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ESO Round Table - summary of meeting 27 March 2013

The Ex-Service Organisation (ESO) Round Table met for the 21st time in Canberra on 27 March 2013.  The Chair welcomed members and representatives to the meeting.  The Chair introduced Major General Dave Chalmers AO CSC (Retd), the new First Assistant Secretary, Client and Commemorations Division.

Members provided the following submissions for discussion at the meeting:

Welfare Services

BEST Round 15 is open and will close on 30 April 2013.  The Round 14 formula has been used as the basis for the calculation process for Round 15 grants, however some key components have been changed.  These changes are, in the main, a response to information gathered in a 2012 review of BEST support for welfare services.  These changes include the introduction of support for out-of-pocket expenses related to welfare work and were detailed in a handout provided to members. 
It was also noted that the Minister had indicated support for a proposal to provide some assistance for professional welfare services through a mechanism other than BEST grants.

Training and Information Program (TIP)  Recommendations

Members received an update on the implementation progress of the 16 recommendations on TIP, particularly the recommendation relating to accreditation.  DVA has consulted with the Australian Qualifications Framework to determine options and will consult at the TIP conference in May 2013 regarding a mentoring program or accreditation.

National Broadband Network (NBN) and Personal Response Units (PRU)

Concerns were raised regarding DVA-supplied PRUs which may no longer operate on the new NBN once connected. Dr McPaul recognised this is a technically complex issue involving many contributors, a number with which DVA has and will continue to liaise.

Revised Arrangements for Medical Support to ADF members

Rear Admiral Walker, Commander Joint Health Command, Department of Defence addressed specific issues raised by members and advised of the establishment of a complaints register for thorough investigation and resolution of complaints. Members also discussed support available to ADF members with mental health conditions from DVA and Defence as well as the necessity for cultural change.

Members were provided with Departmental updates on the following:

MRCA Review and consultation update

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (Cth) (MRCA) Review Bill which was introduced into the House on 20 March 2013 and will be debated in the winter sittings.

MRCA Review update: Recommendation 29.2 – Veterans’ Vocational Rehabilitation Service Review

Rehabilitation under the three respective pieces of legislation have been reviewed with a whole of person approach. The name of the service will change to the Veterans’ Rehabilitation Scheme, which appropriately reflects the expanded services it will provide and would remove the emphasis on solely vocational assistance.
The VRS will be a voluntary scheme, that clients can opt in or out of at any stage.  The scheme expires after seven years – which is cumulatively calculated and time can be frozen if the member stops and starts work.

Rehabilitation Manual update of the retraining and further education charter

Members were asked to provide feedback on the rehabilitation manual guidelines. Tertiary study will be included as part of the rehabilitation program.

An overview of Commemorations and Anzac Centenary activities

Members were briefed on managing attendance at Gallipoli in 2015, the international Anzac Day services for 2013 and the Australian Remembrance Trail on the Western Front.
Members were also advised the Anzac Centenary logo and Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program guidelines and application forms are available at www.anzaccentenary.gov.au

Joint Initiatives

The Memorandum of Understanding for improved support services for current and former ADF members was jointly signed by senior Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence representatives on 5 February 2013. This MOU is formal recognition of the joint responsibility to provide care and support to a transitioning ADF member and family.
Members also received updates on the implementation of recommendations for the Seriously Wounded Injured and Ill program; updated statistics on the On Base Advisory Service and the two service models for dependants and complex and multiple needs respectively.

Online Tools

Members received a demonstration on the new ‘PTSD Australia Coach’ and ‘On Track with The Right Mix’ mobile applications and a sample of the mental health YouTube videos accessible via the link on the DVA website.
Updates on the functionality and client usage rates of MyAccount, the Entitlements Self Assessment Tool and online pension rate tool were provided.

Other Business

An update was provided on the Australian Charity and Not-for-Profit Commission.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, 15 August 2013.

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