The CPSU welcomes today’s announcement of a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide and commends the tireless work of the veteran community and their families.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs staff strive to do the very best for our veterans, but the Government’s arbitrary staffing cap is hamstringing their ability to do that.

Today when a veteran applies for assistance from DVA, they face crippling wait times solely caused by the Coalition Government’s Average Staffing Cap which mandates that a Department can only employ the same number of public servants as it had in 2007.

But the Department has 379 fewer ongoing employees than there were in 2012/13, despite its client numbers increasing to 323,000 in 2019/20, up from 313,000 in 2012/13.

The CPSU is calling for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veterans Suicide Terms of Reference to:

  1. Investigate the staffing profile of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs;
  2. Investigate causal factors of wait times and backlogs in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs; and
  3. Investigate the privatisation of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs through use of labour hire companies.

On Friday, over 300 staff wrote to Prime Minister Morrison and Minister Chester urging action in the May Budget on this staffing cap that hurts veterans and causes staggering wait times and backlogs.

The Morrison Government could act today by cancelling labour hire contracts and bringing this workforce into the APS. This simple action would save taxpayers millions and ensure up to an extra 400 workers could process claims.

Quotes attributable to CPSU Deputy National President Brooke Muscat:

“The CPSU welcomes today’s Royal Commission announcement and hopes it will lead to better outcomes for veterans and their families.

“It is vital this Royal Commission investigate the Department of Veterans Affairs’ wasting millions upon millions of dollars every year on labour hire companies when that money that could be better used helping veterans.

“Our members are proud to work hard every day helping our veterans, but there just are not enough workers to get the job done. Right now, there are claims older than 450 days that are yet to be processed, and even then, once a claim is determined, some clients have to wait up to 5 months for access to payments/pension increases due to backlogs and understaffing in other areas of the Department.

“We know there will be many recommendations from such an important Royal Commission, and we also know access to services for veterans is a large part of the challenge. The CPSU is calling on the Government to drop the staffing cap and reverse its privatisation of DVA, to ensure that backlogs and waiting times can be fixed this year.”