Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister Reynolds. My question refers to the announcement of 10 new case coordinators for the Department of Veterans' Affairs Coordinated Client Support program. The government has made quite a point of saying the case coordinator roles are about providing at-risk veterans a single point of contact to work with throughout all the complexity of the workings of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. There is definitely value in having one person you can actually trust to work with who helps you throughout your transition into civilian life, but you don't want your single point of contact leaving just because they are on a short-term contract that is not renewed. Will you commit to making sure that none of these case coordinators are external contractors?
I thank Senator Lambie for her question on this announcement and I also thank you, Senator Lambie—through you, Mr President—for your ongoing advocacy and support for so many of our veterans. I thank you for that. In relation to the announcement of the additional case workers, I can confirm that we are doing this. The reason we're doing this is veterans under the age of 30, as you well know, who are in voluntary discharge are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population, which is why we're investing the $4.8 million you referenced, to ensure that young and vulnerable veterans who leave the ADF will be provided a single point of contact with 10 additional case coordinators. The Coordination Client Support program is already helping well over 1,000 veterans. In relation to who will be used, Senator Lambie, I will have to take that on notice and I will endeavour to get back to you straight away.
The average time a veteran stays in the Coordinated Client Support program is about 275 days. What guarantee can you give to veterans who are going to have to deal with more than one case coordinator simply because the government thought that was the cheapest way to do it?
Thank you very much, Senator Lambie. I have to take issue with your last comment. I don't in any way agree with your characterisation and I'll take that specific question on notice as well to get you the right information.
You would think the easiest way to make sure veterans had one single point of contact across their time in the program would be to have their case coordinator to be on staff as a permanent employee. So why have you created this revolving door of bureaucrats on tap by cutting DVA's APS staff by 15 per cent in the last four years?
I again thank Senator Lambie. In relation to that last question, again, I reject the premise of your question but I will also take that on notice. I would also extend—through you, Mr President—the opportunity for a meeting with Minister Chester to discuss your concerns in relation to who those people will be.