The Dubbo Regional Council has apologised to a woman who was denied a veterans discount on her rates bill despite holding a valid gold card.
Deputy mayor Stephen Lawrence said as soon as he was made aware of the issue it was "sorted out".
Dubbo ratepayer Robyn Carey said she had significant issues getting the Dubbo Regional Council to accept her DVA gold card for a pension rebate on her rates. Mrs Carey said the problem arose because her current address was not listed as being eligible for a veterans discount.
"I have been to the council four times since August 2019 without success," she said.
"I was advised by the Department of Veterans Affairs that my address had been updated since early August and there is no reason for the council not to be able to see this information. However, the council kept telling me the address was listed in its system as my old address.
"They also advised me on numerous occasions to contact Centrelink. I politely tried multiple times to explain my pension is not through Centrelink, but a DVA gold card issued to me in 2016 for the service my beloved late husband provided to our country. I am happy the council now say the correct information is in their system."
"It is great to see this ratepayer's situation sorted out," Cr Lawrence said.
"I would encourage any ratepayer who has a vet discount entitlement to look into it and to make sure they are taking advantage of it. Our systems don't necessarily let us know if you have an entitlement and so the obligation does fall on the ratepayer, so the council knows about their eligibility.
"This is an excellent opportunity to get the message out that veterans do have this entitlement and those that have served need to make sure they understand what they're entitled to.
"Council always endeavours to get it right in situations where we may have got it wrong."
FULL STATEMENT FROM Mr Craig Griffin, Director Organisational Performance, Dubbo Regional Council.
Dubbo Regional Council's policy of processing pension rebates DRC requires a Centrelink verification check to be completed to ensure eligibility. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) cards are also checked and verified in the same manner as Centrelink cards noting they are two separate Commonwealth agencies.
When the customer attended DRC Customer Experience on 16/10/2019 and presented their application for council pensioner concession rates rebate, a check was completed which resulted in a failed address result. DRC's Customer Experience officer explained that the customer would need to update her address with the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow the check to pass and for the rebate to be applied.
After providing this advice to the customer, noting Council has no control of over the updating/currency of information held by Commonwealth agencies, DRC Customer Experience staff completed an additional check on 17/10/2019 - in the hope the customer had contacted the Australian Government agencies - which again failed due to the address not being update in the Department of Human Services system.
While the council records of the customer's address were updated on 23/08/2019, the update through DVA has taken longer. A check was completed today (28/10/2019) which resulted in a positive result for the address change and the application was proceeded this morning with the rebate applied.
It's a legal requirement that Council undertake these checks with both Commonwealth agencies before an entitlement like this can be processed for our customers. While the delay experienced by our customer was well out of Council's control, DRC is well aware of, and sympathetic to, the overall experience our customer has gone through and appreciate their patience as these compulsory Commonwealth checks were undertaken.
To further assist our customer, the Manager of DRC's Customer Experience called the customer this morning to advise them the validation process has been completed by the Commonwealth agencies and the DVA rebate has been granted and applied.
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