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YVF - Summary 16 April 2014 meeting

Background

The National Consultation Framework (the Framework) is a comprehensive consultative structure, designed to facilitate communication between the veteran and ex-service community and the Repatriation and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commissions and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  The aim of the Framework is to establish more formal channels for consultation that better suit today’s ex-service and defence communities.

A review of the Framework commenced in early 2013 as part of DVA’s Strategic Plan 2010-2015, with the aim of examining the effectiveness and relevance of the Framework within the contemporary ex-service community landscape and departmental environment.  The Review Steering Committee (the Committee) comprised of:

  • Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC - Repatriation Commissioner (Chair)
  • Ms Carmel McGregor PSM - Deputy Secretary, Defence People, Department of Defence; and
  • Major General David Chalmers AO CSC - First Assistant Secretary, Client & Commemorations Division, Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The Committee consulted  extensively with existing membership of the Framework fora; the Australian ex-service community; Australian Government departments and other key stakeholders in the Australian community.  Following the consultation period, the made the recommendation DVA amalgamate the existing Emerging Issues Forum, Operational Working Party and National Mental Health Forum into the Younger Veterans - Contemporary Needs Forum (YVF). 

Meeting 1 Summary

The Forum convened in Canberra on Wednesday 16 April 2014 for its inaugural meeting. 
The Forum will assist in identifying issues and provide recommendations for improvements in DVA’s operational policy for veterans and their families.

The YVF discussed:

  • Choice and Maintainability in Veterans Services (CMVS) Online Services;
  • key focus areas for the Department in communicating and engaging with Younger Veterans;
  • the status of the Review of Veterans’ Advocacy Training and the Rehabilitation Review Project;
  • the Service Delivery Reform programme and DVA’s new strategic plan, DVA Towards 2020;
  • DVA Mental and Social Health policy priorities and programs; and
  • member submissions received on homelessness in the younger veteran community, psychosocial rehabilitation and emerging and alternative treatments for mental health. 

Choice and Maintainability in Veterans Services (CMVS) Online Services

CMVS Program Manager Tony Pianca and his team led the Forum through a presentation and real time demonstration of current CMVS services.  The presentation provided members with an overview of how CMVS is providing online services now and into the near and long term future to support veterans and their families’ interaction with the department more efficiently and proactively.

Communicating with Younger Veterans

The Forum was provided with an update on the department’s commitment to improving communication with younger veterans.  Areas identified for focus include:

  • relevant and cohesive social media an communications channels for younger veterans and serving members;
  • communicating with families of younger veterans including young children; and
  • strengthening partnerships and communication channels through existing and emerging ex-service organisations, defence associations and family networks of serving and ex-serving personnel.

DVA Mental and Social Health policy priorities and programs

An overview of Mental and Social Health policy priorities, developed in collaboration with Defence Joint Health Command, was provided to members.  The Forum heard there will be an increased focus on resources for research into transitioning personnel and on developing social connectedness strategies.  Members acknowledged that there was still work to be done to destigmatise mental health within the veteran and general communities.

Members were also reminded that veterans can access counselling at anytime during the claim period, regardless of the outcome of the claim.  Veterans do not have to wait until the conclusion of the claims process to access appropriate mental health treatment.

Member submissions covering a range of matters were also discussed. These included:

  • learning lessons from the Vietnam veterans era;
  • homelessness and partial homelessness in the younger veteran community;
  • childcare at VVCS;
  • how to achieve the best psychosocial rehabilitation outcomes for clients;
  • the potential for utilising emerging and alternative treatments for mental health; and
  • access to services for referral of clients in crisis.

The Forum will meet a further two times in 2014, in July and again in October.

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