All incoming applications to the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) will be examined by a Review Officer within DVA (a process referred to as ‘screening’). If the Review Officer decides not to intervene as part of the screening process and the decision remain unchanged, your appeal will proceed to the VRB. The Review Officer will advise you or your representative of the outcome of the screening process.
For appeals that proceed to the VRB, a report will be prepared to detail all the evidence under the control of DVA that is relevant to the decision you are appealing. The report will then be provided to you, the VRB and anyone acting on your behalf.
You should be prepared to explain at your hearing why you believe the conditions of your service may have caused the injuries, disease or death being claimed. The following may help in preparing for your hearing:
- Review the report and determine if there is any relevant information that is to be provided to support your case
- Review the Statements of Principles (SOPs) related to your claim
- Discuss your medical evidence with your General Practitioner (GP) or treating specialist (it will help if you show them the departmental report and the SOP/s)
- Written notes about reasons you think conditions or events on service may have caused injury, disease or death
- Other people who might be able to give evidence to support your case or about accidents or illnesses that are not recorded in service documents. These people may be able to come to your hearing. If they are not able to attend, they may be able to give you a written statement or be available to speak to the Board Members by phone during the hearing.
The VRB will write to you, or your representative if you have nominated one, and ask if you are ready to proceed to a hearing (i.e. a Certificate of Readiness). You will also be asked to tell the VRB how you would like your application to be heard.
The VRB holds a hearing to decide most cases. Cases are decided by a panel of three members — a Senior Member, a Services Member and one other Member. However, if a member is ill or unavailable, a case may be decided by two Members. All hearings are held in private and the VRB encourages every applicant to take an active role in the hearing. You do not have to attend the hearing, but the Members usually find it helpful to talk to you.
Whenever it decides a case, the VRB must apply the law as set out in the VEA or the MRCA, and other related legislation.
After your hearing, the VRB will send you a copy of its decision and reasons. If you are dissatisfied with the VRB's decision you may appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
In some cases the VRB may be able to make a decision without you needing to attend a hearing. This may happen as part of the VRB’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. As each appeal is different, the VRB will work with you to find a suitable approach for your case.