Joint Inquiry into the facts surrounding the management of Mr Jesse Bird’s case

Verity Pane made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Defence

The request was refused by Department of Defence.

From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Department of Defence FOI Section,

Under FOI I apply for copy of the inquiry documents held by Defence that relate to the
“Joint Inquiry into the facts surrounding the management of Mr Jesse Bird’s case” that Defence undertook at the direction of the former Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan.

Where the documents in scope contain the personal information about a private individual (note personal information, not official information - official information includes details of any public servant carrying out their official duties and does not fall into the scope of personal information - and personal information about an individual is a narrower scope than information that may relate to an individual), that information may be redacted.

I note that this Joint Inquiry had a Ministerial press release http://minister.dva.gov.au/media_release... - where former Veterans’ Affiars Minister Tehan stated:

“One such veteran was Jesse Bird. With the approval of his family, today I will show how Jesse’s case highlights the need for us to continue to improve the current system... Departmental processes failed or simply did not exist to offer services to help Jesse... I asked the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence and the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service to thoroughly examine his case. They have conducted a review which looked at his experience with Defence and Veterans’ Affairs. This occurred in consultation with his family.

I delivered a report on this investigation to Jesse’s family on 15 September. Amongst other findings, the report into the management of Jesse Bird’s case shows that while some aspects of process and management were within expectations, others were contrary to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs policy and practice. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs either did not or could not provide the support or proactive engagement Jesse needed.”

I note that this report also received wide reporting in the media, and it appears an ABC journalist in particular was given access to parts of the Joint Inquiry report beyond just the recommendations(it was also reported parts of a draft report were leaked to the media, before the Bird family had seen it) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-14/je... http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-18/je... http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-20/dv... http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inq... http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion... http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/p...

The fact that the former Veterans’ Affairs Minister saw it appropriate to brief the media and disclose details of the Joint Inquiry report (both formally and informally), to table the recommendations in Parliament. and for a number of media outlets to make multiple new articles about the Joint Inquiry highlights that at both the Department and Ministerial level, disclosure was seen as promoting better informed decision making, and increasing scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of the Government’s activities in relation to matters under review by the Joint Inquiry, and that they were of general public interest or in the interest of a substantial section of the public.

I also note the Minister’s statement regarding that the disclosures made were with the consent of the Bird family.

Yours faithfully,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Good Afternoon Ms Pane,

Thank you for your FOI inquiry, it has been forwarded for consideration/action.

Regards,
Jo

____________________________
Jo Groves
Assistant Director - Information Access
Information Management and Access
Governance & Reform Division
 
Telephone:  (02) 6266 3948
CP1-6-005   [email address

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From: FOI
Department of Defence


Attachment FOI 250 1718 Statement of Reasons.pdf
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Attachment FOI Your Review Rights.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Good afternoon,

Please find attached the Statement of Reasons relating to FOI 250/17/18. 

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.

 

Regards,

 

Freedom of Information

Governance and Reform Division

Department of Defence

CP1-6-008 | PO Box 7910 | Campbell Park  CANBERRA BC  ACT  2610

E-mail   [1][email address]

 

[2]http://www.defence.gov.au/FOI/privacy.asp

 

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.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.defence.gov.au/FOI/privacy.asp
file:///tmp/blocked::http:/www.defence.gov.au/FOI/privacy.asp

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear Melissa Davidson,

I received your unsigned FOI decision refusing release of any document that falls into the scope of the FOI application made.

I seek reconsideration of your decision by another officer not involved with your FOI decision.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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From: FOI
Department of Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Good morning Ms Pane,

Thank you for your below response.

Your request for an Internal Review has been forwarded for processing. A member of the Internal Review team will be in contact with you.

