Axon’s own Build Support Assistant Hayley takes a deep dive into her past experience as an Advocate and shares her DVA knowledge with Coach Dan on this special extended episode of #coachtalk.
Having trained up to be a Level 2 Advocate with RSL Victoria, Hayley runs through the basics to prepare you for your DVA claim and how exactly an Advocate can help to support you throughout the process.
Why should you use an Advocate?
- Advocates are usually ex-serving members who have received accredited training under the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) and have specialist knowledge in the field.
- They know the ins and outs of everything to do with DVA and will liaise with them directly on your behalf.
- They’re on your side and can relate to you, taking a holistic approach to support including your welfare and wellbeing while they guide you through the process.
How can you claim?
- Engage an Advocate from your local RSL or Ex Service Organization
This is a free service. Once provided with your Proof of Identity Documentation, your Advocate will help you create a DVA profile. They can then also assist with applying for a white card (for Non-Liability Health Care) and make a plan for any future claims.
- Find a GP
Find a GP that will take on DVA claims and engage to discuss your injury or disease. You will need to have the GP complete an Injury Disease Sheet (D2049) to confirm your diagnosis.
- Apply for your Medical Documents
As soon you have a DVA profile created, your Advocate will assist with creating separate injury claims.
- Submit claims with your Advocate
When should you claim?
You should lodge claims as they happen. Once you have a diagnosis for a service related injury, engage an advocate as soon as possible. They can then run you through the process of preparing and lodging your claim with DVA.
- Hayley, one of the newest members of the Axon team, so welcome here today.
- Thank you.
- I suppose one of the things we want to deep dive into today is firstly, find out a bit more about you, but then I sort of want to branch across into talking about how people go about getting all their sort of their claims through and working with the team from DVA and just sort of saying how that progress actually works. So I suppose let's start from the beginning, let's go back to you, what your background was in the military and sort of move forward chronologically.
- Yeah, so I joined the army, I did 10 years in the army, 6 of that was transport corps as a driver, and then also did 4 years in postal, and basically once I hit my 10 years, I knew it was time to get it out and learn some new skills and branch out, so, I got a job with RSL Victoria and are they trained up to be a Level 2 advocate. So, yeah!
- That's pretty much. What is obviously you just brought up then, what is a Level 2 advocate? Like obviously there's different tiers of advocate based on that info, but what's a Level 2 advocate mean?
- Yep, so we have to go through some vigorous training, so basically you have to go through Level 1, which once you Level 1 you still have to be supervised by a qualified advocate. Once you get Level 2, it means you’re basically free to then lodge claims, compensation claims on behalf of clients with DVA. So it takes about 12 months to become qualified through the advocacy training and development program. Yeah, the training is monitored and you have to pass certain, hit certain points in your training, which is both on the job training as well as, it's called campus, so it's very, very similar to campus courses, and then you have to go and do a three-day
face-to-face like testing to make sure that you are up to the scratch of an advocate
- All right, so is it a fair amount of lead-up training before you can actually go forward and help people?
- What about after Level 2? Like, is there subsequent levels beyond that as well?
- Yeah, so a Level 3, you then dive into more of the appeals process. So, it's more training again, that training can also take 6 to 12 months and it's basically then you're able to front the Veteran's Review Board, on behalf of your client, or veteran into an appeal, so for an example, an appeal would be, if someone's lodged a claim and that claim has been rejected, they would lodge an appeal with the Veterans Review Board and an advocate can then take that appeal on, on behalf of the client.
- If someone goes through the appeal process do they get allocated a Level 3 advocate, or that I have to go and find their own?
- So normally, we like to, we would hope that everyone who has started the claim process, through liability, would have done so with an advocate, and then, just say with myself, one of my clients had a claim rejected then as part of most teams in advocacy, so most your selected, for example RSO, in our team we had three qualified Level 3. So, we would then do a handover with the Level 3 advocate to then take on that appeal.
- Oh, so you don't go in cold with the Level 3, if you have to do the redress. All right, that's okay.
- That's a handy thing. I suppose, there's probably a lot of people out there that are going like, hey, I'm either getting out now and I've got a couple of injuries, or I mean you've got the other option, which is, you're getting medically discharged out of the military. Is there a significant difference in the process you'd follow if you're medically discharging, versus getting out on your own steam and then making claims?
- So, to begin with, I think everyone should be going through the same process as in, everyone should engage an advocate as soon as they're injured.
- Right, so at point of injury point-
- At point of injury, engage an advocate.
- Then you get an advocate on your side. Why is that?
- So, it's better off to lodge claims as they happen, so that let's just say you do 20 years in the military, you don't then have to try and backtrack 20 years worth of injuries, to then claim. So, if you're still serving, I would definitely, as soon as you are injured, or even mental health, anything that's service related, I would then and there engage an advocate. The advocate that can then run you through the process of lodging your claim, and that way, let's just say 10 years time you're discharged, you've already had all the injuries accepted, on discharge you can then go to the next step, which is compensation.
- Right. How come this, like what's the benefits of an advocate because oftentimes people are sitting there going, "Hey I could probably square this stuff away myself." And then they sort of go their own path. Why would you even bother going into an advocate?
- So most advocates, or almost all advocates, you know, a couple that aren't, but most advocates are ex-serving members themselves, so you can relate to your advocate, like I said before, an advocate goes through minimum 12 months training just to get at Level 1, and then I have two or three more training to be unsupervised. So, they know the ins and outs of everything to do with DVA. They can also think holistically, so, they're not just thinking about the initial claim process for liability, They're also thinking ahead thinking compensation. They're thinking, you know, also the medical discharge process, and yeah, they can basically make a plan from today almost through your whole life, and they have that knowledge to be able to point you in the right direction, and also an advocate will liaise with DVA on your behalf. It takes the stress out of claiming, it takes the stress out of trying to learn the lingo of DVA and all the different Acts that, you know, you might come under. Some members had done 20, 30 years of service, they might come out of 2 or 3 different Acts, so it can get very tricky.
- I love how passionately you speak about this, and I don't know if you've realized this, but a few times you've said, "The way that we do, "and the way that we do is." Is that something that you never really let go of being a bit of an advocate at some point?
- Yeah definitely, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so, I come from a background of army siblings, and grandfather and whatnot. So yeah, I love helping people, I loved being an advocate. Yeah, it's something I'm very passionate about. Even in the office, I find like on a day-to-day basis, I'm, you know, throwing my two cents in and around with DVA or even just someone might have a question about DVA, a client might, I might even hear a client asking some questions about DVA, and I'll just point them in the right direction. So, obviously I'm not gonna give specific advice, not being an advocate anymore, but just making sure that they have got their everything in line. They have engaged an advocate, you know, things like medical documents, they have their medical documents, from their service, like going through it, just yeah, really setting everyone up.
- So talking, we obviously said at point of injury, you then go and get yourself an advocate, what are the next sort of macro steps that you take right through until you actually submit a claim, I suppose?
- So once you have an advocate, the advocate will set you up with the DVA profile. So it's normally providing DVA with proof of identity. Once you're in the system of DVA, normally you will go through your advocate, or yourself will go through your medical docs,. and what we used to like to do is basically create folders, about every injury that you sustained, so one for your back, one for a hip, one of your shoulder, go through and just make individual photos of injuries. That way you've got specific dates, when you've injured yourself, any diagnosis, that will come handy when you're lodging a claim. And engaging with the GP, so if you've already left the military, you, as soon as you leave, it's really good to engage wherever you've moved to, really good to engage with a new GP, and that way you can build a relationship with that GP, and so when it comes time to lodge a claim, you have the GP on your side, not all GPs will take on DVA because DVA paperwork can be quite, the paperwork can be quite enormous. So, some GPs won't take it on. So it's very important that you have the conversation with the GP to make sure they're willing and able to take on DVA claims.
- Yeah, awesome. So once then you've got your GP on your side and you submit the claim, like how long does the process take, and sort of, what are those people that have claimed at the moment, what are they experiencing?
- So at the moment, DVA is severely backlogged in their claims, with the introduction of myGov, a lot of people have been just lodging, a lot of their own claims and lodging probably more than they should. So there's about a 12 month wait with DVA at the moment. That's why it's probably really important to lodge claims as they happen, so that you've got everything sorted.
- Yeah, so it's like 12 months before they actually make an assessment on yours, whether you reasonable, and then beyond that, obviously it's the time for them to actually assign a monetary value that.
- So if your injury has been approved by DVA, so liability has been accepted, the next stage is obviously compensation. So, that next stage might take 3 or 6 months also. So if you're still serving, and if you think you're going to be leaving, you know, service within the next 12 months, I'd definitely pulled the trigger now, get liability accepted, and then once you leave military, you can then pull the trigger on the compensation, but advocate, you need an advocate.
- Yeah, so if you're even thinking about getting out, firstly, already go and get an advocate. start logging your claims, if you're thinking about getting out in the next 12 months to 24 months, start getting admin together, because when you've gotten out, it seems like it's a lot harder to actually go back and get the detail you need once you're out.
- Yeah, and if you're still serving, you've still got access to the base GPs, you know, you can get sent off for specialists, you know, diagnoses, you can get sent off for x-rays and imaging and stuff, and at defense's expense. So, are you better off pulling the trigger while that you're still in, using, you know, your defense entitlements with your medical system, and also, yeah, peace of mind, so when you leave, you know that even just for, forget monetary compensation, it's even just to have your injuries recognized, so that when you leave DVA will fund medical treatment for your injuries.
- Awesome, thanks mate.