ESO Round Table — summary of meeting 2 August 2012

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The Ex-Service Organisation (ESO) Round Table met for the 19th time in Canberra on 2 August 2012. The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed members and representatives.

Two new members were introduced: Air Vice Marshal Brent Espeland AM (Ret’d) from the Air Force Association (AFA) (replacing Air Vice Marshal Roxley McLennan AO) and Mr Gordon Blake, President of the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council.

The following submissions from members were discussed at the meeting:

Killed on active service medal for next of kin (NoK)

Members were advised the Chiefs of Service Committee has considered the award of a Defence memorial cross and has decided not to consider the matter further. The three services will soon provide a ‘family pin’ to be given to families in recognition of the member’s deployment.

Update of application for carers allowance

An update was sought on the changes to the Carers Allowance form, and concerns raised that it does not cover veterans with memory problems, mental health issues and TPI. Members were advised that an assessment tool and medical report are also considered in conjunction with the Carers Allowance form when determining allowances. A robust proposal would need to be provided to FaCSIA for recommending changes to the current policy.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the link to early onset dementia

Dr Killer responded to the submission stating that there is a link between PTSD and dementia but it needs to be clearly defined and a study would need to be conducted. Dr Killer also spoke about the monitoring of ADF members exposed to mBTI and the studies conducted to date.

Ms Kate Wallace from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet briefed the members on the establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) and gave an overview of the not-for-profit reform agenda. Members raised a few concerns including financial implications, red tape, applications, volunteers and governance arrangements. A number of peak bodies have been involved in the consultation process and issues identified are currently being dealt with.

Members also received a briefing on the position of DVA and Defence funding of Nominal Rolls. The costs are based on many factors including time to construct records. Members agreed that the Nominal Rolls would be of enormous value and are an important part of the historic record, but also understand the costs involved.

Members were also shown the clip ‘Now, After’, a short film on PTSD from an American soldier’s point of view. A local production company will be employed to produce a similar film for Australians, which will be available to all ESOs.

Members were provided with Departmental updates on the following:

BEST Round 14 and the Service Delivery Integration (SDI) grant process

The grants package for BEST Round 14 has been signed off by the Minister. Concerns raised including workload, accurate returns and welfare with be looked into for Round 15 and a random audit will be conducted.

Vietnam Veterans Family Study

The study’s research will be re-phased and final publication due in early 2014. The results of the Timor-Leste study will be released in late 2012.

CMVS MyAccount

A national rollout is expected to occur in September 2012. MyAccount has been very successful so far and all members agreed it is an excellent tool.

Support for Wounded, Inured and Ill Program (SWIIP) and On Base Advisory Service (OBAS) — updates from Defence and DVA

Recommendations from the review are currently being implemented. A key activity is member support coordination to assist Defence members to engage with providers and understand what ESOs do. Very positive feedback has been received in relation to OBAS.

Single claim process

The department is in the process of finalising the Single Claim form and guidelines and final feedback with be sought from Operational Working Party and ESO Round Table members prior to seeking agreement from the Repatriation Commission.

Draft Repatriation Commission Guidelines on the Special Rate and Intermediate Rate of disability pension under VEA

All feedback received has been positive. Commission has made changes to Special Rate Guidelines to include consideration of the nature and quality of a person’s work.

Anzac Centenary

The Australian Government is working with the Turkish and New Zealand Governments regarding Anzac Day services at Gallipoli in 2015. There is also considerable and increasing public interest in attending Anzac Day services at Villers-Bretonneux.

Other business

Mrs Audrey Blood announced her retirement as National President of the War Widows Guild and subsequently the ESO Round Table.

Major General Fogarty discussed the release of the Operational Service Medal.

Mr Bayles discussed the progress of the MRCA review recommendations and that the legislation will possibly be introduced in the Parliamentary Autumn Session.

Members were shown a range of DVA promotional products and their feedback was noted.

The date of the next meeting is 25 October 2012.

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