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There are times when the knowledge of the Claims Assessor in Disability Compensation or the Single Point of Contact Officer in Income Support dealing with eligibility for service pension and the support offered in the Consolidated Library of Information and Knowledge (CLIK) in the Compensation Claims Processing System (CCPS) or the Eligibility Module (ELMNET) is limited. When there is insufficient information for a decision to be made on certain events that form part of a claim and in cases where there is doubt on issues of fact it is appropriate that expert opinion be sought from another source. That source can be a historical researcher.

When should reports be requested

However, it is not appropriate to seek a report in every case or in every class of cases. For example it would be improper to seek a research report just because the claim was for PTSD or because the claim was from a particular branch of the Defence Forces. Not every veteran or every description of events on service needs to be the subject of a report by a researcher. If the claim relates to a matter of qualifying service for an individual who served in the Northern Territory then requests for a report on all those who served in the Northern Territory may be unnecessary. If the information being sought was provided by an earlier report , in another case, then a further report on the general question is not needed.

Research Contracts

In every case there must be a contract for the research organisation or the individual researcher. A copy of the standard service agreement for historical researchers is attached. State Offices should inform National Office of any historical researcher using the previous contract so that the new standard service agreement can be signed.

Researcher not listed

If the State Office wishes to use a researcher not already listed a contract can be quickly arranged. National Office will maintain a list of historians who currently have contracts with the Department. This list, attached, will be updated from time to time. National Office will also have copies of CVs for each researcher. CVs can be supplied on request.

Qualifying service matters

The issue of researcher's reports arises mainly in the context of disability pension claims. Nevertheless, delegates making decisions on qualifying service matters should pay heed to the general advice and must also ensure that a contract exists with the researcher where those services are utilised.

Selection of a researcher

The responsibility for selecting a researcher lies with the State Office decision-maker responsible for the investigation. The contract calls this person a Liaison Officer. Before commissioning some research the Liaison Officer should be familiar with the standard service agreement. In every instance the Liaison Officer should contact the researcher to confirm the researcher is available to undertake the project within the time required.

Instructions to the researcher

The instructions to a researcher should contain a list of questions to be addressed. Questions can be of a general nature. 'What were the duties of a driver?' Or they can be specific requests for information on incidents the veteran may have referred to in his claim. The researcher should address the questions asked by the Liaison Officer, not the contention put forth by the veteran. The decision-maker is the person to address the veteran's contention.

Proper consideration of the Privacy Act 1988

In supplying a summary of the events described by the veteran the Liaison Officer must take care to be accurate. These events can be quoted from the claim form or from letters from the veteran or previous material concerning the events in question. The Liaison Officer must provide only that part of any clinical history relating to the claimed stressor, trauma, event or occurrence taken by a doctor, psychiatrist or other medical professional. In all cases there must be a proper consideration of the Privacy Act 1988 and the Privacy Principles when preparing a request for a report. Under NO Circumstances is the researcher to be provided with a medical or psychiatric report. Nor should the researcher be informed that events described by the veteran were extracted from a medical or psychiatric report.

Information the researcher needs in order to provide a report

The letter requesting a report must provide a general statement that the report is required for the purpose of determining a claim under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. You must mention the existing contract with the Department of Veterans' Affairs. You should provide a copy of the claimant's/applicant's service details or copies of service documents. For Army service, a copy of Part A of the B103 should be supplied if available since it contains a description of the veteran which helps the researcher identify the veteran if talking to former members of his unit.

sub unit/section

As well as a copy of the service details it would be very helpful to the researcher if details of the claimant's/applicant's sub unit/section and the name of the sub-unit/section commander could be supplied by the Liaison Officer. Such information should be requested from the claimant/applicant or the claimant's/applicant's representative. It is appropriate to advise the claimant/applicant or the claimant's/applicant's representative that a researcher is being commissioned to obtain evidence to support the claimant's/applicant's contention

Information the researcher does not need

The researcher does not need to know the nature of the claim, the purpose of the claim, the diagnosis being investigated or the name or profession of any medical services provider or any medical or claims history. Be careful not to forward copies of any medical reports, or other material, to any researchers that identify the nature of the claim. In disability claim matters the name of the psychiatrist, or indeed whether the history provided is even a clinical history provided to a psychiatrist, must not be revealed to the researchers. These reports often contain personal information on veterans that has no bearing on what the researcher is being asked to research and report on. Privacy Principle 10 requires that only the information necessary for the contracted person to provide the service should be sent.

What the report should contain

The report should be factual and non-judgemental. The researcher should report the evidence based on the materials researched and may comment on whether an event did or did not occur or whether there may be a possibility of such an event not being recorded. The researcher can report all contacts made with other persons as part of the research and the substance of the discussions as they relate to the questions posed.

What the report should not contain

It is not part of any researcher's task to comment on what does or does not constitute an illness, a factor in the Statement of Principles or a term such as “stressor”. That task is reserved solely for the Diagnostic Criteria, the definitions contained within Statements of Principles and the decision-maker. The researcher must not comment on the veteran in any personal or derogatory way. It is not the task of the researcher to make assertions on the veracity of the veteran, the value of his service, the reasons for his actions or the reasons for his claim. Although the researcher may infer what the claim is about it is inappropriate to speculate in the report as to the nature of the claim.

Acceptance of the report

The Liaison Officer should read the report as soon as possible after it is received. Before accepting a report, the Liaison Officer should ensure that the report addresses the questions posed and that the report contains nothing that is irrelevant or offensive to the claimant/applicant. Only the actual report by the researcher should be put on the veteran's file.

Invoices, preliminary reports and correspondence

Invoices, preliminary reports and correspondence with the researcher should never appear on the veteran's file. They are filed specifically for that researcher or on a general file for all researchers. State Offices may be required to report on total costs or numbers of reports sought.

What the decision-maker must do

A decision-maker may refer to the comments of the researcher, the historical record and any evidence provided by the researcher to determine whether the events that a claimant relies upon to satisfy the definition of a “stressor” did or did not occur. However, in respect of the opinion of any researcher, a decision-maker must not simply adopt the researcher's opinion on whether the events did or did not occur without a proper examination of the basis for that opinion. This process is described in the “Decision-making Guidelines” issued by the Repatriation Commission.

Am I obliged to follow this Departmental Instruction?


The Department and the Repatriation Commission are subject to the laws of the Commonwealth and that includes the Privacy Act 1988. As a delegate of the Secretary or the Repatriation Commission you are also subject to those laws..

Am I obliged to follow this Departmental Instruction?


This instruction must be carefully adhered to on every occasion. If this advice is not followed a Claims Investigator or anyone else seeking a report from a researcher may breach of the Privacy Act 1988. In such circumstances that give rise to the suggestion that there may have been a breach of this Instruction or the Privacy Act 1988 the officer concerned may be called on to explain their actions.

There is no room for careless actions to undermine this process. There is no acceptable critical error rate

Managers – Compensation, Income Support, Review and Advocacy

Please ensure this message reaches all of the Claims Investigators, Single Point of Contact Officers, Review Officers and Advocates. It applies to those seeking qualifying service details as well.

Reporting to the Commission, the Minister or the Parliament

Each State must be able to report on all researchers used, their cost and the number of reports sought. This is so that possible questions raised by the Repatriation Commission, the Minister or by any Parliamentary Committee can be answered.

Each State will need to be able to report on breaches of this Instruction. This also requires a report on the handling of the matter and the steps taken to prevent further problems from an individual officer or of Departmental Staff.





6 April 2000