Home' Vetaffairs : Vetaffairs - Spring 2017 Contents 12 — Vetaffairs Spring 2017
A large program of document
scanning within DVA is helping
to speed up the claims process
and make client records more
accessible to the DVA staff who
need to use them.
Since its inception, the
Department has stored clients’
information primarily on paper
files. Until 2015, some 25 tonnes
of paper were being moved
around the country each month,
as part of usual DVA operations,
with more than a million files tak-
ing up space in three warehouses
and other storage facilities.
In these modern times, this is
no longer acceptable.
In November last year, the
Department ceased creating a
paper file for each new client that
Scanning of documents speeds up claims process
Over the last year the Depart-
ment of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA)
has begun to deliver a number
of tangible improvements that
will deliver better outcomes and
experiences for veterans and
These changes represent
the first steps in what will be a
long journey. DVA is in the first
months of its Veteran Centric
Reform (VCR) program.
One highlight of depart-
mental reform currently in
development is the new web
application MyService. Having
gone live in April, this online
claim tool has reduced DVA’s
paper-based claims process
from 36 to between three and
five questions (see full story
on page one of this edition of
Another highlight of DVA’s
transformation so far is the
Department’s digitisation pro-
gram, currently converting
100,000 print pages to digital
documents per week (see story
below). As part of VCR the
Department is looking to boost
this to 300,000 each week. This
process allows DVA to replace
paper-based processes and stop
sending files from office to
office by truck or by plane. This
not only speeds up the time
taken to assess a file, but also
allows files to be used for mul-
tiple processes simultaneously.
Staff from DVA have talked to over 500 veterans and their families about how the
Department can improve in ways that will provide the most help.
A journey of organisational change
For nearly a century, DVA’s
fundamental mission has
been to support those who
serve, or have served in
defence of our nation and
to commemorate their service and sacrifice.
The veterans who come to us looking for support need our help.
They often need this assistance immediately. To date, we have
not always been able to offer that immediate help, though that
is our goal for the future.
We know we can do better, which is why we are now focused
on a comprehensive upgrade to our systems, processes and
technology that will improve the way we do business, address
delays and streamline the services we offer. These improve-
ments are necessary to transform us into the Department that
veterans need us to be.
We believe that simplifying our systems will make it easier
for our clients to communicate with us. This will allow us to
build relationships with a larger number of veterans, providing
assistance to those who may previously have seen connection
with the Department as too complex or burdensome.
We know, for example, that there are often significant wait
times associated with our services and that our phone sys-
tems need streamlining. Our ICT systems are outdated, we’re
governed by complex legislation and our largely paper-based
business processes need a complete overhaul.
The transformation program that is currently underway will
allow us to make significant improvements to the system.
It will allow us to set in motion plans to consolidate the num-
ber of external DVA phone numbers to reduce phone transfers
and, in time, move towards a system where clients will access
help by ringing a single 1800 VETERAN number.
The reform process will allow us to work towards dramatically
reducing approval times for urgent medical health treatment.
It will allow us to decommission legacy ICT systems and
ensure documentation for every new client we serve is set
up and maintained digitally rather than in paper form, as we
simultaneously digitise 300,000 pages per week from existing
We are working in partnership with other agencies across
government – including the Department of Defence, the
Department of Human Services (DHS), the Commonwealth
Superannuation Corporation, and others – to leverage their
skills, experience, systems and business processes as we
Through these relationships, DVA is learning what works
well for similar clients and how it can change to provide better,
more modern services to veterans and their families.
Changes like this will see DVA evolve from an organisation
that focuses on claims to one that places veterans and their
families at the centre of everything it does.
Transforming DVA won’t happen overnight, but with our
sights clearly set on improved outcomes for veterans, we’re well
on our way.
for veterans are in our sights
Liz Cosson AM CSC
Chief Operating Officer
It allows staff to collaborate across
geographies, and ensures separate
assessments can be conducted at
the same time.
The Department is also piloting a
new approach to transition to sup-
port veterans and their families as
they separate from the ADF. The
program DVA is trialling will lead
to everyone who joins or separates
from the ADF being registered with
the Department. This will posi-
tion DVA to know and support its
clients, and allows it to reach out
where it is needed to provide sup-
port and services.
Across all this, the Department
is laying the foundations for ongo-
ing transformation. It has begun a
journey of cultural and organisa-
tional change, and has started to
build the ICT capability it needs
to modernise its systems and ser-
vices. These large scale changes will
improve outcomes and experiences
for veterans and their families.
In the development of the VCR Pro-
gram, staff from DVA talked to more
than 500 veterans and their families
to understand the most important
improvements the Department had
DVA Secretary Simon Lewis said
the Department would continue
this journey, keeping veterans at the
heart of everything it did.
‘This commitment to collabora-
tion and co-design will be a mainstay
of our program,’ Mr Lewis said.
‘We have established forums
and working groups with vet-
erans, veteran families, female
veterans, and a vast array of ex-ser -
‘These groups help us stay
focused on what matters most to
veterans and their families so we
can improve in ways that will pro-
vide the most help.
‘We are eager to continue this jour-
ney with you to transform the way
we serve those who have served.’
lodged a claim, and now creates
a digital file only. This brought
to an end a practice that began
almost a century ago and ushers
in the beginning of a new digital
era for DVA.
Following an initial trial, the
conversion of client paper files
into digital, known as digiti-
sation, is well underway. This
program has so far digitised
more than 20,000 client records
(more than 5 million pieces of
On any given day, DVA receives
around 2,500 pieces of mail from
clients, providers and other par-
ties. These are all now routinely
digitised and delivered electroni-
cally to the Department each day.
In the months to come, DVA
will significantly boost the
amount of digitisation that it
undertakes with a recent injec-
tion of funds received under the
Veteran Centric Reform program.
The Department expects to be
digitising well over 300,000 pages
per week, with one of its goals
being to digitise DVA’s most
used and most recent client files
within the next six years.
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