Correspondence between Ms Veronica Hancock and Prof Jane Burns re "comprehensive health assessments" for tafenoquine and mefloquine veterans

Stuart McCarthy made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Veterans' Affairs

Department of Veterans' Affairs did not have the information requested.

From: Stuart McCarthy

Delivered

Dear Department of Veterans' Affairs,

Background:

In January 2017, the Minister for Veterans Affairs rejected a proposal to fund a pilot outreach, rehabilitation and research program for Australian veterans adversely affected by the neurotoxic quinoline antimalarial drugs tafenoquine and mefloquine, based on written advice from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) that "existing support services are adequate."[1,2]

On 4 March 2019, Ms Veronica Hancock (DVA Assistant Secretary, Health Policy Branch), wrote to AVM Tracy Smart (ADF Surgeon General):

"Dylan [Kurtz] called from the Minister’s office this afternoon to advise that following discussions with Minister and PMO, Minister is intending to make an early announcement of the mefloquine Budget measure, at the same time as tabling the Government response to the Senate mefloquine inquiry. The Budget measure is a $2.1 million commitment ..."[3]

On 15 March 2019, the Minister announced $2.1 million in funding for "comprehensive health assessments" for the affected veterans, to be implemented from 1 July 2019.[4]

Without any representation from those affected, the health needs of tafenoquine and mefloquine veterans were discussed at the Open Arms (DVA) National Advisory Committee (NAC) meetings of 29-30 November 2018[5] and 28-29 March 2019.[6]

NAC Chair Professor Jane Burns is a senior employee of BUPA-Australia. The DVA contract for the "comprehensive health assessments" was awarded to BUPA-Australia in mid-2019, without tender.

On 2 September 2019, Dr Victoria Ross from the Department of Defence raised serious concerns about the proposed program:

"How does continuity of care factor in? If this assessment is done by a BUPA provider, will they continue on as the veteran’s GP? The primary issue is that these veterans are not engaged with or don’t trust the system. There is a risk that their care may become even more fragmented."[7]

FOI Request:

In accordance with the FOI Act, I hereby request to be provided with correspondence between Ms Veronica Hancock and any directors, executives or employees of BUPA-Australia (including but not limited to Professor Jane Burns) discussing the health of veterans affected by tafenoquine or mefloquine, from 1 July 2018 to 1 July 2019, including but not limited to: letters, emails, memos, briefings, text messages, file notes, records of conversation and/or financial acquittals for travel or other expenses.

I request that the standard processing fees for rhis FOI request be waived, on the grounds that I am experiencing financial hardship and this is a matter of significant public interest.

Yours faithfully,

Stuart McCarthy

References:

1. Rachel Riley, "Pilot outreach program rejected," Townsville Bulletin, 10 February 2017. https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/ne...

2. Department of Veterans Affairs, Ministerial Response - McCarthy, Stuart - Quinoline Trial, 20 January 2017.

3. Email from Ms Veronica Hancock to AVM Tracy Smart, "MO advice re mefloquine announcement and govt response," 4 March 2019. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/6...

4. Minister for Veterans Affairs, Media release: Government commits $2.1 million to anti-malarial initiative, 15 March 2019. http://minister.dva.gov.au/media_release...

5. Open Arms, Minutes: National Advisory Committee meeting, 29-30 November 2018. https://nginx-openarms-master.govcms.ama...

6. Open Arms, Minutes: National Advisory Committee meeting, 28-29 March 2019. https://nginx-openarms-master.govcms.ama...

7. Email from Dr Victoria Ross to Dr Cath Kelaher et al, "Prep for DVA co-design workshop," 2 September 2019. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/6...

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Dear Mr McCarthy

 

Freedom of Information Request: FOI 34928

 

I refer to your request for access to documents held by the Department of
Veterans’ Affairs (Department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(FOI Act). Your request was received by the Department on 14 March 2020
and was made in the following terms:

 

…In accordance with the FOI Act, I hereby request to be provided with
correspondence between Ms Veronica Hancock and any directors, executives
or employees of BUPA-Australia (including but not limited to Professor
Jane Burns) discussing the health of veterans affected by tafenoquine or
mefloquine, from 1 July 2018 to 1 July 2019, including but not limited to:
letters, emails, memos, briefings, text messages, file notes, records of
conversation and/or financial acquittals for travel or other expenses…

 

In accordance with section 15(5)(b) of the FOI Act, the due date for a
decision on your request is 13 April 2020.

 

When the processing period may be extended or suspended

 

The current due date may be extended by up to 30 days if agreed by you
(section 15AA of the FOI Act). Also, the due date may be extended by an
additional 30 days in each instance, if your request is considered
voluminous or complex (section 15AB of the FOI Act) or if the Department
is required to undertake a third party consultation (sections 26A, 27 or
27A of the FOI Act). If any of these extensions apply, the Department will
notify you.

 

Additionally, there are occasions where the time to process your request
may be suspended. This will usually take place if a practical refusal
consultation process takes place (section 24AB of the FOI Act) or if a
charges notice is issued to process your request (section 29 of the FOI
Act). If the Department decides that either of these apply to your
request, the Department will notify you.

 

We will write again when the Department has more information. Further
information on FOI processing can be found at the website of the Office of
the Australian Information Commissioner at [1]https://www.oaic.gov.au/.

 

Publication of documents

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be
published online on our disclosure log at
[2]https://www.dva.gov.au/about-us/overview...
subject to certain exceptions, such as if the documents relate to your own
personal information. The Department will advise you in its decision
whether details of your request will be published on the disclosure log or
not.

Contacting us about your request

 

We will contact you using the email address you have provided. Please
advise if you would prefer us to use an alternative means of contact.

 

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

 

Post: Information Law Section, Legal Services & Audit Branch

GPO Box 9998 CANBERRA ACT 2601

Facsimile: (02) 6289 6337

Email: [3][email address]

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Molly (Position Number 62213164)

Legal Officer

Information Law Section

Legal Services and Audit Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

T: 1800 555 254 | E: [4][email address] | W: [5]www.dva.gov.au

 

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P Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

 

 

 

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Attachment FOI 34928 FOI decision final 09.04.2020.pdf
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Dear Mr McCarthy

 

Please see attached decision in relation to your FOI request.

 

Kind regards

 

Molly Campbell

Legal Officer

Information Law Section

Legal Services and Audit Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

T: 02 62896125 | E: [1][email address] | W: [2]www.dva.gov.au

 

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Sent: Monday, 16 March 2020 1:57 PM
To: '[FOI #6234 email]'
<[FOI #6234 email]>
Cc: INFORMATION.LAW <[email address]>
Subject: Your Freedom of Information Request - FOI 34928 [SEC=OFFICIAL]

 

Dear Mr McCarthy

 

Freedom of Information Request: FOI 34928

 

I refer to your request for access to documents held by the Department of
Veterans’ Affairs (Department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(FOI Act). Your request was received by the Department on 14 March 2020
and was made in the following terms:

 

…In accordance with the FOI Act, I hereby request to be provided with
correspondence between Ms Veronica Hancock and any directors, executives
or employees of BUPA-Australia (including but not limited to Professor
Jane Burns) discussing the health of veterans affected by tafenoquine or
mefloquine, from 1 July 2018 to 1 July 2019, including but not limited to:
letters, emails, memos, briefings, text messages, file notes, records of
conversation and/or financial acquittals for travel or other expenses…

 

In accordance with section 15(5)(b) of the FOI Act, the due date for a
decision on your request is 13 April 2020.

 

When the processing period may be extended or suspended

 

The current due date may be extended by up to 30 days if agreed by you
(section 15AA of the FOI Act). Also, the due date may be extended by an
additional 30 days in each instance, if your request is considered
voluminous or complex (section 15AB of the FOI Act) or if the Department
is required to undertake a third party consultation (sections 26A, 27 or
27A of the FOI Act). If any of these extensions apply, the Department will
notify you.

 

Additionally, there are occasions where the time to process your request
may be suspended. This will usually take place if a practical refusal
consultation process takes place (section 24AB of the FOI Act) or if a
charges notice is issued to process your request (section 29 of the FOI
Act). If the Department decides that either of these apply to your
request, the Department will notify you.

 

We will write again when the Department has more information. Further
information on FOI processing can be found at the website of the Office of
the Australian Information Commissioner at [4]https://www.oaic.gov.au/.

