Report – Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESCORT)

Two-Part Report by Ian Lindgren – Chairperson Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association | Founder, Australian Veteran Community | Executive Chairman – PayMe Group.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT) and wanted to provide an update. Firstly, I must mention how impressed I was with the new Secretary DVA. No; I am not butt snorkelling. For example, during the meeting when an issue arose in another department’s jurisdiction, Alison demonstrated a refreshing attitude by agreeing to engage with the relevant Secretary. Until then, the policy was such that if the matter did not involve DVA, it did not concern them. This was a significant change and one that pleased me because other departments cause veterans great distress. I’ll run this update over a couple of posts.

The Treasury Laws Amendment Bill also referred to as the Douglas Decision remediation. This should never have reached the House and Senate without ESORT, YVF, and most importantly, grassroots veterans and veteran families being able to comprehend its implications. Some can say that the Government does not have to do that and they are correct, but IMHO there has been to much of that going on and we do need to see things so we can consult with you.

To the best of my knowledge, for now, the legislation is in a holding pattern for two months. This is what I asked of Minister Thistlethwaite, the Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs, and it was stopped, and with the help of the Secretary DVA members from Treasury, the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) and Defence were asked to attend ESORT and brief us. Not so ESORT could make a call on the matter, but the reason why is in the next paragraph.

During the briefing, members from Treasury, CSC and Defence confirmed that no one will be disadvantaged. However, I observed that several assumptions had been made during the briefing which could permit misinterpretations and I pointed this out. It also became clear that few people in ESORT understood the legislation to the degree that would be required of them to identify whether or not it is good or not so good.

We recommended that ESORT create a subcommittee with explicit terms of reference and resources to obtain impartial advice over the following two months. The subcommittee would include membership from grassroots veterans and key advocates, and I’m waiting for the Minutes to confirm this. I can’t volunteer to be on this committee due to personal reasons. While I did ask for the legislation to be removed from the rest of the Omnibus Bill, not everyone agreed, so it is still there during this period.

Ian Lindgren
Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association Ltd
End of post 1

ESORT Backbrief Post 2 of 2

Incarceration of Veterans.

A recent paper was circulated that focused on the incarceration of veterans, which is predominantly the responsibility of state and territory governments. However, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has been collaborating with states and territories to raise awareness about the experiences of veterans in custody and how to provide appropriate assistance.

During my pre-reading, I found that Open Arms does not assist incarcerated veterans, though the paper suggested they do. This is now an action item on my list, along with Open Arms’ need for a true 24/7 helpline, as they do not have one.

Paying for Advocacy Services

On the topic of paying for advocacy services, opinions vary. While there are some reputable companies, there are also those that act unscrupulously. In particular, some fee-charging advocates claim affiliation with an ESO when they are not, which gives false hope to veterans. I am investigating a case in QLD where a group of veterans were traumatised by threats to pay an invoice that they did not agree to in the first place. It is essential to verify the situation and not take things at face value.

ESORT and the YVF

It was agreed that a member of the YFV would attend ESORT, and a member of ESORT would attend YVF. The YVF has identified a member to attend ESORT and the YVF has been asked who they would like from ESORT to attend their meetings.
Information Systems

I quizzed the DVA IT team on who conducts the user acceptance testing for all applications and I could not receive a clear response. Consequently, the Secretary recommended creating an ESORT IT Subcommittee.


Whilst time ran out to discuss the topic at ESORT the APPVA is proposing to establish a veteran community secretariat to provide services to the veteran community members of ESORT and the YVF in the first instance. To hold regular meetings at one month intervals to identify day to day issues and task a member to action and then close to plan 12 months in advance etc

Claims Processing

We were presented with information on the progress of claims processing. It really is not falling in the number in backlog to any major degree. I hold the opinion that this time next year when it is supposed to be zero that it won’t be and I have advised the Secretary on my recommended approach to this to truly bring it under control and be transparent. My main point is that we should be counting conditions because then we will see a meaningful number against which you can place a weight of effort to process due to the nature of the condition. Grouping a random number of conditions together and calling them a claim seems misleading to me.

Ian Lindgren
Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association Ltd

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