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ESO Round Table - summary of meeting 12 April 2016

The Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT) met for the 33rd time in Canberra on 12 April 2016.

The Chair welcomed Mr Tony Ralph OAM to the ESORT as the newly-elected National President of Legacy Australia Inc.

The Chair also acknowledged Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM and Rear Admiral Brett Wolski AM RAN (an apology), who were both acting as members of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

The ESORT congratulated Mr Orme and Ms McCabe on their Australia Day Honours.

The Chair also paid tribute to the passing of Brigadier Bill Rolfe AO (Ret’d), and the ESORT observed a minute’s silence in his honour.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

The Chair welcomed the new Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, to the morning session of the ESORT. The Minister acknowledged the passing of Brigadier Rolfe and expressed his priorities for the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio.

The Minister also held an informal ‘Q&A’ session with the ESORT members.

Terendak Repatriation

The ESORT received an update on the Terendak Repatriation from Mr Ken Corke, the new Director of the Office of Australian War Graves.

The ESORT was advised the arrival in Australia of those repatriated from Terendak and Kranji Cemetery was currently planned for 2 June 2016 at RAAF Richmond.

Private Hospital Procurement

The ESORT was updated on the Department’s private hospital procurement process.

A key focus for the Department is the quality of care provided to DVA clients, particularly in regards to the provision of private rooms.

Review of Dental and Allied Health Arrangements

The Department provided a further update on the review of dental and allied health arrangements.

Members received correspondence from the Department seeking an indication of their desired nature and level of engagement with the review.  This invitation closed on 21 January 2016. The Department received three nominations, one each from the War Widows’ Guild of Australia, the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) and the Vietnam Veterans’ Federation of Australia.

Mefloquine

The ESORT were updated on Mefloquine use in the ADF and the Defence response to date.

The presentation also highlighted to members Mefloquine’s place in the Repatriation Medical Authority’s Statements of Principles.

The Chair advised the ESORT that an article on Mefloquine would be published in Vetaffairs to raise further awareness in the veteran community.

Update on the Veterans Employment Assistance Initiative (VEAI)

An update was provided on the VEAI.

After the conclusion of the first phase of the VEAI, 75 participants are now involved in some form of workforce participation. The second phase commenced in March 2016 and involved around 100 DVA clients.

Updates to Veterans’ Vocational Rehabilitation Scheme (VVRS)

The ESORT was updated on the VVRS.  From 20 March 2016, the extension of psychosocial and medical management rehabilitation to the VVRS will result in whole-of-person rehabilitation across all three Acts.

Guest Presentations

The ESORT heard two guest presentations.  Mr Stewart Cameron CSC and Mr Bill O’Chee from RSL Queensland gave an overview of their organisation’s work on veteran homelessness, while the Aspen Foundation’s Mr Bruce Armstrong and Mr Andrew Condon CSC updated the ESORT on their organisation’s Ex-Service Organisation Mapping Project.

Member Submissions

The ESORT heard three member submissions:

  • TPI Federation Australia and Partners of Veterans’ Association (PVA) provided a joint submission requesting the appointment of a DVA liaison officer (or a hotline for ESOs) to liaise on behalf of veterans and their families regarding Department of Health and Centrelink issues;
  • TPI Federation Australia provided a submission outlining the need for a consultative forum that deals specifically with the issues of female veterans and clients of DVA; and
  • The PVA provided a submission requesting the funeral benefit under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to be increased.

The next meeting of the ESORT will be held on Wednesday 10 August 2016.

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