We recently became aware that a number of war widows from the Afghanistan conflict had been advised by some NSW Government Departments that their gold card had been revoked by DVA and they were no longer eligible for NSW gold card concessions.
We sought assistance from the Deputy Commissioner, NSW & ACT, Victoria Benz, and we are thankful for Victoria’s response:
Firstly, I’d like to extend my apologies to xxxxxx for the distress this situation is causing. While this is a known issue affecting some veterans and war widows, we are mindful that it can cause distress and anxiety and are working to resolve this.
In short, the issue relates to automatic verification with NSW Government departments and Sydney Water that unfortunately means that contemporary War Widows are not identified as eligible Gold Card holders. This results in those organisations seeking repeat confirmation from war widows that they are Gold Card holders.
I would like to assure that DVA has not “withdrawn” their concession status, and it is regrettable that is the language used in letters sent to war widows by the NSW Government. We have provided feedback to that effect so that an update to the letters can be made.
While [lasting solutions] are being explored, [we should advise all contemporary war widows]:
Sydney Water is keeping a manual register of DVA NSW rebate eligible clients who cannot be electronically validated. Contemporary War Widows are able to call Sydney Water on 13 20 92 to check if their names are already on the register and if not, they will need to email a copy of their Gold Card to email@example.com. This should mean they cease receiving letters requesting them to confirm their eligibility.
In the meantime, DVA is able to assist by providing War Widows with a letter specifying ‘Gold Card War Widow’ for the purposes of providing such evidence to the NSW Government. Again, while this is not ideal, this will provide a means for them to present necessary evidence to access the concessions to which they are entitled. DVA is working on changes to the MyService portal so that such letters will be available to download, though unfortunately a timeframe for that solution is not yet available. Pending that, war widows are able to contact DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 872) to request such a letter.
I’ve been advised by the NSW Government that a project to improve the process for Gold Card holders accessing concessions is underway. This involves Service NSW as the lead agency that NSW residents access many services and concessions. I will invite Service NSW to the next Deputy Commissioner consultation forum to provide an update on this issue, including progress on the project underway.
We will keep an eye on this because it is causing distress to those who have already had to endure too much.
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