20. Mefloquine Dispatches: 1800 MEFLOQUINE, 10th May 2019
by Shane Granger
I am at the RSL sub-branch. We sit in the small office, my Advocate and I awaiting our coffees from the café next door. We chat about things that are going on in our lives. It is one of our little rituals.
The coffees arrive.
L* (my Advocate) thinks we should ring the 1800-MEFLOQUINE number today before we put in any paperwork. Mefloquine, unlike other defence related injuries has its own helpline.
I don’t handle calls to the DVA very well but L* is there to do the talking so I agree.
We call 1800-MEFLOQUINE.
The young lady who answers the phone is professional, personable, helpful but doesn’t know anything about mefloquine.
L* asks if we have a claim that is mefloquine related is there a fast-track process and is there someone available to talk us through it.
We are told that the 1800-MEFLOQUINE number is now going through to the main contact line and there are no specialists available to talk to. It seems the call-line is about to be archived due to a lack of need.
Another frustration. L* and I put some of the paperwork through anyway. Hopefully we can get it in time to be amongst the Veterans receiving the anti-malarial health checks which we are told by the Minister will be available in July.
Several frustrating months later I am happy to report that the 1800-MEFLOQUINE number is back up and running. Also there is another commitment to the anti-malarial health checks.
Not in July 2019 as promised.
That aside, we are starting to make some progress. I’ll be ringing 1800-MEFLOQUINE this Thursday with a witness to formally report mefloquine exposure on Operation BARITONE..
Let’s see how they go the second time around.