Abandonment Rate of Compensation Claims

Verity Pane made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Veterans' Affairs

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Department of Veterans' Affairs should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

I apply under FOI, s 17 in particular, for summary statistical information to be provided on the abandonment rate of initial liability and permanent impairment compensation applications made against the Department by veterans (and if possible, broken down to the abandonment rate for veterans under 40 years of age [young veterans], and those over 40 years of age [older veterans]).

Rather than get too far ahead, if the Department can indicate if it already formally reports these statistics, we might see if what you already produce might suffice.

If the Department does not formally collect these statistics, we can refine the scope from there, based on what the Department advises it can collate and tabulate.

‘Abandonment’ is when a veteran makes a formal application for initial liability and/or compensation to the Department, which the Department then commences to investigate and determine, but is either withdrawn by the veteran before this process completes, or else is rejected by the Department and the veteran does not seek review of that decision.

In particular, it would be useful to see when abandonment rates peak, in terms of how much time has passed since application was first made. Antidotal evidence from ESOs appears to suggest abandonment rates are worst when the claim has been in process for multiple years, and veterans effectively ‘give up’ in exhaustion.

Antidotal evidence suggests DVA does compile these statistics internally for senior management, but it is unclear much much detail they provide.

It would also be helpful if this information could be split between the relevant Acts (MRCA, VEA, SRCA and its replacement), to see if there is any significant variation.

Early conferral would be appreciated, and given the multiple reviews underway at present of DVA’s efficiency and effectiveness and other service issues, this sort of analysis coincides with the sort of data the Productivity Commission, the Australian National Audit Office and the other review bodies generally seek, so opportune time to apply for it.

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

INFORMATION.ACCESS, Department of Veterans' Affairs

Dear Verity Pane

I refer to your request for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act). Your request is set out in your email below.

We received your request on 29 March 2018 and the 30 day statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. You should therefore expect a decision by Monday, 30 April. The period of 30 days may be extended if we need to impose a charge or for other reasons. We will advise you if this happens.

If you have any questions, please contact us using the following details:

Post: GPO Box 9998 CANBERRA ACT 2601
Facsimile: (02) 6289 6337
Email: [email address]

Kind regards

Information Law Team

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INFORMATION.ACCESS, Department of Veterans' Affairs

2 Attachments

Dear Verity Pane,

I refer to your request for access to information set out in your email below.

Please find attached a decision and one document which I have decided to release to you in accordance with that decision.

Please contact the Information Law team on the following details if you have any questions:

Post: Legal Services & Assurance, Department of Veterans’ Affairs
GPO Box 9998 CANBERRA ACT 2601
Facsimile: (02) 6289 6337
Email: [email address]

Kind regards,

Information Law team.

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Dear Authorised Officer Position Number 01003014 (No names, no pack drill these days at DVA apparently - seems inconsistent with the alleged reform agenda the Department advertises it is undergoing to become ‘more friendly’),

While I appreciate a response being received, after the Department ignored my offer to consult, it is disappointing the response, when it did turn up, had no relevance to the scope of the FOI application made.

I sought information on abandonment rates, which bizarrely the Department claims it does not bother recording (as Peter Drucker’s famous business maximum states “What gets measured, gets managed”), even after the Jesse Bird scandal, who committed suicide shortly after he abandoned his DVA claims, after prolonged repeated failure of the Department to follow its own policies.

But perhaps we can salvage something.

You state:
The Department does not record abandonment rates. The Department records when the claim has been withdrawn, although does not record the reason for withdrawal. Nothing this, some of the reasons for the claims being withdrawn, in no particular order, are:
 Claimant choice
 No relevant service
 No relevant conditions
 Claimant non-compliance
 Registered in error

And certainly some of the withdrawal rates are high (10% plus), but withdrawal seems only to apply when a veteran formally writes to the Department to cancel assessment of a claim made, which is a very narrow thing, or if the Department apparently rejects the claim as falling outside the scope of the relevant scheme or the Department wrongly registered a claim.

And apparently the Department does not even record the reason why it considers a claim withdrawn and just lumps all these together, which again runs contrary to governance and monitoring principles.

As you only state some of the reasons a claim might be considered formally withdrawn, it is unclear if this information may even contain what I am interested in.

I would therefore appreciate if the Department could advise me, administratively, if it has any monitoring ability to know if:
*a veteran, who has started a claims process for either liability or permanent impairment, but then becomes non-responsive, has withdrawn or abandoned the claim due to frustration or simply resignation? What actions does a delegate take when a veteran simply stops communicating about or responding to an open claim? What happens if a delegate is advised by a veteran they are simply giving up in the face of the bureaucratic maze of barriers? Are they referred to anyone or is there any system of follow up by the Department?
* there are a higher rate of withdrawals or abandonments for any particular delegate? Is there any internal recording at all, beyond summary level across the Department?
* appropriate risk management controls are in place to ensure at risk veterans are identified and given support and assistance?

As highlighted, it also has become apparent that the Department has started to anonymise delegate names behind a non-descript position number nom de plume. Can you administratively advise when this practice was adopted and authorised by DVA policy and which SES officer authorised it (or if more than one SES officer, which DVA executive committee approved it), and if available, the reasons stated at the time of authorisation/approval for this practice and how it aligns with DVA’s veteran centric reforms agenda.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

Dear Alexander Gent,

Still awaiting a response.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane