Local Media

MORE CONSULTANTS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION TO THE CRISIS IN VETERANS’ AFFAIRS – THEY ARE THE PROBLEM

October 28, 2021

Senate Estimates has confirmed that the Morrison-Joyce Government is failing veterans and their families as staff shortages in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) continue to result in increased delays with assistance and a huge backlog of compensation claims.

Last week, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Andrew Gee announced that one of the Government’s preferred consulting firms, McKinsey & Co, had been appointed to overhaul claims processing in DVA to try to make it more efficient.

Questioning from Labor in Senate Estimates last night revealed that McKinsey consultants will be paid $1.3 million to undertake a 10-week audit of DVA’s internal systems and KPIs, and veterans’ and families’ experience of dealing with the department.

Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said that if the Government was serious about tackling long wait times and improving veterans’ experience, the review needs to look at the impact of chronic staff shortages in DVA, and not just internal bureaucracy.

“We know that long waiting times are a direct result of the LNP’s cap on permanent public servants, which forces DVA to rely on high levels of poorly trained contractors, with Senate Estimates revealing that 35 per cent of departmental staff are labour hired,” he said.

“We don’t need another expensive consultant’s review to tell us that.

 “Already, DVA has spent more than $5 million on consultants this financial year – one of the highest in the public service – and there have been multiple reviews of the department in recent years, but claims processing times have only gotten worse.

“Unless the Government is prepared to abolish its rigid departmental staffing cap and allow DVA to hire more permanent employees, waiting times will continue to blow out and veterans will keep suffering,” Mr Neumann said. 

Labor has called on the Government to release the Terms of Reference for the McKinsey review, and ensure it does not duplicate or interfere with the important work of the Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide. 

“The Morrison-Joyce Government should stop outsourcing responsibility for veterans and their families to external consultants, and show some leadership.”

“Otherwise, this review will be just a marketing exercise from a new minister who is keen to be seen to be doing something on the eve of an election.”

“After eight long years in government, the Liberals and Nationals still have no plan to deliver better services for veterans and their families.”

“The Morrison Government outsourced the design of its failed vaccine rollout and the development of its last-minute emissions ‘plan’ to McKinsey – now they are tasked with the mess in Veterans’ Affairs.”

“A new management consultant is never going to tell you that management consultants are a bad idea. They are part of the problem.”

“Instead of another expensive consultant, the Morrison-Joyce Government should listen to veterans, their families and DVA staff who are demanding change.”

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST