The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has said the delay in publishing the McKinsey report was due to the caretaker period and intervening federal election, saying it was ‘prudent’ to wait for the outcome of the election and the appointment of the minister.
The report, published last week, found a 37,000 backlog of applications for compensation from veterans, as previously reported in The Mandarin.
The new minister for veterans affairs, Matt Keogh, previously accused the Morrison government of covering up the report.
A departmental spokesperson told The Mandarin in a statement the department provided a copy of the report to the ongoing Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide on 23 December 2021.
The spokesperson further stated that clearing the backlog was a top priority of the department, and said it would be able to provide an update later. The government has committed more than $200 million and 500 extra staff to address the backlog.
The new staff will require approximately six months of training to be fully trained due to the complexity of the legislation. The departmental spokesperson added the new staff would be able to process simpler claims at the beginning, working up to more complex ones at the end of the six-month period.
“The review provided valuable insights and DVA will use the findings to inform our work to improve the claims processing system in consultation with the government. The government has recognised there needs to be far-reaching and effective reform to ensure the delivery of crucial support to the veteran community.
“Our veterans have given service to this country and the government and department are committed to their wellbeing, financial support, and to honouring their service and sacrifice,” the spokesperson added.
According to the spokesperson, the DVA has been undertaking a range of initiatives to address the backlog, including screening claims to identify ‘at risk’ veterans to prioritise those claims and working with the Department of Defence to identify transitioning members, with attention to those being medically discharged.