The Morrison Government has outsourced its responsibility for veterans and their families to a consultancy firm with a new mandate to “fix issues” in Department of the Veterans' Affairs (DVA) claims and processing.

Despite evidence in Senate Estimates and Parliamentary Inquiries showing that what is desperately needed, is simply more staff.

Today when a veteran applies for assistance from DVA, they face crippling wait times solely caused by the Coalition Government’s ideological departmental staffing caps which limit APS numbers, and have driven departments to contract monstrous amounts of labour hire to try and fill gaps.

The Morrison Government has known the cause of backlogs and processing issues for years, but has failed to act. The recent small increase in the departmental staffing cap was used to transfer hundreds of existing labour hire staff onto to 2 years APS contracts, meaning there has not been the staffing increase the government proclaims.

Since 2019, DVA has spent $53,091,615.47 on labour hire contacts alone, and it is clear that the government intends this to increase. The government must lift DVA’s staffing levels to give them the workforce needed to clear the backlog of veterans claims, and provide the best support they can for those that have served our nation.

The Morrison Government could act today and resolve this issue 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.

Brooke Muscat, CPSU Deputy National President said, “This is just another empty announcement from a new Minister desperate to neutralise a political issue. We know that demand for veteran services is only increasing, as is the backlog of veterans’ claims waiting to be processed.

“The Morrison Government doesn’t need to be spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars, on the eve of an election, to investigate issues they already know the cause of.

“There is a direct link between staff shortages, the revolving door of labour hire in DVA and the appalling waiting times and reduced services for veterans. This is on the government, not the people doing the work – the workers’ hands are tied.

“Our members are committed to the work they do and want to deliver on community expectations. But the government is refusing to give DVA the staff and resources it needs to simply get the job done. Instead Minister Gee is handing big bucks to consultants to tell them what the workforce and Parliament Inquiries has been telling the government for years. There is no point changing a process if there are not the workers there to staff it.

“As part of our CPSU Inquiry into Safe Workloads we have recommended the Department audit workloads and expectations. McKinsey cannot complete that work as they are not the expert in complex veterans claims processing which traverses three complicated Acts.

“Changing KPIs or renaming processes won’t change the fact that wait times have ballooned and veterans are suffering as a result. What will change that is investing in enough staff to do the work.

“The government has an obligation to make sure that it spends public money wisely and efficiently. If the government transferred all labour hire workers to secure APS positions today, it would walk away with huge savings it could reinvest in more staff to address the backlogs and wait times.”

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