 

Publication of documents

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be
published online on our disclosure log at
[5]https://www.dva.gov.au/about-us/overview...
subject to certain exceptions, such as if the documents relate to your own
personal information. The Department will advise you in its decision
whether details of your request will be published on the disclosure log or
not.

Contacting us about your request

 

We will contact you using the email address you have provided. Please
advise if you would prefer us to use an alternative means of contact.

 

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

 

Post: Information Law Section, Legal Services & Audit Branch

GPO Box 9998 CANBERRA ACT 2601

Facsimile: (02) 6289 6337

Email: [6][email address]

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Molly (Position Number 62213164)

Legal Officer

Information Law Section

Legal Services and Audit Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

T: 1800 555 254 | E: [7][email address] | W: [8]www.dva.gov.au

 

[9]cid:image001.png@01D5C62C.B098EB10

P Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

 

 

 

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From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs

INFORMATION.LAW would like to recall the message, "Your Freedom of Information Request - FOI 34928 [SEC=OFFICIAL]".

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Attachment image001.png
15K Download

Attachment FOI 34928 FOI decision final 09.04.2020.pdf
549K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr McCarthy

 

Please see attached decision in relation to your FOI request.

 

Kind regards

 

Molly (Position Number 62213164)

Legal Officer

Information Law Section

Legal Services and Audit Branch

[1]cid:image001.png@01D5C62C.B098EB10

P Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

From: INFORMATION.LAW
Sent: Monday, 16 March 2020 1:57 PM
To: '[FOI #6234 email]'
<[2][FOI #6234 email]>
Cc: INFORMATION.LAW <[3][email address]>
Subject: Your Freedom of Information Request - FOI 34928 [SEC=OFFICIAL]

 

Dear Mr McCarthy

 

Freedom of Information Request: FOI 34928

 

I refer to your request for access to documents held by the Department of
Veterans’ Affairs (Department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982
(FOI Act). Your request was received by the Department on 14 March 2020
and was made in the following terms:

 

…In accordance with the FOI Act, I hereby request to be provided with
correspondence between Ms Veronica Hancock and any directors, executives
or employees of BUPA-Australia (including but not limited to Professor
Jane Burns) discussing the health of veterans affected by tafenoquine or
mefloquine, from 1 July 2018 to 1 July 2019, including but not limited to:
letters, emails, memos, briefings, text messages, file notes, records of
conversation and/or financial acquittals for travel or other expenses…

 

In accordance with section 15(5)(b) of the FOI Act, the due date for a
decision on your request is 13 April 2020.

 

When the processing period may be extended or suspended

 

The current due date may be extended by up to 30 days if agreed by you
(section 15AA of the FOI Act). Also, the due date may be extended by an
additional 30 days in each instance, if your request is considered
voluminous or complex (section 15AB of the FOI Act) or if the Department
is required to undertake a third party consultation (sections 26A, 27 or
27A of the FOI Act). If any of these extensions apply, the Department will
notify you.

 

Additionally, there are occasions where the time to process your request
may be suspended. This will usually take place if a practical refusal
consultation process takes place (section 24AB of the FOI Act) or if a
charges notice is issued to process your request (section 29 of the FOI
Act). If the Department decides that either of these apply to your
request, the Department will notify you.

 

We will write again when the Department has more information. Further
information on FOI processing can be found at the website of the Office of
the Australian Information Commissioner at [4]https://www.oaic.gov.au/.

 

Publication of documents

Please note that information released under the FOI Act may later be
published online on our disclosure log at
[5]https://www.dva.gov.au/about-us/overview...
subject to certain exceptions, such as if the documents relate to your own
personal information. The Department will advise you in its decision
whether details of your request will be published on the disclosure log or
not.

Contacting us about your request

 

We will contact you using the email address you have provided. Please
advise if you would prefer us to use an alternative means of contact.

 

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

 

Post: Information Law Section, Legal Services & Audit Branch

GPO Box 9998 CANBERRA ACT 2601

Facsimile: (02) 6289 6337

Email: [6][email address]

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Molly (Position Number 62213164)

Legal Officer

Information Law Section

Legal Services and Audit Branch

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

T: 1800 555 254 | E: [7][email address] | W: [8]www.dva.gov.au

 

[9]cid:image001.png@01D5C62C.B098EB10

P Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

 

 

 

 

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