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1.4.4 Basic Steps to Follow when Telephoning a Claimant
If the claimant does not have a representative, or if a claimant's representative does not object to the delegate contacting the claimant directly, delegates must adhere to the following protocols whenever contacting a claimant by telephone:
- The delegate must clearly identify himself/herself as a delegate who works with the Military Compensation Claims area Section of DVA.
- The delegate should ask the claimant if he/she is prepared to discuss the matter immediately or if he/she would prefer the delegate to phone again at an agreed time.
- If the claimant is prepared to discuss the matter on the phone, he/she must be advised :
that the delegate is phoning in relation to the claimant's application for compensation under the MRCA;
of the purpose of seeking information directly from the claimant; and
of other persons or agencies to whom any information may be disclosed. Reassure the claimant that any information provided will only be used for lawful purposes and will only be released to other persons or agencies on a need to know basis. In other words the claimant's right to privacy will be protected.
- The delegate should inform the claimant of the possible implications of providing further information which may not support the claim for compensation (ie. it may be necessary to disallow the claim or to determine that there is no longer liability to pay compensation).
- If the claimant does not appear to understand the matters raised during a telephone conversation, he/she should be encouraged to seek assistance from an ex-service organisation representative. Note: Claimants should neither be encouraged nor discouraged from engaging the services of a solicitor if that possibility is raised. However, in such circumstances delegates might reasonably advise the claimant that he/she should consider whether the cost of such representation is necessary before a matter is actually determined under the MRCA. Delegates might also reasonably point out that the reconsideration and review of decisions under the Act are available at no cost to the claimant if she/he is unhappy with almost any decision made under the MRCA and that assistance is available at no cost through ex-service organisations.
- Summarise any information which may have been obtained from the claimant during a phone conversation and ensure the claimant agrees with your understanding of that information.
- Document the call and ensure a detailed record is kept on file.
- The file note should be dated and signed by the claims assessor.
- If the information provided during the conversation could impact negatively upon the success of a claim, verification should be sought from the claimant or their representative.
- A copy of the file note should be sent with a reply paid envelope to the claimant or their representative. The note must be signed and dated by the claimant as being an accurate rendering of the information provided and sent back to the Department.
- If the claimant does not agree with the recorded information, he or she should clarify any points of disagreement in writing. A covering letter should inform the claimant that if they do not agree with what is recorded in the file note, they should contact the person who signed the file note as soon as possible. Otherwise the Department will rely on the information contained in the file note.