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ESO Round Table - summary of meeting 5 March 2014

The Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT) met for the 25th time in Canberra on 5 March 2014.  Mr Shane Carmody, National President, Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) opened the meeting on behalf of the Chair. 

Mr Carmody welcomed Ms Wendy Charlton, Interim National President, War Widows' Guild of Australia, Mr David Gray, National Chairman, Legacy Australia Council and congratulated Mr Jason Ames-Smith on his appointment as National President, Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen and Women (TPI). 

Mr Carmody acknowledged the work of Ms Anne Bonner, the immediate Past President, War Widows' Guild of Australia, Mr Charles Wright, the immediate past National Chairman, Legacy Council Australia and Mr John (Blue) Ryan immediate past National President TPI, thanking them for their valuable contribution to this forum. 

The following member submission was discussed at the meeting:

Mental Health Support Programs

Members discussed support programs that are currently available for veterans seeking assistance.  There was further discussion on family support, regional access and the impacts of domestic violence.  DVA is also working closely with Defence to ensure those transitioning are aware of the support available to them.

Members were provided with Departmental updates on the following:

National War Cemetery Proposal and Western Front Interpretive Centre Proposal

The proposed national war cemetery and a major interpretative centre on the Western Front.  The proposed interpretive centre, if progressed would complement the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.  A brief update on progress of Office of Australian War Graves international projects was provided including the missing images of 52 Vietnam War Dead.

Anzac Centenary Program Update

The Anzac Centenary Public Fund (the Fund) was officially launched and has been assigned fundraising status. There were further discussions on the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board, the Gallipoli 2015 ballot, the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program, the Royal Australian Mint’s commemorative coin program, Centenary merchandising and the Anzac Centenary communications campaign.

Albany Update

Progress of the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event 31 October 2014 – 2 November 2014 was discussed.  The Western Australian Government and City of Albany are currently in the process of changing the name of the Anzac Interpretive Centre to the National Anzac Centre. 

Telephony Services

Significant changes have been made to DVA’s telephone environment culminating in the deployment of a national contact centre to resolve 75% of all calls generated via the DVA General Enquiries numbers of 133 254 and 1800 555 254.  DVA is in the process of transitioning to a new telephony platform with anticipated completion by the end of the 2013/14 financial year.

DVA Online Services

The Choice and Maintainability in Veterans’ Services (CMVS) program and in particular MyAccount services were discussed.  Members also discussed the pilot ESO online portal. ESPRT member feedback is being sought on the portal design and access to the site during the development phase. 

TIP Accreditation and BEST Round 16 Funding

BEST Round 16 will be open for applications shortly.  DVA is conducting a review of Advocacy Training beginning with a significant consultation phase.  The review is expected to be completed by the end of this financial year with findings expected to be implemented over the next two financial years. 

Change to operational area time period under Schedule 2 of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act (VEA) (Malaysia 1966/67)

Members were advised of the proposed changes to the VEA to align the end date of service described in section 7 of Schedule 2 with advice received from the Department of Defence.   The proposed amendments will be tabled during the Autumn sitting.

E-Health Registration

Members discussed the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR).  DVA is promoting both assisted registration via a general practitioner or at local community events, and the Department of Human Services (DHS) PCEHR Helpline 1800 723 471.    As at the end of January 2014, there were 269 veteran registrations via this channel. 

Update on Coordinated Veterans Care (CVC) and Presentation of the Telemonitoring Equipment

As at 7 February 2014, 22,655 Gold Card holders were enrolled on CVC, with over 4,700 GPs participating in the Program.  Over 6,000 Practice Nurses, GPs and Practice Managers have participated in the CVC training.  The second interim CVC evaluation report from DVA’s independent monitoring provider has been received.  As part of the evaluation process, surveys were conducted with both CVC participants and their health providers. 

Aged Care Reform

Members received a detailed update on the changes being introduced through the Aged Care Reforms package which commenced on 1 August 2013.

Future DVA Hospital Purchasing

Members were advised of the current Mental Health Private Hospitals tender. There was also further discussion on the new set of national accreditation standards for PTSD group treatment programs.

Mental Health Research - Veterans’ Mental Health in Prison

An overview of veterans’ mental health in prison was provided noting that the health and welfare of clients is DVA’s main priority.

VEA / SRCA / MRCA Communication with Defence

Current communication protocols between DVA and Defence were discussed.  Under the SRCA and MRCA, DVA is explicitly required to advise Defence of outcomes of claims from members.  DVA will now be using a broader power within the VEA to provide the same sort of information to Defence for claims determined under the VEA, for current serving members only.

Ministerial Arrangements

The Government considers Veterans’ Affairs as a critical part of an integrated and coordinated Defence portfolio.  A key priority of DVA is to ensure that the relationship with Defence is enhanced through the Defence-Links, in particular providing an opportunity for high level officers of the two departments to meet to discuss and resolve issues.

Capability Review Update

An overview of the Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) Capability Review Program currently underway.  Each Commonwealth agency will be involved in an independent assessment on how its people, processes and systems enable the delivery of outcomes against future objectives and challenges. 

Veterans’ Affairs Consultation Framework (NCF) - Forum Updates

The emerging themes discussed at the Deputy Commissioners’ Consultation Forums included; health matters, DVA’s service delivery model, the complaints and feedback scheme, mental health, MyAccount, BEST and TIP, Anzac Centenary commemorations, younger veterans, the needs of families and social media.

Under Other Business

  • Members discussed the Borneo and Malaya campaign nominal roll.
  • Members were advised of the Defence ESO Briefing Day scheduled for 13 August 2014. 
  • Members were provided an update on the outcomes from the Defence Medibank Private contract client satisfaction survey. 

The next meeting will be held in May 2014.

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