From: DVA
Sent: Mon 14/04/2014 1:36 PM

NEW APPROACH TO DVA SERVICES IN REGIONAL NEW SOUTH WALES AND VICTORIA

From June 2014, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) will make changes to shopfront services in nine regional areas in Victoria and NSW to ensure veterans living in those communities can continue to access face-to-face support at a location close to their home.

“In March 2014, DVA consulted with veterans, war widows and widowers, their families and staff to learn more about how the veteran community wants to access services in the future,” Senator Ronaldson said.

“The consultation, undertaken by DVA, investigated the most effective and sustainable way to provide services to veterans, war widows and widowers, and their families living in these nine regions. Consultation was focussed on Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Bendigo, Frankston, Mildura, Morwell and Warrnambool in Victoria, and Gosford and Wollongong in New South Wales.

“I would like to thank everyone who provided input during the consultation. In reporting back to me, DVA has recognised that face-to-face contact remains important. It was also clear from the consultation that more and more clients are choosing to use the telephone or internet to contact DVA and visits to shopfronts have declined by 28 per cent since 2009.

“In looking at the best model for the delivery of services in these areas the Department noted some common themes through the consultation process. Some of these included an appreciation of the Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) offices and staff, in many cases a preference for contact by telephone and the internet, and an overall concern that DVA maintain key services in those regions."

In response to the feedback received during consultation the new arrangements will involve:

• Morwell VAN office will be co-located into DHS Morwell
• Ballarat VAN office will be co-located into DHS Ballarat
• Frankston, Gosford, Bairnsdale and Wollongong VAN offices will close. Veteran information services will be provided by DHS service centres sites in Frankston, Wyong, Nowra and Morwell
• Bendigo, Mildura and Warrnambool agency contracts to cease and DHS service centre arrangements will be put in place in those locations.

In Ballarat and Morwell a DVA staff member will continue to provide the same services as they do now, but co-located with DHS offices. In other locations trained DHS staff will provide information services, with specialist training and support from DVA staff.

In addition to the new shopfront services, outreach services will continue to be delivered in each of these regions. This will include DVA staff visiting on scheduled dates to meet with clients who require additional assistance. These visits will be advertised to the local veteran community and held in an appropriate meeting space.

Outreach will also include community-based activities such as grant workshops, Day Club visits, Men’s Health Peer Education and presentations on DVA services and entitlements.

No VAN offices will close until the new arrangements are in place. Once in place, veterans in the affected areas will be notified in writing about the new service arrangements.

“Similar veteran information services already operate in 17 locations across Australia, including in areas like Port Macquarie, Dubbo, Tamworth, and Hervey Bay, where a large number of veterans and their families reside.”

“Once the new arrangements are in place, veterans will be able to get assistance from trained staff based at the DHS shopfront every day during standard opening hours. These shopfronts will have DVA specific signage,” Senator Ronaldson explained.

“The Government is committed to a stand-alone Department of Veterans' Affairs. These changes will ensure that DVA can continue to offer services to veterans and their families for the long-term.”

Media inquiries: Minister Ronaldson: Brad Rowswell 02 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546)