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Veteran Centric Reform—Putting veterans and their families first

Infographic summarising key facts about Transformation work in 2018–19; 14,994 welcome emails were sent to newly enlisted ADF members. 19,907 current or former ADF members registered with DVA through the Early Engagement Model. 80,473 veterans and their families registered for MyService, and nearly 53,104 claims were lodged. 19,907 current or former ADF members registered with DVA through the Early Engagement Model. 2 mobile service centres travelled to 410 locations across Australia. The equivalent of 8.6 kilometres of veteran records were digitised by 30 June 2019.

Achievements in 2018–19

Improved service delivery

Online services

MyService is DVA’s online service portal. Using MyService, veterans and their families are now able to lodge their claims online and, in some circumstances, receive an almost immediate decision on a claim. MyService also enables veterans to go online to apply for free mental health care, update their details and view digital versions of their Veteran Card with a list of accepted conditions.

Streamlined (‘straight-through’) processing is also available for 40 of the most commonly claimed conditions, with eight conditions able to be instantly approved through computer-based decision-making. Straight-through processing uses a veteran’s profile and details of service as evidence that a relevant Statement of Principles factor for a diagnosed condition is met, enabling the claim to be accepted without the need for further investigation.

In 2018–19 DVA expanded MyService functionality. For example, veterans can now go online to lodge a request for a call-back and submit documents after an initial liability claim.

MyService is now accessed through myGov. New proof of identity document options have been added so that veterans have a better success rate in registering for MyService online.

Also, MyService has introduced better tailoring of the claim types to veterans so that they can see the benefits and services they may be eligible for.

Telephone services

In 2018–19 DVA continued to prepare for the introduction of 1800 VETERAN—a call service that will make it easier for veterans and their families to speak to the right person at their first point of contact with DVA. We have removed unnecessary telephone numbers and call queues, reducing the complexity of DVA’s telephony system.

We have also introduced a new ‘open speech’ voice recognition service. The new service allows callers to ‘Tell DVA’ why they are calling and the system automatically directs their call as required. New technology will continue to be introduced to support the improvement of DVA’s telephony system.

Face-to-face services

In early 2018 we commenced trials of enhanced face-to-face services in partnership with Services Australia (previously the Department of Human Services (DHS)). The partnership gives veterans access to DVA information through 24 DHS agents and DHS Mobile Service Centres. In 19 of the agency locations, to promote self-service options like MyService and myGov, staff are available to assist veterans in accessing digital services. Between July 2018 and 30 June 2019, 111 clients accessed the agent service.

The Mobile Service Centres are equipped with the same technology as any Centrelink or Medicare service centre, including self-service facilities. Overall, the popularity of the DVA service has notably increased in the second year of the partnership. The Mobile Service Centres have now serviced a total of 159 veterans and visited 410 locations in rural and regional Australia. These pilots have been extended to 30 June 2020.

In 2017–18 DVA conducted an Australia Post trial under which clients were offered DVA information through Australia Post self-service kiosks. The trial concluded in September 2018. However, we have established several other pilots to increase veterans’ access to information about DVA services. For example, we have established partnerships at the Australian War Memorial, the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance and 23 military museums across Australia—these locations now offer visitors brochures and contact cards for DVA and our veteran counselling service, Open Arms—Veterans & Families Counselling (Open Arms).

Improvements to technology

Enhancements to ICT

In 2018–19 we implemented additional enhancements to our new processing platform to improve the processes for client registration and education payments for veterans’ children.

We have designed and delivered new capabilities for DVA client contact and management areas.

We have also introduced a new staff-facing Virtual Assistant tool to allow staff to navigate the new ICT processing platform in an efficient way. This will minimise delays when staff are engaging with veterans and their families.

Other ICT enhancements during the year included enhanced operational and management reporting, including real-time reporting.

In 2019–20, we will extend the new ICT capabilities to further income support clients. This will include a new digital platform for claims relating to the Service Pension, Income Support Supplement for Australian war widows and widowers, other supplements and allowances, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, and reviews of income support benefits.

Modernised desktop

During 2018–19 a co-located multidisciplinary team of Services Australia and DVA staff worked to prepare for an upgrade to DVA’s ageing desktop computer capability and move towards a greater adoption of the shared-service model in technology. The team worked to ensure DVA's business readiness to adopt the new hardware and software environments. Over half of DVA’s staff have migrated to the new platform, with the plan to complete DVA’s migration to Windows 10 early in the 2019–20 financial year.

Human resources system

The Services Australia payroll and human resources system was implemented in June 2018. In 2018–19 DVA was able to leverage this to take advantage of a number of government initiatives, including a single on-boarding process across Services Australia, DVA and the National Disability Insurance Agency; and a single-touch payroll solution for reporting payroll information to the Australian Taxation Office.

During 2018–19 the agencies also worked together to archive data and decommission DVA’s aged human resources solution. DVA’s human resource management system data was successfully archived and a reporting solution implemented for access to the archived data.

Improving services using data and analytics

DVA is using data and analytics to gain insights so that we can deliver more effective, evidence-based policies and services which will continue to shape DVA in 2019-20.

In 2018–19 we developed predictive models and tools to provide a forecasting capability that models the future financial impacts of policy decisions. For example, the Priority Investment Approach—Veterans (PIA-V) model is an artificial intelligence (AI) powered actuarial model that simulates the lifetime financial trajectory of clients. The model outputs include annual fiscal expenditure of each DVA client and their average years on benefits—this can be used for costings, budget estimates, client segmentation and policy evaluation. The PIA-V model will inform service design and performance. DVA will continue to review the model and implement improvements.

We also developed a Data Literacy Strategy to improve data literacy across DVA with a focus on people processes, data roles, capabilities and culture. The upskilling will empower DVA staff to use data and tools to support veterans with the right services. Data governance is being strengthened to ensure data is treated as a valuable asset and is appropriately controlled, protected and maintained throughout its life cycle.

Digitisation of veteran records

By the end of 2018–19 the Continuing Digitisation project had digitised nearly 300,000 veteran files, or over 8.6 kilometres of veteran records. The project has given staff the ability to concurrently access veteran files when processing claims, and this has led to reduced times for processing and a significant reduction in DVA’s mail and courier costs.

By digitising these important and fragile historical artefacts, we are also protecting them for the future, preserving them for historians and family members in decades to come. Once digitised, many of these files will be consigned to the National Archives of Australia as permanently retained records.

Change management

DVA has built on its capacity to manage change by developing change training that has increased understanding of change across all levels of the organisation. In 2018–19, 149 staff participated in 12 sessions held across eight locations nationally. This included Change Management Induction and Foundation courses for staff at all levels; and awareness presentations to DVA’s Senior Executive Service cohort.

As a result of these sessions, all participants have gained a deeper awareness of the DVA transformation agenda and the behavioural change levers that are available to deliver that transformation.

DVA has tested the capture and reporting of transformation change activities so that we have a greater understanding of present and future impacts of change. This testing has identified the need to establish better processes and quality assurance regarding change.

In partnership with Services Australia, we have started to develop a suite of applications that inform the direction and impacts of change across the organisation. The learnings from Services Australia, through their own development of a Change Front Door, are informing our efforts to streamline the requirements and implementation of change reporting and communication systems.