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19/1993 Best Evidence Policy

Document

Central Office Instruction

Instruction No. 19

Date of Effect: 1 January 1993

"BEST EVIDENCE" POLICY

Purpose

The purpose of this Instruction is to advise of a change in the policy governing the eligibility determination process and to provide guidance for delegates responsible for this role.

Background

Part III of the DSH Act provides for the issue of Notices of Eligibility and Certificates of Entitlement to eligible persons. Also included in this Part are the criteria for the issue of certificates for a range of advances available under the Scheme.

Part III of the Act does not specify how the Secretary determines eligibility. Delegates are, however, required to exercise sound judgement and a duty of care in reaching decisions on cases before them. To date the policy has been to request confirmation of service details from the Department of Defence.

We have looked at alternatives to the current arrangements and have decided to adopt a "Best Evidence" policy. One of the prime considerations in introducing this policy is to improve our service to clients.

Policy

It has been decided to widen the circumstances in which other documents may be regarded as acceptable forms of evidence of service. Eligibility can be determined on evidence provided by applicants and they are to be encouraged to supply any relevant papers at the time they approach us. Suitable evidence would include, but not be limited to, unaltered official Defence records, such as:

  • discharge certificates;
  • statements of service;
  • statements from Commanding Officers;
  • pay or log books; and
  • other forms of official and relevant Defence documentation.

In addition to those records provided by applicants, both paper and computer records held elsewhere in the Department of Veterans' Affairs may also be used. State Managers are requested to pursue this matter at the local level.

A copy of the evidence obtained must be placed on the applicant's DSH file.

Service check

Where an application is likely to be declined on the evidence available, delegates are to exercise due caution, including requesting service details from the Department of Defence if necessary. The importance of obtaining all the pertinent facts in such circumstances cannot be overemphasised given the possibility of later review or appeal.

Other examples where a service check may be required are:

  • where the person may have served on land in Malaya or Singapore between 1 September 1957 and 28 May 1963; or
  • where a person has discharged from the Forces and the delegate has reason to believe that the person had some non-effective service or the person was discharged for misconduct or misbehaviour.

Portability

Where a client applies for a Further Advance and the delegate is satisfied that nothing has occurred which would change the person's eligible status, there should be no reason to make a negative decision. In this situation, further eligibility checks should not be necessary.

Quality of Decision Making

It is important to recognise that any decision making process involves some element of risk. Generally, this Instruction is about improving the turn-around times for determining eligibility without unduly risking the accuracy and integrity of the process.

In the context of an on-going Quality Assurance program, procedures to monitor the effect of this policy will be developed. We will be seeking feedback in the months ahead.

Forms

The forms D7607 (Application for a Certificate of Entitlement), and D7604 (Subsidised Home Loans Brochure) have been amended to reflect this change in policy.

A new form D7608 (Service Details) has been developed and a copy is attached. This form is to be given to all serving members for completion by their Commanding Officers. It is similar to that already in use in the Defence Housing Authority for the ADFHLA Scheme.

Stocks of these forms will be available by 1 January 1993.

General Orders

These changes have been incorporated in the revised GOs which are expected to be available on 1 January 1993.

FELICITY M. BARR

GENERAL MANAGER

15 December 1992