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1.4.6 Personal Visits
Delegates and other DVA staff should use the following general guidelines when organising and preparing for a personal visit with a claimant in his/her home:
- Follow the basic steps outlined for phoning a claimant.
- Be friendly, helpful and professional.
- Arrange the appointment.
- Confirm the appointment prior to the visit either by letter or by a telephone call.
- Gather any necessary resources, eg. business cards and pamphlets.
- Have a badge visible at all times. It must display your photograph, given name and surname.
- Upon arrival, clarify the purpose of your visit.
- As much as possible, stay in the room in which the interview takes place.
- Respect the claimant's cultural heritage.
- Reassure the claimant that any information provided will be treated confidentially and will not be disclosed to other persons or agencies other than for lawful purposes.
- If the claimant does not appear to understand the matters raised during a visit, 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 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 visit. Ensure that the claimant agrees with your understanding of that information. If appropriate advise the claimant regarding any other options which may be available to the claimant in his/her circumstances eg benefits under the VEA, the SRCA, Centrelink. It may be helpful to be able to provide contact details of any other such agencies that may be able to assist.
- After the visit the delegate who met with the claimant should document the outcomes and ensure that it is placed on the claimant's 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.