This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Quality of claims processing'.

LEX 56478 
Decision and Statement of reasons issued under the Freedom of 
Information Act 1982  

Decision and reason for decision of Natalie (Position Number 62211022),  
Senior Information Access Officer, Information Access Unit, Client Access and Rehabilitation 
Branch, Department of Veterans’ Affairs 

Mr Alan Ashmore  
Decision date: 
2 June 2023 
FOI reference number: 
LEX 56478 
Sent by email: 
Dear Mr Ashmore,  
Freedom of Information Request: LEX 56478 
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Department) has undertaken a reasonable search of its 
records and has not been able to identify any documents relevant to your request.  
For this reason, I have made a decision to refuse your request under section 24A(1)(b)(ii) of 
the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), as the documents do not exist. 
Authority to make decision 
I, Natalie (Position Number 62211022), Senior Information Access Officer, Information 
Access Unit, Client Rehabilitation Access Branch, am an officer authorised by the Secretary of 
the Department to make decisions about access to documents in the possession of the 
Department in accordance with section 23(1) of the FOI Act.  
On 6 March 2023, you made a request for access to documents in the possession of the 
Department. Your request sought access to: 

‘….I am seeking:     
:  All documents, including internal emails, prior to the formal commencement of 
reassessing relevant batches where excessive error rates are noted, and   
:  All documents, including internal emails, pertaining to the results of all reviews 
undertaken as a result of Recommendation 9.3...' 
Background: -  
Recommendation 9.3 of the Productivity Commission, June 2019 was, “if DVA’s 
quality assurance processes identifies excessive error rates (for example, greater 
than the Department’s internal targets), all claims in the batch which the sample 
was obtained should be recalled for assessment.”  
DVA’s response on their website noted, “Progressing,” then “the implementation of 
this recommendation will involve on-going improvement…’ 
On 9 March 2023, the Department acknowledged your request via email.  
As no extensions of time have been applied to process your request, a decision on your 
request was due by 5 April 2023. 
Material taken into account  
In accordance with section 26(1)(a) of the FOI Act, my findings on any material question of 
fact, the material on which those findings were based and the reasons for my decision to 
refuse access to your request follows.   
I have taken the following material into account in making my decision: 
  the terms of your request on 6 March 2023; 
  the types of documents that are in the possession of the Department; 
  my correspondence with different business areas within the Department; 
  Sections 3, 11 and 11A of the FOI Act which give the Australian community a legally 
enforceable right to obtain access to information held by the Government of the 
Commonwealth. I also considered the following provisions of the FOI Act relevant to 
my decision: 
-  Section 15        Request for Access; 
-  Section 17 
Requests involving use of computers etc. (e.g. requests for the  
Department to create a document) 

-  Section 24A      Request may be refused if documents cannot be found or do not 
  Guidelines issued by the Australian Information Commissioner under section 93A of 
the FOI Act (FOI Guidelines).  
A full extract of all FOI Act provisions used to make my decision are provided in Schedule 2.  
Reasons for decision  
Requests may be refused if documents cannot be found, do not exist or have not been received 
(section 24A) 

10.  Section 24A(1) of the FOI Act provides that an agency  or Minister may refuse a request for 
access to a document if:   
a.  all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document; and 
b.   the agency or Minister is satisfied that the document:  
(i)  is in the agency's or Minister's possession but cannot be found; or  
(ii)  does not exist.  
11.  I am satisfied that all reasonable steps have been taken to find information relevant to your 
request, having regard to:  
  the terms of your request; 
  the subject matter of the documents; 
  the current and past file management systems and the practice of orderly destruction 
or removal of documents; 
  the Department’s record management systems and practices; and 
  the individuals and areas within the Department who may be able to assist with the 
location of the information you seek access to. 
12.  Despite the reasonable searches undertaken, the Department has been unable to identify 
documents relevant to your request. A description of the searches undertaken to locate the 
documents which you are seeking to access is at Schedule 1

13.  For these reasons, I am refusing your request for access to documents as described in your 
request in accordance with section 24A(1)(b)(ii) of the FOI Act, on the basis that the 
document do not exist. 
Requests involving use of computers etc. (section 17) 
14.  In making my decision to refuse your request I also considered the application of section 17 
of the FOI Act and whether a document could be created to meet the terms of this part of 
your request.   
15.  Subject to section 17(1)(c)(i), I decided that the department was not in a position to create a 
written document, via the use of a computer or other equipment that is ordinarily available 
to the department for the purposes of retrieving or collating stored information.   
Your rights of review 
16.  If you are dissatisfied with my decision, you may apply for internal review or request the 
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) review my decision. We 
encourage you to seek internal review as a first step to resolve any concerns you may have. 
OAIC review  
17.  Under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may apply to the OAIC to review my decision. An 
application for review by OAIC must be made in writing within 60 days of the date of this 
letter, and be lodged in one of the following ways: 
Director of FOI Dispute Resolution 
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner 
GPO Box 5218, Sydney NSW 2001 
(02) 9284 9666 
1300 363 992 
18.  More information about your review rights under the FOI Act is available in Fact Sheet 12 
published by the OAIC:


