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ESO Round Table - summary of meeting 24 January 2012

Members of the ESO Round Table and/or their representatives met with members of Minister Snowdon’s Office and DVA on 24 January 2012 to discuss how to manage the BEST grants program in the future.  This was the second meeting to specifically discuss BEST and reinforced the intent of all parties to address matters of strategic importance in a collaborative way.

Participants in the meeting had the opportunity to review the data that had formed the basis of decision-making for BEST Round 13 (2011/12 financial year).  This laid a strong foundation of shared knowledge for more detailed discussions.

There was strong support from members on the use of a funding formula to assist in future assessment processes, based on workload.

To that end, the participants discussed the various types of workload undertaken by ESO practitioners – both pensions and welfare - and agreed a common set of definitions for which work should be measured, and what weighting particular types of workload should have.  For example, it was agreed that VRB and AAT cases should have a higher weighting than, say, primary compensation claims, given the additional complexity and time.  These definitions and weightings were considered important in ensuring that all BEST applicants fully understood the requirements of the application process.

All members were agreed that:

  • The meeting had been a significant opportunity to assist DVA in advising the Minister on the policies and procedures for future BEST funding allocations;
  • assessment processes should be transparent;
  • outcomes of the assessment process should be equitable;
  • applications from all ESOs should be considered in future assessment processes (that is, the eligibility criteria should again be broadened to include those who were not funded in the previous round); and
  • ESO presidents at both the National and State levels should have a role to play to ensure that grant funding is directed to the areas of greatest need amongst the veteran and defence communities.

There was no discussion about any changes to eligible items.

Participants agreed to provide DVA with comments on the various options for funding allocations by Wednesday 8 February 2012.  DVA will then determine what more needs to be done before making a formal submission to Minister Snowdon for his consideration.

DVA advised that it was likely Round 14 would open in early to mid February 2012.

Members expressed their appreciation to DVA for the progress that had been achieved both since the previous meeting and also at this meeting.  They will meet again on 21 March 2012.

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