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ESO Round Table - summary of meeting 10 August 2016

The Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT) met for the 34th time in Canberra on
10 August 2016.

The Chair welcomed Mr Rod White AM RFD to the ESORT as the newly-elected
National President of the Returned and Services League of Australia.

The Chair also acknowledged Rear Admiral Brett Wolski AM RAN who attended his first ESORT as a member of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

The ESORT congratulated Ms Narelle Bromhead on her Queen’s Birthday Honour.

Minister’s Address

The Chair welcomed the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, to the morning session of the ESORT. The Minister outlined the Coalition Government’s election commitment to veterans, particularly in regards to $6 million towards veterans’ mental health and $1 million for ESOs to be provided with training around suicide.

The Minister also expressed a commitment to further work around transition, especially in relation to the complex points in the process.

Chief of the Defence Force’s Address

The Chair welcomed the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF), Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin AC, to the morning session.

The CDF outlined several key focus areas in his role, such as the health and wellbeing of ADF members and their families. Integral to that focus is the ADF’s mental health strategy, the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme, annual mental health checks for serving members and working with DVA on suicide data matching.

Following the CDF’s address, both the Minister and CDF held a round table discussion with members.

Transformation

Members were updated on the Department’s Transformation initiatives and given a tour of the Veteran Centric Reform Lighthouse Project.

Evaluation of Alternate Dispute Resolution Trial

The ESORT was updated on the evaluation of the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Trial for Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) hearings.

The trial was evaluated by Mr Stephen Skehill. Members declared the trial a resounding success and supported the full implementation. The ADR will now be rolled out in a staged manner starting in 2016-17.

Advocacy Training and Development Program

An update was provided on the progress of the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP).

As of 1 July 2016, the ATDP commenced managing advocacy training previously provided by the Training and Information Program (TIP). TIP courses will continue to operate while they are progressively replaced with the ATDP courses over the next six to 12 months. .

The ESORT was advised both TIP and ATDP are covered by insurance while the transition to ATDP occurs.

BEST Funding Formula

The ESORT discussed the BEST Funding Formula, particularly in regards to a number of environmental factors where changing the BEST grant calculation formula would be advantageous, namely:

  • Introduction of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Case Conferencing;
  • Increasing aged care demands on Ex-service Organisations (ESOs); and

  • Introduction of the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP).

There were several recommendations for changes to the BEST funding formula for Round 19 (2017-18), and for this funding round members supported:

  1. an ADR workload rating of 15 points be applied and be subject to a review in 12 months following the national rollout of the ADR;
  2. in principle, that the BEST formula provide a higher points rating for ATDP advocates and a lower points rating for TIP advocates from BEST Round 19 (2017-18) to encourage ESOs to move their advocates across to the new program; and

  3. the revised opening dates proposed for applications under BEST Round 19 (2017-18 FY) and that late applications will no longer be accepted.

Private Hospital Procurement

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

86 of 87 private hospital providers have now agreed to the Department’s revised terms and conditions.

Guest Presentations

The ESORT heard three guest presentations, two of which were continuations from the April ESORT meeting. Mr Bill O’Chee from RSL Queensland returned to the ESORT to give a further update on veteran homelessness, while the Aspen Foundation’s Mr Bruce Armstrong and Mr Andrew Condon CSC also returned to discuss their organisation’s Ex-Service Organisation Mapping Project.

Ms Margot Kropinski-Myers from the Department of Defence delivered a presentation on Defence Honours and Awards, informing the ESORT of the Australian Defence Medal.

Member Submissions

The ESORT heard two member submissions from the Vietnam Veterans’ Association of Australia, relating to inconsistencies in the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and Special Rate Disability Pension (SRDP), and Service Pension, Gold Card and SRDP Temporarily Totally Incapacitated Pension.

The next meeting of the ESORT will be held on Thursday 10 November 2016.

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