Backbrief - ESORT Meeting of 18 Sep 23

By Ian Lindgren
Categories: APPVA | DVA

In this post we will cover off on the  Ex-Service Organisations Round Table (ESORT) Meeting of 18 Sep 23.   I will cover the areas that were not identified as sensitive, and I will not breach the Chatham House Rule.

Our Executive Director, Chris Moss, attended with me as our permanent observer.



I want to state at the outset that this was the most productive ESORT I have attended thanks to the new Secretary and her new team of senior executives.   We got things done.  There are a lot of things to continue to work on, but now we are doing it as a team with DVA, and I'm pleased to say that the veterans assisting us, are in the main from organisations that have little or no contact with DVA or any organisation through which they can have their issues heard and resolved.

Outstanding Items

A lot of outstanding items were closed, however the ones we can discuss are:

  • Aged Care.   There is concern about the quality of service to aged care.  While it was not an APPVA subject. I had been contacted by the family of a 90-year-old widow, and it was clear to me that when we do have to go into homes, our children are left to liaise with DVA.   Often, they know nothing about DVA and one of the action items that arose was to discuss it.  I had prepared a chronological sequence of events, which allowed us to delve into the matter further. Andrew Kefford PSM, the new Deputy Secretary Policy & Programs, met during the week and we plan to review the sequence of events together next week. Our objective is to identify both positive and negative aspects and promptly address any areas that can be resolved.
  • Open Arms 24/7.   I raised the concern that Open Arms is advertised as a 24/7 service and it's not.  It causes great angst when families need details and they cannot get them, and likewise to veteran organisations when they want information to help someone overseas in distress at home, there is no one to help you after hours.   I discussed that during the week with the new Chief Operating Officer & Deputy Secretary Client Benefits Teena Blewitt PSM
  • MyService.  There was some discussion about this and a lot I cannot go into.   However, there will be some form of warning to consider using ad advocate because we do see MyService as both a good tool, and a not so good one.  It's not good when you can complete a claim without all the documents.  I am confident it will improve.

DVA Priorities.   We discussed DVA priorities and now there are times when they send 20,000 pages of information going back decades to the Royal Commission and we could see that.  Good cooperation with the Royal Commission. 

Claims.  The Initial Liability backlog is lower than the Permanent Impairment backlog for the first time in three years. As a side note, the reason Claims statistics are on the DVA website is because APPVA asked for it; not that the clarity of information we requested was put up.  I noted this week that one of the new senior executives was improving it.  More to follow on that.  

Advocacy.  There was discussion on improving advocacy.  I cannot go into the details, but the APPVA is leading one particular aspect on governance.  All the working group works as a team.  Again, DVA public servants working as a team with the veteran community is a theme.

United Nations & Overseas Policing Association of Australia (UNOPAA).  UNOPAA presented to the ESORT because the AFP does deploy with and without ADF support.  UNOPAA were requesting membership.   That one is with the Secretary.

The Terms of Reference to ESORT.  The APPVA has been concerned about this since June last year when we realised it was the document that gave the veteran members of ESORT no authority.   Not that this stopped us from speaking up.   We approved a good part of the current Terms of Reference to change, and the ultimate outcome is that we are there with DVA to work as a team and sort out things at the operational level for the whole community, not just each other's organisations.   

Follow On APPVA Notes for Information

Deputy Secretary Veteran, Family & Stakeholder Engagement, Alison McLaren is driving the push for an internal to DVA policy on how to engage better with the veteran community and other stakeholders.  The APPVA is working directly with Alison and her team, and we have asked Australian Veteran Gaming to help us in the past.

On 11 October 2023 the first co-chaired DVA and Veteran Community meeting will occur.  I will be the veteran co-chair, and we have asked the Australian Commando Association ACT, Swiss8, Defence Industry Networking Canberra, the TPI Federation, and Partners of Veterans to join us that day and test this initiative.

Ian Lindgren



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