Code of Conduct investigations

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

The request was successful.

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

I request statistical information on the number of code of conduct complaints DVA receives, and how many are formally investigated.

As you would be aware, s 17(1) of the FOI Act provides that where information requested is not available in discrete documentary form, and the agency could produce a written document containing that information sought from records ordinarily available to the agency, the agency must produce the document (except in very limited circumstances otherwise).

For calendar years 2015. 2016, and 2017 year to date, I request:
* The number of Code of Conduct complaints received; and
* The number of Code of Conduct complaints actually investigated

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Dear Verity Pane,

The Department does not ordinarily maintain records of code of conduct and associated complaints and investigations by calendar year. The Department does, however, have information on complaints relating to Code of Conduct breaches by financial year.

Compiling the information by calendar year will involve identifying relevant files that might come within the terms of your request, and examining those files to determine the relevant dates on which complaints were received and investigations commenced. Some of the relevant files are likely to be held in hard copy only.

If you were to modify the scope of your request to financial years starting 2013/14 to date, then a decision can be provided more quickly.

Could you please advise whether:
- you agree to modify the scope of your request to involve financial (rather than calendar) years; or
- if you require the information on the basis of calendar years – you agree to an extension of time of 10 days to process your request under s 15AA of the FOI Act. You would therefore expect a decision by 1 June 2017.

Kind regards,

Alexander Gent
Legal Officer
Information Law
Legal Services & Assurance Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs | www.dva.gov.au
ph (02) 6289 6581 | ext 616581 | e [email address]

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Alexander,

Financial years from 2013/14 is fine.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Alexander,

Just to clarify, to avoid confusion, when I referred to Code of Conduct complaints received by DVA, I was referring specifically to Code of Conduct breaches alleged by clients of DVA.

And when I asked for the number of those complaints formally investigated, I was referring to DVA formally appointing an officer to investigate the Code of Conduct breach/es alleged.

I am happy to receive this data by financial year, in lieu of calendar year, for 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, and 2016/17 financial year to date.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Dear Verity Pane,

Thank you for your email.

We understand your revised request to be in the following terms:

For the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/2016 financial years and the 2016/17 financial year to date -

The number of Code of Conduct breaches alleged by clients of DVA.
The number of Code of Conduct breaches alleged by clients of DVA in which DVA formally appointed an officer to investigate the Code of Conduct breach/es alleged.

The Department does not ordinarily maintain statistics in the above categories. We also note that there are some differences between the categories of your revised request and those of the original.

Accordingly, we seek your agreement to an extension of time of 10 days to process your request under s 15AA of the FOI Act. You would therefore expect a decision by 1 June 2017.

Kind regards,

Alexander Gent
Legal Officer
Information Law
Legal Services & Assurance Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs | www.dva.gov.au
ph (02) 6289 6581 | ext 616581 | e [email address]

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Alexander,

There are no differences between the original request and the clarification to avoid error - the word "received" in the original request clearly refers to external Code of Conduct allegations (internal Code of Conduct complaints would be initiated by DVA, not received, because you don't receive something from yourself). And I'll remind you that it was DVA that asked for the change to financial years, compared to calendar years.

As previously stated in my FOI request "s 17(1) of the FOI Act provides that where information requested is not available in discrete documentary form, and the agency could produce a written document containing that information sought from records ordinarily available to the agency, the agency must produce the document (except in very limited circumstances otherwise)."

It was always known that this FOI request required DVA to compile the information requested from the existing records, not merely copy an existing record. However, due to the small number of Code of Conduct complaints made (both internally and externally), and that these complaints are recorded and formally documented, there is only a minimum of work involved to review the discrete records held and compile the information requested. For example, Code of Conduct complaints made by DVA clients should be formally recorded and classified by DVA's VCMS, with links to any investigation carried out. This is in addition to the formal summary reporting of all Code of Conduct matters carried out annually as part of the agency's reporting cycle (records relating to are likely to have a breakdown of the sources of these complaints).

Despite this, in order to ensure the task is carried out with due care, I do not object to an extra 10 days being taken. Given the extra ten days, it would be useful if DVA could also indicate if any of the Code of Conduct complaints relate to privacy related matters (this information would be relevant to the write-up on the abandoned Public Interest Disclosure Certificate piece I'm working on(.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment 170526 FOI 15276 Decision signed.pdf
1.3M Download View as HTML


Dear Verity Pane,

Please see attached the decision and reasons for decision in this matter.

Kind regards,

Alexander Gent
Legal Officer
Information Law
Legal Services & Assurance Branch
Department of Veterans’ Affairs | www.dva.gov.au
ph (02) 6289 6581 | ext 616581 | e [email address]

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Alexander,

Thank you for the information released, it will contribute in a positive way to my project. I would also like to thank you for provided it earlier than the extended deadline, which I know is very unusual for DVA, and therefore appreciated (much better than Frank!).

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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