Contact us 
19.  If you wish to discuss this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the Information Access 
Unit using the following details: 
Information Access Unit 
Department of Veterans’ Affairs 
GPO Box 9998, Brisbane QLD 4001 
1800 838 372 
Yours sincerely, 
Natalie (Position Number 62211022) 
Senior Information Access Officer  
Information Access Unit 
Client Access and Rehabilitation Branch 
Department of Veterans’ Affairs 
2 June 2023 

LEX 56478 
Schedule 1 
Summary of document searches  
While DVA supports the intent of the recommendation around improving quality of claims decisions, 
DVA did not support the proposed reviewing of all decisions in a quality assurance batch where a 
high error rate is found in response to Recommendation 9.3. DVA prefers to adopt a case by case 
approach through its existing quality assurance program and takes corrective action on errors and 
trends found in specific case decisions examined in quality assurance batches, for example, staff 
training, system changes, and issue of guidance, policy clarification and new policy advice for staff, 
and work in this space is ongoing. Therefore no documents exist within scope of your request. 

LEX 56478 
Schedule 2 
Schedule of relevant provisions in the FOI Act  
Objects - general 
(1)  The objects of this Act are to give the Australian community access to information held by the 
Government of the Commonwealth or the Government of Norfolk Island, by: 
(a)  requiring agencies to publish the information; and 
(b)  providing for a right of access to documents. 
(2)  The Parliament intends, by these objects, to promote Australia’s representative democracy by 
contributing towards the following: 
(a)  increasing public participation in Government processes, with a view to promoting 
better-informed decision-making; 
(b)  increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government’s activities. 
(3)  The Parliament also intends, by these objects, to increase recognition that information held by the 
Government is to be managed for public purposes, and is a national resource. 
(4)  The Parliament also intends that functions and powers given by this Act are to be performed and 
exercised, as far as possible, to facilitate and promote public access to information, promptly and at 
the lowest reasonable cost. 
11   Right of access 
(1)  Subject to this Act, every person has a legally enforceable right to obtain access in accordance with 
this Act to: 
(a)  a document of an agency, other than an exempt document; or 
(b)  an official document of a Minister, other than an exempt document. 
(2)  Subject to this Act, a person’s right of access is not affected by: 
(a)  any reasons the person gives for seeking access; or 
(b)  the agency’s or Minister’s belief as to what are his or her reasons for seeking access. 

11A   Access to documents on request 

(1)  This section applies if: 
(a)  a request is made by a person, in accordance with subsection 15(2), to an agency or Minister for 
access to: 
a document of the agency; or 
an official document of the Minister; and 
(b)  any charge that, under the regulations, is required to be paid before access is given has been 
(2)  This section applies subject to this Act. 
Other provisions of this Act are relevant to decisions about access to documents, for example the 
(a)  section 12 (documents otherwise available); 
(b)  section 13 (documents in national institutions); 
(c)  section 15A (personnel records); 
(d)  section 22 (access to edited copies with exempt or irrelevant matter deleted). 
Mandatory access—general rule 
(3)  The agency or Minister must give the person access to the document in accordance with this Act, 
subject to this section. 
Exemptions and conditional exemptions 
(4)  The agency or Minister is not required by this Act to give the person access to the document at a 
particular time if, at that time, the document is an exempt document. 
Access may be given to an exempt document apart from under this Act, whether or not in response to a 
request (see section 3A (objects—information or documents otherwise accessible)). 
(5)  The agency or Minister must give the person access to the document if it is conditionally exempt at a 
particular time unless (in the circumstances) access to the document at that time would, on balance, 
be contrary to the public interest. 
Note 1: 
Division 3 of Part IV provides for when a document is conditionally exempt. 
Note 2: 
A conditionally exempt document is an exempt document if access to the document would, on balance, 
be contrary to the public interest (see section 31B (exempt documents for the purposes of Part IV)). 
Note 3: 
Section 11B deals with when it is contrary to the public interest to give a person access to the document. 
(6)  Despite subsection (5), the agency or Minister is not required to give access to the document at a 
particular time if, at that time, the document is both: 
(a)  a conditionally exempt document; and 
(b)  an exempt document: 
(i)  under Division 2 of Part IV (exemptions); or 
(ii)  within the meaning of paragraph (b) or (c) of the definition of exempt document in 
subsection 4(1). 

