DFRDB – AUGUST UPDATE
Welcome to a further update on our Campaign progress that involves two important matters, and in the case of our Lower House Parliamentary Petition news of the date of its review and approval release being expected later in September. It is essential that every one of you participates in this process as active Petitioners and encourage outside support.
The other matter I bring to notice related to our submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, a copy of which follows:
- Lower House Petition:
My previous heads-up related to my application for a further Lower House Parliamentary Petition on our DFRDB Commutation Issue. Additionally, the need for the broadest number of petitioners was reinforced with an appeal to all to distribute advice of the matter to family, friends, associated and colleagues as well as to organisations superannuants held membership to, that support could be requested of. Recent advice from the Petitions Secretariate indicated our Petition will be reviewed for approval by the Petitions Committee about 21 September 2022. Petitions are normally approved within 24 hours and are then open online for endorsement by petitioners for a period of one month. Once approved I will advise details of the link to the site. Your strong support consistent with my previous call to action is encouraged.
- Submission Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
Until recently being brought to my attention, I had believed that submissions to this RC investigation were outside of the parameters of our Campaign. However, after review of the Royal Commission’s Letters Patent, I am able to advise that I have now made a submission on behalf of the DFRDB Commutation Campaign consistent with the Letters Patent that apply. A copy of my submission follows below:
DFRDB COMMUTATION CAMPAIGN
SUBMISSION TO THE ROYAL COMMISSION INTO ADF AND VETERAN SUICIDE
As an Independent Advocate, I represent 55,000 veteran Superannuants who accepted a Commutation of their DFRDB entitlements, as compulsory, contributory, members of this superannuation scheme introduced to the ADF C1973.
On transition from the ADF, entitled veterans (after having served in excess of 20 years) were duped by the scheme administrator the DFRDB AUTHORITY (DFRDBA), into accepting a COMMUTATION of their Retirement Pay entitlements, without the benefit of the term ‘Commutation’ being defined within the DFRDB ACT or the enabling Policy produced by the DFRDB AUTHORITY or being made known to them.
Furthermore, that Authority positively promoted superannuant acceptance of the lump sum provision, while through Exclusionary Detailing and duplicity, failed to provide any information about the life-term financial repayment by Retirement Pay reductions, upon which to make an informed and reasoned judgement of whether the acceptance was in the best long-term financial interest of Veteran Superannuants. The DFRDBA had, however, succinctly informed DEFENCE within their DFRDB enabling Policy statement, accurately about the life term reduction.
Despite this, as evidenced by the OMBUDSMAN’s Independent Inquiry Report, Defence we’re found guilty of MALADMINISTRATION (see Ombudsman’s 1993 definition) and of distributing FALSE INFORMATION to thousands of ADF CONTRIBUTORS to the scheme.
The DFRDB authority published information for Serving Members being transferred to the new Superannuation Scheme. This, however, was not distributed to each contributor, but only to DFRDB Counsellors and to (untrained) Defence Personnel staff, involved in Resettlement counselling. Ironically, unlike the succinct accurate advice provided to Defence, this advice never advised the life-term reduction in Retirement Pay and was a long and ambiguous diatribe.
Some thirty years later, the DFRDB Authority finally, in c2003, released the previously undeclared information about the life-term impost to then contributors. The hundreds of thousands of previously duped Superannuants were never individually informed, nor have they been since.
The DFRDB Scheme was closed to new contributors thereafter and thousands of affected long-serving Veteran Superannuants remain oblivious to the fact that their Retirement Pay continues to be reduced, until their demise.
In c2018-19, I initiated a Lower House Parliamentary Electronic Petition that registered 3,500 petitioners. This was followed by an OMBUDSMAN’S INDEPENDENT INQUIRY, which received some 3,400 submissions from Veteran Superannuants, advising they had never been informed of the DFRDB POLICY condition imposing a life-term penalty of reduction of Retirement Pay beyond their Notional Life Expectancy Point.
Whether they had been duly informed, or not, was the Ombudsman’s PRIME focus of Investigation. However, he then discarded their sworn statements and proceeded to determine by (very rubbery) Actuarial Modelling using just 12 CSC supplied data sets of the 55,000 available, that superannuants suffered any financial detriment in having accepted a Commutation. He completely ignored their loss through ongoing Retirement Pay reductions beyond their Notional Life Expectancy Point. Also, the loss of Indexation on the pre-paid Lump Sum, as well as the loss and indexation benefit thereafter, until their demise.
This matter is not only depriving Veteran Superannuants of what they expected to finance their later years, but is a benefit to the Commonwealth of Hundreds of Millions of Superannuant Dollars annually, even though the Commonwealth’s pre-payment of Superannuation entitlements to this Cohort have been recovered by the NLEP DEADLINE – a condition fully understood by these recipients.
My Campaign has been active for over 4-years with the latest rejection, by a Senate Reference Committee inquiry, based solely on the Ombudsman’s fallacious report findings.
There are some 1000 Veterans registered with the DFRDB COMMUTATION CAMPAIGN and over 2000 followers on social media. My electronic file on this matter contains over 700 folios. Despite communicating with Federal Ministers, Members and Senators and every bureaucratic body possibly engaged by this matter or in its remedy, even registered mail correspondence remains unanswered, particularly by immediate past Minister of Veterans Affairs and Prime Ministers, and the incumbent Minister.
The new Ombudsman has now refused to accept correspondence on the matter or to conduct a review of the previous Investigation Report as formally requested.
Whether any affected Veteran has actually committed suicide as a consequence of this 5-Decade-long debacle, I do not know. However, it aptly demonstrates the Systemic Indifference to our Veterans and the Commonwealth’s Laissez Faire attitude to veteran well-being, mental health, and physical attrition.
The many Veterans with whom I interface, expound serious angst and frustration, particularly at the disrespect shown by, and the unbelievable deception of, their direct employer (DEFENCE). They too, hold a powerful conviction that their personal commitment to the Defence of Australia and its citizens, at any personal cost, counts for naught, despite the Commonwealth’s military and Veteran Covenant – “for what they have done – we will do for them! The practical insincerity of this declaration and its affects on Veterans is unsurmountable, and morally indefensible.
Veteran Superannuants were excluded from the rights of all other Australians, embodied within the Letters Patent of the Financial Services Royal Commission under which Commonwealth superannuation schemes were exempt. This was on the basis that the Commonwealth and its auditing system were beyond reproach. Even our Campaign appeal to the Minister for VETERANS AFFAIRS calling for a totally independent Inquiry employing the RC’s Letters Patent, went unheard. Instead, we were investigated by a Long-Serving, decorated, Public Servant, heading the Commonwealth’s own OMBUDSMAN Office.
Although the Ombudsman condemned DEFENCE and the CDF, and recommended an apology for Maladministration and False Information; he completely exempted blame from his former Public Service colleagues at CSC, and the former DFRDB Authority.
The Minister and his Staffers and bureaucrats are equally deficient in wiping their hands of the whole matter and essentially labelling Veterans as Liars and money- grubbers. The detrimental affects of this saga cannot be underestimated, in its fraudulent treatment of Veterans and the deleterious outcomes on their well-being, trust, and their mental and physical health – detriment that completely undermines their personal precepts of self-value and worth. Matters they previously upheld, as ‘worth dying for’!
Wing Commander Retd.
DFRDB COMMUTATION CAMPAIGN
3 Lerra Street
Jerrabomberra NSW 2619
Ph. 02 62559732