Secret report obtained by the ABC reveals reasons for huge backlog of 37,000 veterans’ compensation claims
The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has kept secret a damning report into its own staff shortages and delays in processing claims.
- A McKinsey report analyzed why DVA was taking so long to process compensation claims for veterans and serving defense personnel
- The Department of Veterans Affairs declined to release the report on its processes
- The Albanian government has pledged to eliminate the backlog of claims and will employ another 500 people
The report is now public and it shows that there is a backlog of approximately 37,000 applications.
New Veterans Affairs Minister Matt Keogh promises to speed up the processing of compensation claims filed by the Australian military, by hiring 500 more people in the department.
Some readers may find the details of this story distressing.
Deborah Morris is a military researcher and veterans advocate who filed a compensation claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs six and a half years ago.
His request has still not been resolved.
She claims she was raped by a superior shortly after starting her service in 2002.
Ms Morris said it was not just the long delay in processing the application that affected her, but the way the Department of Veterans Affairs handled the case.
“There is the application of bad law, there is a significant number of privacy breaches by the department, there is also a significant loss of procedural fairness time and time again,” he said. she declared.
“Now that’s not welfare for someone who has served. That’s workers’ compensation legislation for injuries that occur in connection with your workplace.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs told Ms Morris that her application had not yet been processed because the legislation is complex.
But Ms. Morris believes that this explanation is insufficient.
“The legislation has been out for at least 20 years,” she said.
Secret report finally revealed
The frustration of veterans and serving members with pending applications has been compounded by DVA’s refusal to release a report on its processes.
He commissioned this report from McKinsey consultants at a cost of $1.6 million.
The CBA obtained a copy of the report through an Access to Information request.
Alan Ashmore, who served in Vietnam and advocates for fellow veterans, tried to get a copy of the report through Freedom of Information for months, but was rebuffed.
After ABC’s The World Today program obtained a copy of the report, Mr Keogh ordered that it be posted on the DVA website.
He blamed the delays on the Morrison government.
“The previous administration that kept the McKinsey report secret is an example of how it completely lacked accountability and bound itself with envy by trying to suppress this report instead of just implementing it,” he said. he declared.
“And there’s no doubt we’ve seen that manifest in the plight of veterans through the way the department works.”
He said the Albanian government is committed to eliminating the backlog of claims and will employ another 500 people at the department.
“We are turning a new page here and we want to continue to implement what can be implemented from this report as soon as possible. »
Asks the Royal Commission to consider the report
The Royal Commission on Defense and Veterans Suicide is investigating whether DVA delays in processing compensation claims could be a factor in some deaths.
Mr Keogh said anything that puts extra pressure on veterans needs to be addressed.
“If we can alleviate and reduce that pressure by processing those requests as quickly as possible, that’s really important,” he said.
Veterans’ lawyer and former army officer Glenn Kolomeitz said it was “essential” that the royal commission see and question the document.
“Everything about the DVA claims handling and appeals processes and the huge delays and backlogs needs to be looked at – as to whether or not it contributes to a veteran’s suicidal ideation or suicide,” he said. -he declares.
“And that’s exacerbated by the fact that DVA makes continuous, high-impact mistakes in its decision-making, which slows the process even further.”
Mr Ashmore said he would ensure Australians who served their country got the compensation they deserved.
“I’m 74 now, I want to get on with my life, but I’m like a lot of other veteran defenders – we’re not ready to sit back and watch our friends do more.”