Kind regards

Regards

Freedom of Information Directorate
Governance and Reform Division
Department of Defence
CP1-6-008 | PO Box 7910 | Campbell Park  CANBERRA BC  ACT  2610 E-mail   [email address]

http://www.defence.gov.au/FOI/privacy.asp

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From: FOIReview
Department of Defence

UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Ms Pane

1. I refer to your email below dated 6 February 2018, in which you requested an internal review under section 54 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act), of the decision dated 5 February 2018 by Mrs Melissa Davidson.

2. The decision you received related to your request for access, under the FOI Act, to:

“…Under FOI I apply for copy of the inquiry documents held by Defence that relate to
the “Joint Inquiry into the facts surrounding the management of Mr Jesse Bird’s
case” that Defence undertook at the direction of the former Minister of Veterans’
Affairs, Dan Tehan.

Where the documents in scope contain the personal information about a private
individual (note personal information, not official information - official information
includes details of any public servant carrying out their official duties and does not
fall into the scope of personal information - and personal information about an
individual is a narrower scope than information that may relate to an individual), that
information may be redacted.

I note that this Joint Inquiry had a Ministerial press release
http://minister.dva.gov.au/media_release... - where former
Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tehan stated:

“One such veteran was Jesse Bird. With the approval of his family, today I will show
how Jesse’s case highlights the need for us to continue to improve the current system...
Departmental processes failed or simply did not exist to offer services to help Jesse... I
asked the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence and the Veterans and
Veterans Families Counselling Service to thoroughly examine his case. They have
conducted a review which looked at his experience with Defence and Veterans’
Affairs. This occurred in consultation with his family.

I delivered a report on this investigation to Jesse’s family on 15 September. Amongst
other findings, the report into the management of Jesse Bird’s case shows that while
some aspects of process and management were within expectations, others were
contrary to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs policy and practice. The Department
of Veterans’ Affairs either did not or could not provide the support or proactive
engagement Jesse needed.”

I note that this report also received wide reporting in the media, and it appears an
ABC journalist in particular was given access to parts of the Joint Inquiry report
beyond just the recommendations(it was also reported parts of a draft report were
leaked to the media, before the Bird family had seen it)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-14/je...
9050594 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-18/je...
days-before-his-death/8816978 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-20/dv...
of-contributing-to-afghan-vets-suicide/8722974.'

3. The statutory deadline for you to receive a response from Defence is 9 March 2018, which is 30 days from the date in which your application for internal review was received.

4. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.
Regards

Freedom of Information Review Team
Governance and Reform Division
Department of Defence
CP1-6-008 | PO Box 7910 | Campbell Park CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
Phone: (02) 6266 4434
E-mail [email address]

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From: FOIReview
Department of Defence


Attachment 250 1718 IR SOR.pdf
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Attachment Review Rights.pdf
122K Download View as HTML


UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Ms Pane

1. Thank you for your email dated 6 February 2018, asking for an internal review of the decision you received under the FOI Act.

2. This email is to inform you of the decision by Mr Jarrod Howard, Assistant Secretary Enterprise Reform on your internal review application.

3. Mr Howard has decided to uphold the original decision by denying access to the document under section 47E(d) [public interest conditional exemption- operations of an agency] and 47F [personal privacy] of the FOI Act.

4. The statement of reasons detailing Mr Howard’s decision is attached.

Rights of review

5. The FOI Act provides for rights of review of decisions. Should you be dissatisfied with Mr Howard's decision you have the right to seek review. Please find attached a copy of your review rights

6. If you have any questions in relation to this matter, please contact this office.

Kind regards

Freedom of Information Review Team
Governance and Reform Division
Department of Defence
CP1-6-008 | PO Box 7910 | Campbell Park CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
Phone: (02) 6266 4434
E-mail: [email address]

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From: Verity Pane

Delivered

Dear FOIReview,

Defence continues to show it is a bad faith actor that systemically abuses the aims and objectives of the Freedom of Information Act, and the irony of Defence stating ‘It is important that Defence is able to manage its inquiries with honesty and integrity” while simultaneously being opaque and hostile to FOI is not lost on many.

Yours sincerely,

Verity Pane

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