Overall satisfaction with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is down 10% since 1998 – which, by most statistical analysis is a significant downward trend – except for Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester who heralds the result as positive news.
“Modernisation of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ processes, systems and technology aimed at putting the needs of the veterans and their families first is continuing to deliver results with overall satisfaction of the DVA’s services remaining above 80 per cent,” Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said.
Yet according to the official report on the survey, the “above 80 per cent” cited by the minister as being the result of all this modernisation of systems and technology, actually “shows a longer-term decline over the past two decades“, according to the official survey report.
In fact, the 81% satisfied in this year’s survey is down 2% on 2016, down 8% on 2014 and down 10% since 1998.
“The 2018 Client Satisfaction Survey of more than 3000 randomly selected DVA clients, including veterans, war widows/ers, carers and dependants, found an overall satisfaction rating of 81 per cent for DVA services,” Mr Chester said.
“The survey results illustrate DVA’s transformation program continues to show positive results for veterans and their families, but that there is still much more to do.”
Cherry-picking some actual positives, Mr Chester said “satisfaction for DVA clients aged 45 years-and-under is up from 49 per cent in 2016 to 56 per cent in 2018 [but didn’t mention that it had failed to catch up to the 2014 figure of 63%], and dissatisfaction of this group has more than halved from 31 per cent to 15 per cent for the same period,” Mr Chester said
“It also showed for clients aged 45 to 64 years, satisfaction has improved from 69 per cent to 72 per cent from 2016 to 2018 [again omitting that 2014’s figure was 79%].
“Change takes time and there may be small disruptions to services for clients, however, tracking the ongoing satisfaction of DVA’s clients through the survey is one important way to gauge the outcomes and benefits of system improvements.”
Which all sounds very positive. But the above graph, clearly shows a downwards trend.
Minister Chester said the DVA transformation program had an ongoing commitment and investment from government, including more than $166 million in 2017–18 and more than $111.9 million in 2018–19.
“Recently, DVA completed the Improved Processing System (IPS) project, which was a two-year $23.9 million project improving the claims processing services and putting needs of veterans and their families first.
“As a result, veterans have seen significant improvements in the median time taken to process permanent impairment claims under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).
“The IPS project incorporated improvements as part of DVA’s ongoing transformation and now around 85 per cent of DVA rehabilitation and compensation claims are processed in one system and in reduced timeframes,” Mr Chester said.
“The target processing time for permanent impairment claims under the MRCA and DRCA is 100 days. I am pleased to report that processing times have dropped from a median of 152 and 137 days in the 2016–17 financial year to 78 and 71 days respectively for the last financial year.
“This program of work, in-line with DVA’s overall transformation program, has contributed significantly to the government’s goals to improve the quality of service to veterans and their families by reducing claim processing times.
“These results reinforce key government budget initiatives to support DVA’s ongoing transformation, including: support for the Veteran Payment, Provisional Access to Medical Treatment, Streamlined Incapacity, Enhanced Family Support and the extension of non-liability health care for all mental health conditions and be available to eligible reservists who may not have had permanent ADF service.
“DVA, through its transformation program, will make sure veterans and their families will benefit from simplified access to services and support,” Mr Chester said.
Unfortunately for the minister and despite his enthusiasm and the expense of the DVA transformation program, all key measure continue to decline…
Overall impressions of DVA
Full results from the 2018 survey are available here.
NOTE: Media reports around the 2016 DVA client survey suggest the survey cost in the region of $175,000 to conduct – that’s about $58 per person surveyed.
By comparison, CONTACT’s latest #printCONTACTagain survey cost $0 – i.e. $0 per person surveyed 😉