Random Analytica

Random thoughts, charts, infographics & analysis. Not in that order

Tag: DVA

40. Mefloquine Dispatches: Accessing Superannuation, 17th April – 3rd May 2019

I’m very sick. Before being admitted to hospital I use the last of my dollars in the bank to pay a month of rent in advance. I ring my NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) provider who immediately cancels my payments. When I leave hospital, I must reapply for Newstart. At approximately $700 per fortnight, it only just covers rent and food.

I am in a bad way mentally, physically, and financially.

I understand I can access up to $10,000 via my super due to financial hardship. I’ve assisted a few people in this regard in the past. I put in the application with the following cover letter:

I get the answer back via a phone call and follow-up email two weeks later. The answer is No.

I’ve been sober for more than 550-days to this point but this tips me over. I’m also reacting badly to the anti-psychotics I’ve been prescribed. I’ve just been released from hospital and now staring down the barrel of homelessness (again). I don’t care anymore. I buy a flagon and get to work.

Ironically, I’ve been doing a financial planning internship for two years. I’m doing the reading on compassionate grounds, but the bar is set very high. Too high for me in fact. The suggestion of going to the Department of Human Services and asking for mercy is laughable. I re-read the email from MLC as the wine kicks in and I have a thought. Don’t I get some money from the DVA?

I send the DVA a request for more information. They respond the very next day.

It is $6.20 per fortnight but meets the criteria for a pension payment. I’ve been on it for eight months. I forward the pension verification to MLC.

My application for accessing my superannuation is approved the next day.

It shouldn’t be this hard.

If you need help…

Thank you for your interest. More Mefloquine Dispatches can be found here.

39. Mefloquine Dispatches: Anti-Malarial Medications Health Assessment Program, 15th March 2019

I wasn’t involved in the 2018 Senate Enquiry into the “Use of the Quinoline anti-malarial drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force”. Why would I? I never deployed.

Turned out I copped the Mefloquine Loading Dose in 1997. Plus, the cocktail they serve up afterwards. It was never noted in my medical or personal records. I didn’t remember it until I had flashbacks to another incident. It all got lost to history until the flashbacks hospitalised me.

I got very ill in late 2018 and continued to worsen until I was hospitalised in March 2019. I left the mental health unit in early April with a will to get better. I tried to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs for months after that and my advocates and I were initially optimistic about the DVA’s response to the Senate Enquiry. As my advocate and I filled out the claims for mefloquine which I had done almost two-decades previously we were heartened by Darren Chester’s announcement of the Anti-Malarial Initiative.

You can read the Ministers statement here. He announced this on the 15th March 2019.

When my advocate and I rang up a few months later in mid-2019 we were told that the entire Mefloquine programme was being shut down!

Here is the official response for the anti-malarial health check dated 2nd October 2019.

We fought very hard to get mefloquine back on the agenda. The various Ministers and the DVA have fought against us at every step.

The Anti-Malarial Medications Health Assessment Program finally got up in late 2021 run by BUPA. Outsourced to an insurance company.

Why is that important today?

Because the DVA is promoting a program that outsources complex health situations for veterans in extremely hazardous situations to an insurance group. This has led to deaths amongst veterans.

It needs to stop.

If you need help…

Thank you for your interest. More Mefloquine Dispatches can be found here.

32. Mefloquine Dispatches: My Letter to Matt Keogh, 4th June 2022

Matt,

Congratulations on your appointment as the Minister of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). What ever your flavour of politics it has always been a tough portfolio. I wish you luck.

Have you heard about mefloquine? If the answer is no, we should chat.

Regards.

Shane Granger

27. Mefloquine Dispatches: McKinsey & Company, 19th October 2021

I completely missed this when it was very quietly released a month ago, so many thanks to Andrew Greene from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for tweeting this out today.

Via the Defence and Veteran Suicide Royal Commission. Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide to open in Brisbane. Excerpt:

Last week the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel announced the appointment of consultants McKinsey & Company to take action to improve the claims system for supporting veterans, administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Minister is reported to have said that McKinsey & Co would be consulting with bereaved families of veterans who have died by suicide.

What?

The Royal Commission hasn’t even started and the current government is giving money to questionable consultants. The fact that staff from a consulting company would be discussing the deaths of loved ones with bereaved families is beyond my understanding. Then you have the complexities including mefloquine or tafenoquine.

In my view the McKinsey appointment doesn’t pass the pub test.

 

If you need help…

Thank you for your interest. More Mefloquine Dispatches can be found here.

23. Mefloquine Dispatches: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, 28th February 2020

In correspondence to the Australian Senate in November 2019 I requested answers to the following questions:

  • I would like to know the status of the comprehensive health assessments announced by the minister on 15 March 2019;
  • I would like all the personnel involved in Operation BARITONE to receive a comprehensive health assessment and you would like to receive a response from the minister to this request;
  • I would like the committee to investigate the status of the Mefloquine help line;

The Committee replied on the 28th February 2020:

20. Mefloquine Dispatches: 1800 MEFLOQUINE, 10th May 2019

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.

Sometime in 2020.

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.

13. Mefloquine Dispatches: The Commonwealth Department of Veterans Affairs, 2000

If you or someone you know needs help, please phone Lifeline on 131 114, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Open Arms on 1800 011 046.