IVES has been operating in the Illawarra since 2001. We are predominately working with RSL Sub Branches from Helensburgh, taking in all suburbs within the Shires of Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama down to Gerringong. We have fielded clients from as far away as Victoria and most Metropolitan and Western Regional areas of NSW. We now operate from four locations in the Illawarra sharing office space with:
In 2008 we were the 3rd biggest Ex Service organisation delivering advocacy services in NSW.
We started operating in 2001 and since have:
- Woonona Bulli RSL Sub Branch
- Wollongong VAN office
- Albion Park RSL Sub Branch
- Gerringong RSL Sub Branch
Our Pension Officers, Advocates and members who:
- Become incorporated and are over-sighted by Department of Fair Trading,
- Obtained tax office charity status,
- Have Deductible Gift Recipient status with Tax Office
- Gained the trust and support from every Illawarra Ex Service Organisation,
- Had successful BEST grants since starting out,
- Had financial backing from a large portion of Illawarra ESO's
- Never charge any client any FEE
- Maintained very high morale with our volunteers.
- Maintained Volunteer accident insurance policies
- Maintained Pension Officers 'Indemnity' policies (under VITA)
We have two hired assistants at 10 and 5 hours each week:
- Are representative of most of the Illawarra ESO'S
- 8 are rostered pension officers at various offices in the Illawarra.
- There are 4 trained advocates two of which are level 4 status,
- 3 are Advocates who represent clients at the Veterans Review Board.
- Participate in organised 'Mentoring' as pension officers and Advocates
- Look after each other and share the work load
One of our most successful projects to date is our 42 56 1945 phone in 'Message Bank' Service. We can now match clients throughout the overall region with a Pension officer near to their home. We can organise a home visit or appointments at one of four offices in the Illawarra.
- Position One - Manages a dedicated phone in Message Bank (02 42 56 1945) responding to calls from all over the Illawarra and organising clients to visit pension officers at one of 4 different locations. Home visits are also organised for the mobility impaired and client phone inquiries are followed up until resolution.
(Mrs. Lynn Wicks is your contact person)
- Position Two - Manages all data bases, filings and co ordinates case management systems.
(Mrs. Jolanda Fensom is your contact person)
Our Focus has been on supporting the Voluntary Ex Service Organisation Pension Officer or advocate by:
Our strategies have not changed since our origin. Our core business has always been to support the pension officer and when those strategies are in place, the client also gains considerable benefit.
- Ensuring our advocates can be communicated with readily
- Having mentoring arrangements in place for new pension officers
- Policy of passing difficult cases upwards to experienced people
- Foster opportunities for pension officers to observe Advocates working
- Keeping all parties in the loop as to progress of cases
- Regularly take pension officers to the VRB as observers
- Never refusing cases. (chances of success is not deciding factor)
- Not being involved in lobbying and being neutral with ESO issues
- Sharing equipment resources throughout the pension officer network
- Maintaining high morale and direction with volunteers.
- Maintaining good case management systems and volunteer support
The Illawarra has solid foundations with delivering Pension Officer and Advocate Services to the Veteran Community. With support from all ESO's we are able to remain in the loop and give direct assistance in many ways.
IVES executive members have briefed other Regional Groups who have seen the need to foster a UNIFORMED approach in Veteran's Claim Assistance. These have been Southern Highlands, Nowra, Gosford - Central Coast and in April we briefed a network at Foster Tuncurry who are desirous to form an 'Advocacy Office'.
In October 2008, on invitation we addressed the Hunter District and North Coast District Pensions and Welfare yearly Seminar on how IVES operates.
Our formula (strategies) for working in a co-operative manner with all Ex Service Organisations has been very successful. It is obvious that all pension and advocacy volunteers need to support themselves with each others experiences. We all learn from each other.
Since ROUND 10 BEST Grants (commencing 1 July 2008), we have visited the South Coast to Batemans Bay and the South West to Canberra from our base at Albion Park.
We have been well received and all of us have identified the need to assist each other in matters of Pension Entitlements and Advocacy.
In the last seven years there has been no fewer then 3 RSL Sub Branches who have found themselves, through no fault of their own, without a pension officer or an advocate. In every case the Sub Branch had numerous clients or existing case loads that needed these services.
IVES has stepped in and taken over all of the clients in each instance and followed up with assistance to the sub branch to foster and mentor a new pension offer within their ranks. The winner is the client who has an ongoing case that needs to be prepared or represented.
IVES is always welcomed in the existing networks because it is a GUILD of experienced people who will back up and stand beside the voluntary pension officer or advocate in any Ex Service organisation.
We are an organisation that uses the skills of its volunteers to the best advantage.
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