Requests for access (as related to the requirements for requests) 
Persons may request access  
Subject to section 15A, a person who wishes to obtain access to a document of an agency 
or an official document of a Minister may request access to the document.  
Requirements for request  
The request must:  
be in writing; and  
state that the request is an application for the purposes of this Act; and  
provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably necessary to 
enable a responsible officer of the agency, or the Minister, to identify it; and  
give details of how notices under this Act may be sent to the applicant (for 
example, by providing an electronic address to which notices may be sent by 
electronic communication).  
(2A)    The request must be sent to the agency or Minister. The request may be sent in any of the 
following ways:  
delivery to an officer of the agency, or a member of the staff of the Minister, at the 
address of any central or regional office of the agency or Minister specified in a 
current telephone directory;  
postage by pre-paid post to an address mentioned in paragraph (a);  
sending by electronic communication to an electronic address specified by the 
agency or Minister. 

Requests involving use of computers etc 
a request (including a request in relation to which a practical refusal reason exists) 
is made in accordance with the requirements of subsection 15(2) to an agency;  
It appears from the request that the desire of the applicant is for information that 
is not available in discrete form in written documents of the agency; and  
it does not appear from the request that the applicant wishes to be provided with 
a computer tape or computer disk on which the information is recorded; and  
the agency could produce a written document containing the information in 
discrete form by:  
the use of a computer or other equipment that is ordinarily available to the 
agency for retrieving or collating stored information; or  
the making of a transcript from a sound recording held in the agency;  
the agency shall deal with the request as if it were a request for access to a written 
document so produced and containing that information and, for that purpose, this Act 
applies as if the agency had such a document in its possession.  
An agency is not required to comply with subsection (1) if compliance would substantially and 
unreasonably divert the resources of the agency from its other operations.  

Decisions to be made by authorised persons 
(1)  Subject to subsection (2), a decision in respect of a request made to an agency may be made, on 
behalf of the agency, by the responsible Minister or the principal officer of the agency or, subject to 
the regulations, by an officer of the agency acting within the scope of authority exercisable by him or 

her in accordance with arrangements approved by the responsible Minister or the principal officer of 
the agency. 
(2)  A decision in respect of a request made to a court, or made to a tribunal, authority or body that is 
specified in Schedule 1, may be made on behalf of that court, tribunal, authority or body by the 
principal officer of that court, tribunal, authority or body or, subject to the regulations, by an officer 
of that court, tribunal, authority or body acting within the scope of authority exercisable by him or 
her in accordance with arrangements approved by the principal officer of that court, tribunal, 
authority or body. 
 (see section 11A). 
24A   Requests may be refused if documents cannot be found, do not exist or have not been 

Document lost or non-existent  
(1)  An agency or Minister may refuse a request for access to a document if:  
(a)  all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document; and  
(b)  the agency or Minister is satisfied that the document:  
(i)  is in the agency's or Minister's possession but cannot be found; or  
(ii) does not exist.  
not received as required by contract  
(2)  An agency may refuse a request for access to a document if:  
(a)  in order to comply with section 6C, the agency has taken contractual measures to ensure that it 
receives the document; and  
(b)  the agency has not received the document; and  
(c)  the agency has taken all reasonable steps to receive the document in accordance with those 
contractual measures.  
26    Reasons and other particulars of decisions to be given 
(1)  Where, in relation to a request, a decision is made relating to a refusal to grant access to a document 
in accordance with the request or deferring provision of access to a document, the decision-maker 
shall cause the applicant to be given notice in writing of the decision, and the notice shall: 
(a)  state the findings on any material questions of fact, referring to the material on which those 
findings were based, and state the reasons for the decision; and 
(aa)  in the case of a decision to refuse to give access to a conditionally exempt document—include 
in those reasons the public interest factors taken into account in making the decision; and 
Note: Access must generally be given to a conditionally exempt document unless it would be contrary to the public 
interest (see section 11A). 
(b)  where the decision relates to a document of an agency, state the name and designation of the 
person giving the decision; and 

(c)  give to the applicant appropriate information concerning: 
his or her rights with respect to review of the decision; 
his or her rights to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner in 
relation to the decision; and 
the procedure for the exercise of the rights referred to in subparagraphs (i) and 
(ii); including (where applicable) particulars of the manner in which an 
application for internal review (Part VI) and IC review (Part VII) may be made. 
(1A)  Section 13 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 does not apply to a decision 
referred to in subsection (1). 
(2)  A notice under this section is not required to contain any matter that is of such a nature that its 
inclusion in a document of an agency would cause that document to be an exempt document. 
(see section 11A).