Documents regarding a "Comprehensive Health Assessment" Program for Veterans Adversely Affected by the Antimalarial Drugs Tafenoquine and Mefloquine

Stuart McCarthy made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Defence

The request was successful.

From: Stuart McCarthy

Delivered

Dear Department of Defence,

On 22 July 2019, the Canberra Times reported (according to an anonymous spokeswoman):

"... the federal government has committed $2.1 million to a new initiative to support veterans who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial drugs mefloquine or tafenoquine."

"This initiative will deliver a national program that will provide concerned veterans with the option to receive a comprehensive health assessment with a general practitioner to identify service-related illness, disease and injury."[1]

The same story quoted Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Liz Cosson, who stated that the initiative was being developed in response to affected veterans who were "aggrieved" by medical mistreatment.[1]

In accordance with the FOI Act, I hereby request to be provided with documents relating to the genesis and development of this initiative, from 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2019, including internal Defence documents and correspondence between the Department and the Office of the Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans Affairs during that period. I request to be provided with documents including, but not limited to: letters, emails, briefings, file notes and text messages between senior Defence officials and staff from the Minister's office.

I request that normal fees be waived for this FOI request given that this is already a matter of public interest, and I am experiencing financial hardship.

Yours faithfully,

Stuart McCarthy

Reference:

1. Katie Burgess, "Soldiers scarred by antimalarial drugs to receive health check," Canberra Times, 22 July 2019. https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6...

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From: FOI
Department of Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon

Thank you for contacting Freedom of Information at the Department of Defence.

We have received your email and you will be advised of the status of your inquiry by a FOI team member who will be in touch with you.

Kind regards

Matt Ashauer
FOI Inquiries
Freedom of Information
Governance and Reform 
Department of Defence
CP1-06-003
PO Box 7910 Canberra ACT 2610
(02) 6266 3685
 
IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email.

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence. Unauthorised communication and dealing with the information in the email may be a serious criminal offence. If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email immediately.

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From: Stuart McCarthy

Delivered

Dear Mr Ashauer,

Thankyou for acknowledging receipt of my FOI request.

On or around 14 June 2019, the Open Arms National Advisory Committee (NAC) held a meeting which was attended by Brigadier Leonard Brennan.[1] Brigadier Brennan was the 3rd Brigade Senior Medical Officer during the period of the Army Malaria Institute (AMI) tafenoquine and mefloquine clinical trials in Bougainville and East Timor from 1999 to 2001 and co-authored the AMI tafenoquine-mefloquine study involving 654 personnel from the 1 RAR Battalion Group in East Timor 2000-2001.[2]

Noting Brigadier Brennan's attendance at the NAC meeting, as part of this FOI request I specifically request to be provided with:

1) Correspondence between Brigadier Brennan and members of the NAC regarding the adverse effects of tafenoquine and mefloquine, and the health needs of affected veterans, including emails, memos or text messages.

2) Correspondence between Brigadier Brennan and any other Commonwealth officials regarding the NAC meeting, including emails, memos or text messages.

3) Correspondence between Brigadier Brennan and any other Commonwealth officials regarding the genesis or development of the "comprehensive health assessments" initiative, including emails, memos or text messages.

Noting that a contract for the "comprehensive health assessments" has recently been awarded to BUPA, I specifically request to be provided with:correspondence between Jane Burns and employees or directors of BUPA (including Jane Burns) relating to the genesis or development of the comprehensive health assessments initiative, including emails, memos or text messages.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart McCarthy

References:

1. Jane Burns tweet, 14 June 2019. https://twitter.com/janeburns/status/113...

2. Nasveld et al., "Randomized, double-blind study of the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of tafenoquine versus mefloquine for malaria prophylaxis in nonimmune subjects," Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19...

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From: FOI
Department of Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Thanks Stuart,

As processing has already commenced on your original scope we are unable to revise it at this stage.

Noting the below, on completion of this request you may submit another request if you believe further documents exist relating to this subject.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Matt Ashauer
FOI Inquiries
Freedom of Information
Governance and Reform 
Department of Defence
CP1-06-003
PO Box 7910 Canberra ACT 2610
(02) 6266 3685
 
IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914. If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email.

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence. Unauthorised communication and dealing with the information in the email may be a serious criminal offence. If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email immediately.

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From: FOI
Department of Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Good morning Mr McCarthy

 

I refer to your correspondence, dated 10 January 2020, in which you sought
access, under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), to:

 

“documents relating to the genesis and development of this initiative,
from 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2019, including internal Defence documents
and correspondence between the Department and the Office of the Minister
for Defence Personnel and Veterans Affairs during that period. I request
to be provided with documents including, but not limited to: letters,
emails, briefings, file notes and text messages between senior Defence
officials and staff from the Minister's office”

Background to request

 

On 22 July 2019, the Canberra Times reported (according to an anonymous
spokeswoman):

"... the federal government has committed $2.1 million to a new initiative
to support veterans who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial
drugs mefloquine or tafenoquine."
"This initiative will deliver a national program that will provide
concerned veterans with the option to receive a comprehensive health
assessment with a general practitioner to identify service-related
illness, disease and injury."

The same story quoted Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Liz Cosson,
who stated that the initiative was being developed in response to affected
veterans who were "aggrieved" by medical mistreatment.

