Ombudsman investigation into the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) scheme

19 Jun 2019

On 25 March 2019 the Minister for Veterans Affairs announced an Independent Inquiry into the Administration of the DFRDB scheme to be undertaken by the Ombudsman.

On 25 May 2019 the Ombudsman announced its “own motion’ or internal investigation limited to the accuracy of information provided to DFRDB scheme members by scheme administrators, particularly in relation to commutation. The Ombudsman must be guided by what is in the legislation only. The Ombudsman has since then called for submissions from scheme members in relation to commutation – remember this is the limit of its investigation. 

 The scope of the investigation is limited to the accuracy of information provided by scheme administrators and relevant departments to DFRDB scheme members in relation to commutation.
The Ombudsman is accepting submissions from members of the DFRDB scheme about the information they were provided about commutation. You or your organisation are invited to provide a submission. The form for you to do so, is available electronically here on our website at ombudsman.gov.au/dfrdb

Specific details about the investigation, including information about making a submission, can be found at ombudsman.gov.au/dfrdb.

If you want to speak with a member of the DFRDB Investigation Team please contact the team by email DFRDB.Investigation@ombudsman.gov.au and a member of the team will contact you. Please let the team know if you would like to meet with us in as part of this investigation, and we will be in contact to find a suitable time.

Note that the closing date for submissions is 30 June 2019. 

ADSO encourages scheme members to respond to the Ombudsman’s Questionnaire. Do not be dissuaded by the limited space on the form but make a separate submission if necessary. Be constructive and considered in your responses.

ADSO Comment. Somewhat perplexing is that, contrary to the Minister’s statement that the ESO community will be consulted about the inquiry’s Terms of Reference, no such consultation has eventuated. Also perplexing is that, while the Ombudsman doesn’t say so in his letters, the Ombudsman’s website states under the Overview that:

“We are undertaking an own motion investigation into the administration of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) scheme, specifically the issue of commutation.”

Perhaps the ‘own motion investigation’ needs clarification because it certainly does not fit the original plan to conduct the DFRDB inquiry under the guidance of Terms of Reference. 

In the meantime, ADSO through DFWA has written to the Ombudsman seeking clarification of the extent of its investigation and are developing draft Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the Independent Inquiry that will be put to the Minister at the earliest opportunity.