This page gives you general information about the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) and how the VRB will deal with your case.
The VRB is part of the veterans and military rehabilitation and compensation determining systems. It is a tribunal created by Parliament to review decisions about disability pensions, war widow(er)’s pensions, and attendant allowance under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA); and rehabilitation, compensation and other benefits under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).
The VRB reviews decisions made by officers of DVA who have been given power under the VEA to decide claims for pensions. It is independent of the Repatriation Commission, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission and DVA. The VRB is made up of members who decide cases, and staff who assist the members.
There are four types of members:
- Principal Member
- Senior Members
- Services Members
The Principal Member is responsible for the overall operations of the VRB. Senior Members are usually lawyers and they preside at hearings. Services Members are selected from nominations submitted to the Minister by Ex-Service Organisations. The other Members have a wide variety of qualifications. All members are appointed by the Governor-General. To see who the VRB members are, visit the Organisational Structure, Membership and Senior Staff page of the VRB website.
ADR is a term which describes “alternative” process which can help parties to finalise a case. There is no need for a VRB hearing, so related expenses and time of a hearing can be avoided. Involvement in an ADR process does not mean that the parties forgo their right to a hearing if the application is not finalised.
The VRB’s General Practice Direction sets out the procedure for ADR program cases and non-ADR program cases. In ADR program cases the first step is one mandatory outreach. If an application is not finalised at the first outreach, the next possible ADR step and the requirements for a hearing will be discussed. In non-ADR program cases limited ADR in the form of case appraisals and neutral evaluation is available to all applicants. If an application is not finalised by an ADR process it will be listed for hearing.
The General Practice Direction is available from the Publications page of the VRB website.
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.
Whenever it decides a case, the VRB must apply the law as set out in the VEA or the MRCA, and other related legislation.
You may talk to the VRB members about your case at your hearing, which is held in private. The VRB encourages you to take part in your hearing. You can do this by coming along to the hearing, or by asking the VRB members to ring you during your hearing.
It would be helpful if you could send the VRB any papers that you think support your case as early as possible before the hearing.
You do not have to attend your hearing but the VRB members usually find it helpful to talk to you, preferably in person or otherwise by phone. The VRB will decide your case in your absence if you do not wish to take part in the hearing, but they may still ring to ask you some questions to help them make their decision. They will only ring you if you agree to this arrangement.
The VRB holds hearings in each State capital (except Darwin) and in Canberra. Hearings are also sometimes held in various regional centres.
Members will do their best to make you feel at ease. They will need to ask you some questions to clarify the evidence in your case and to help them decide whether your claim should be granted or refused. Hearings are recorded, and you may obtain a copy of that recording.
The VRB will not be able to tell you their decision at the hearing, unless the VRB decides to give oral reasons for its decision.
The VRB will send the decision and reasons to you as soon as possible after the hearing, usually within a few weeks. If you were represented at your hearing, a copy of the VRB’s decision and reasons will be sent to your representative.
The VRB cannot discuss the reasons for the decision in your case.
Veterans’ Review Board