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

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

Response to this request is delayed. By law, Department of Veterans' Affairs should normally have responded promptly and by (details)

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 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 Professor 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, Professor Jane Burns and Dr 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: INFORMATION.LAW
Department of Veterans' Affairs


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Dear Mr McCarthy
 
Freedom of Information Request: FOI 34037
 
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 4 February 2020
and was made in the following terms:
 
 
'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, Professor Jane Burns and Dr 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.'
 
In accordance with section 15(5)(b) of the FOI Act, the due date for a
decision on your request is 5 March 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-dva/freedom...
subject to certain exceptions, such as if the documents relate to your own
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not.
Contacting us about your request
 
We will contact you using the email address you have provided. Please
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If you have any questions, please contact me using the following details:
 
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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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