Correspondence between Open Arms NAC members and BUPA Australia regarding tafenoquine and mefloquine veterans

Stuart McCarthy made this Freedom of Information request to Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service

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From: Stuart McCarthy

Delivered

Dear Open Arms,

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 15 March 2019, the Minister announced $2.1 million in funding for "comprehensive health assessments" for those affected, to be implemented from 1 July 2019.[3]

The Open Arms National Advisory Committee (NAC) is a Commonwealth agency, administered and funded by DVA. The role of the NAC is to "provide independent and distinctive advice to the Minister on the needs of the veteran community."[4]

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

NAC Chair Jane Burns is an employee of BUPA Australia. The DVA contract for the "comprehensive health assessments" was recently awarded to BUPA Australia.

FOI Request:

In accordance with the FOI Act, I hereby request to be provided with correspondence between members of the Open Arms NAC (including, but not limited to, Jane Burns and Stephanie Hodson) and directors, executives or employees of BUPA Australia discussing the health of veterans affected by tafenoquine or mefloquine, from 1 July 2018 to 24 January 2020, including but not limited to:

1) Letters, emails, memos, briefings, text messages or file notes.

2) Correspondence from members of the NAC to BUPA Australia directors, executives or other employees.

3) Correspondence from BUPA Australia directors, executives or other employees to members of the NAC.

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. 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...

4. Open Arms, Governance: Open Arms National Advisory Committee, accessed 28 January 2020. https://www.openarms.gov.au/about/govern...

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...

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From: Stuart McCarthy <[FOI #6105 email]>
To: FOI requests at Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service
<[Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service request email]>
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Subject: Freedom of Information request - Correspondence between Open Arms NAC
members and BUPA Australia regarding tafenoquine and mefloquine veterans
[TO BE CLASSIFIED]
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