The Department:

  • works with the DTA to apply the Digital Service Standard to the design of online services
  • seeks advice from the DTA on ICT proposals
  • engages with the DTA on myGov work, through the member services forum and related cross-agency governance committees.

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Australian Government Actuary

DVA has an MOU with the Australian Government Actuary to provide actuarial investigations of the costs associated with the MRCA and DRCA; actuarial investigations of DVA's leave liabilities and other provisions; and data for DVA's financial statements and budgeting processes.

The Australian Government Actuary also assists Proactive Interventions, an element of DVA's digital transformation that includes a framework to enable DVA to understand and monitor the expected outcomes of veterans and their dependants over their lifetimes and, in doing so, identify groups who may benefit from decision-making more closely informed by their lifetime dynamics.

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Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

DVA has an MOU with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to develop a comprehensive profile of the health and welfare of Australia's ex-serving population.

While DVA has a client–provider relationship with around 20 per cent of today's ex-serving population, the health and welfare status of the remaining 80 per cent is largely unknown to DVA. The collaboration draws on existing datasets to address the gap.

The data will provide population-level insights into domains such as experience, life course, family functioning, gender and risk factors. These insights could enable reporting on a range of outcomes, including homelessness and long-term unemployment, which will assist DVA to design and plan policy interventions to enhance health and wellbeing outcomes for the ex-service community.

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