The Department of Defence excludes private email addresses, signatures,
personnel (PMKeyS) numbers and mobile telephone numbers contained in
documents that fall within the scope of a FOI request unless you
specifically request such details. Defence also excludes duplicates of
documents. Furthermore, Defence only considers final versions of
documents.

 

If you do require these personal details, please inform us within five
days of receipt of this email so that the decision maker can consider your
request.

 

Defence may impose a charge for the work involved in providing access to
the documents in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Charges)
Regulations. If your request for access to documents attracts a charge,
you will be notified in writing. Note: There is no charge for documents
that contain the personal information of the applicant.

 

The statutory deadline for you to receive a response to your request
currently expires on 9 February 2020.

 

I note that the above mentioned due date is a Sunday or public holiday. In
accordance with the FOI Guidelines issued by the Australian Information
Commissioner, if the last day for notifying a decision falls on a
Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday, the timeframe will expire on the
first day following which is none of those days.  As such, the due date
for you to receive a response is 10 February 2020.  

 

Should you have any questions relating to your request, please do not
hesitate to contact our office via email to [1][email address].

 

Kind regards,

 

Case Management

 

Freedom of Information

Information Management and Access

Governance and Reform Division

 

Department of Defence

PO Box 7910 Canberra ACT 2610

 

 

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence.
Unauthorised communication and dealing with the information in the email
may be a serious criminal offence. If you have received this email in
error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email
immediately.

 

 

References

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From: Stuart McCarthy

Delivered

Dear FOI,

Thankyou for your reply.

I request to be provided with the personal details of Department of Defence or other Commonwealth officials contained in the requested documents.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart McCarthy

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From: FOI
Department of Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon

1.                   I refer to your correspondence dated, 10 January
2020, in which you sought access, under the Freedom of Information Act
1982 (FOI Act), to:

“In accordance with the FOI Act, I hereby request to be provided with
documents relating to the genesis and development of this initiative, from
1 July 2018 to 31 December 2019, including internal Defence documents and
correspondence between the Department and the Office of the Minister for
Defence Personnel and Veterans Affairs during that period. I request to be
provided with documents including, but not limited to: letters, emails,
briefings, file notes and text messages between senior Defence officials
and staff from the Minister's office.”

2.                   In our letter dated 22 January 2020 you were advised
that the statutory deadline for a response to this request was 9 February
2020. 

3.                   Your request was forwarded to Joint Capabilities
Group for consideration. The Accredited Decision Maker Mr Paul Naveau has
advised that your request covers documents which contain information of a
commercial nature of a number of third parties.

4.                   Mr Naveau has determined that there is requirement
to consult the third parties under section 27 of the FOI Act, before
making a decision on the release of the documents. 

5.                   Subsection 15(6) of the FOI Act provides for an
extension of 30 days to the statutory time limit for processing requests. 
Therefore, the deadline for providing you with the decision on your
request is now 10 March 2020.

6.                   I would be grateful if you could confirm if the FOI
Directorate could disclose your identity as the applicant to the third
parties for the purpose of consultation. While you are under no obligation
to reveal your identity as the applicant and we will not disclose your
identity without consent, in our experience, third parties will generally
be more likely to object to the release of their information if they do
not know who the applicant is.

7.                   Should you have any questions relating to your
request, please do not hesitate to contact our office via telephone on
(02) 6266 2200 or via email to [1][email address].

Yours sincerely,

 

Matt Ashauer

FOI Inquiries

Freedom of Information

Governance and Reform 

Department of Defence

CP1-06-003

PO Box 7910 Canberra ACT 2610

(02) 6266 3685

 

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence
and is subject to the jurisdiction of section 70 of the Crimes Act 1914.
If you have received this email in error, you are requested to contact the
sender and delete the email.

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence.
Unauthorised communication and dealing with the information in the email
may be a serious criminal offence. If you have received this email in
error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email
immediately.

 

 

References

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From: Hanna, Nicole MS
Department of Defence


Attachment C FS Applicant review rights.pdf
203K Download View as HTML

Attachment Defence FOI 345 1920 Statement of Reasons.pdf
468K Download View as HTML

Attachment Defence FOI 345 1920 Schedule of documents.pdf
73K Download View as HTML

Attachment Defence FOI 345 1920 Documents approved for release.pdf
2.9M Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED

Good morning Mr McCarthy

Please find attached the Statement of Reasons and documents relating to
FOI 345//19/20.  A schedule of documents is also attached.

FOI Disclosure Log

In accordance with the requirements of section 11C of the FOI Act, Defence
is required to publish details of information released under the FOI Act.
Defence publishes identified documents relating to requests within five
working days of receipt by the applicant or immediately following any
publication of the released material. Defence will also publish the
statement of reasons with privacy deletions.  This request will be
published on 18 March 2020 or immediately following publication.

Rights of Review

Under the provisions of section 54 of the FOI Act, you are entitled to
request a review of this decision. Your review rights are attached.  

Should you have any questions in regard to this matter please contact this
office.

 

Kind regards,

 

Case Management

 

Freedom of Information

Information Management and Access

Governance and Reform Division

 

Department of Defence

PO Box 7910 Canberra ACT 2610

email: [email address]

IMPORTANT: This email remains the property of the Department of Defence.
Unauthorised communication and dealing with the information in the email
may be a serious criminal offence. If you have received this email in
error, you are requested to contact the sender and delete the email
immediately.

 

 

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