27 September 2023

DVA reforms found good for compo claims

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The Veteran Centric Reform Program (VCR) at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has begun to pay dividends according to the Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman who found no areas of significant concern about the Department’s policy and procedural framework for managing communication with veterans during the compensation claims process.

Acting Commonwealth Ombudsman, Penny McKay said her Report, The Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ communication with veterans making claims for compensation, examined the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) communication with veterans who made claims for compensation for injuries and conditions related to their service.

“We observed that DVA’s policy and procedural framework is relatively mature, and DVA is progressing several positive initiatives to further improve its approach to service delivery, including better communication with veterans throughout the claim process,” Ms McKay said.

“We acknowledge that DVA is currently implementing some initiatives as part of the VCR Program and this is likely to further improve DVA’s approach to communicating with veterans,” she said.

“While this investigation did not identify any significant concerns about DVA’s policy and procedural framework for managing communication with veterans during the claim process, we identified some opportunities for improvement.”

Ms McKay said good communication, through the delivery of clear and regular information to veterans throughout the claim process, could help to manage veterans’ expectations and reduce feelings of uncertainty, anxiety or frustration while waiting for claims to be assessed.

“One of the main initiatives under the VCR Program is to improve services for veterans and their families through better claims processing,” she said.

“Good communication with veterans is essential to this initiative.”

The Acting Ombudsman made eight recommendations aimed at improving the transparency and quality of information provided to the veteran community and guidance for DVA staff to support effective communication with veterans.

“I am pleased DVA accepted all eight recommendations and acknowledge their commitment to continual improvement to support the wellbeing of the veteran community and their cooperation with this investigation,” Ms McKay said.

The Acting Ombudsman’s 23-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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