Spotlight: DSP Help by Social Security Rights Victoria

Each month, we spotlight one of our favourite Josef bots

This month, we’re sharing Social Security Rights Victoria’s Disability Support Pension bot, which helps people navigate the Disability Support Pension application system.

We sat down with Social Security Rights Victoria (SSRV) Principal Bryn Overend, to discuss the Disability Support Pension (DSP) bot, DSP Help.

What does the DSP Help bot do? 

The DSP bot is designed for anyone who is considering applying for the DSP. The bot gathers information from the applicant and produces a document that can then be taken to their clinician or doctor, so they can then write accurate and high-quality medical evidence that will address the individual’s very unique DSP criteria. 

Why did you decide to build it? Where did the idea for this bot come from?

The current process of applying for the DSP is complex and convoluted. You are required to fill in a large form or do the application online. While there is information on the Services Australia website to assist people in applying, we have found that many people still come to us – often after having already applied – without a proper understanding of what is required to demonstrate eligibility for the DSP. In particular, people rarely understand the specific requirements for supporting medical documentation they need to get from their clinician or doctor. 

Without being able to understand key terms and requirements, and then be able to share this information with the clinicians, their chances for success are dramatically reduced. For example, there are key words such as ‘fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised’ that an applicant and their clinician need to understand. There are also multiple ‘impairment tables’ and an applicant has to find and pick the correct impairment table so their doctor can write a report or letter that addresses the specific criteria within those tables. The bot came from a need to effectively address this issue: to empower DSP applicants and those assisting them.

Bryn Overend, Principal at Social Security Rights Victoria

Bryn Overend, Principal at Social Security Rights Victoria

Given the complexities of this process, what’s the common scenario you see for people applying for the DSP?

Unfortunately, many people aren’t successful the first time they apply. Despite applying on a number of occasions and over a significant period of time – sometimes waiting for several months for their application to be processed – people still don’t have a comprehensive picture of what is required to demonstrate that they are, in fact, eligible. They get drip fed information and often they’ll get knocked back, application after application, because they don’t meet certain, little requirements.

One issue is that clinicians often don’t have the time or capacity to sit down and stay on top of the specific criteria required by DSP applications because it’s so complex and convoluted. Even if a person’s clinician is supportive of the person getting onto the DSP, the clinician will often not understand what exactly is required in getting the right supporting medical documentation for a DSP application.

“More than 40% of people who contact us for legal assistance or advice are calling in relation to the DSP. We have hundreds and hundreds of people calling us on a regular basis.”
– Bryn Overend

How many people reach out to the SSRV for assistance and how did you assist them previously?

More than 40% of people who contact us for legal assistance or advice are calling in relation to the DSP. We have hundreds and hundreds of people calling us on a regular basis. Our DSP Toolkit has previously been used to assist clients. It is a tool based on tens of PDF or Word documents covering all of the many different impairment tables and their severity ratings. It is a useful tool, and is still available on our website.

However, we see DSP Help, and the bot in particular, as taking advantage of new legal tech and design to make it easier for individuals to get tailored information, to narrow down the particular impairment tables that they specifically need, and to equip their doctors and clinicians with the tools they require to effectively assist their clients in getting onto the DSP.

We are really excited about what the bot can do.

What was the impact of using Josef to build this bot?

Josef is a fantastic tool.

We worked closely with Paper Giant and Josef to create our DSP Help platform. This is an entire, dedicated platform with all of the information addressing all aspects of the DSP. Applicants can simply type their responses into the bot directly, like talking to another person. It’s very intuitive and simple. In terms of the design and presentation, this is a big step up from where we were at.

“Hopefully DSP Help can dramatically scale-up the number of people we can assist, and assist them as soon as possible.”
– Bryn Overend

How has the bot helped you achieve your mission? And what’s next for the SSRV?

Hopefully DSP Help can dramatically scale-up the number of people we can assist, and assist them as soon as possible.

Our bot is an important step in our work to capture the ‘missing middle’ of Australians living with disability and the people supporting them. We’re capturing feedback so we can continue to refine the product and make it as useful, user-friendly and accessible as possible.

At SSRV we are striving to make law more accessible and to help secure and protect all Victorians’ right to social security entitlements. But, we also know the DSP is an Australia-wide benefit. So, through this bot, we won’t just be providing assistance to more Victorians, but hopefully to more Australians.

The DSP Help Steering Committee in action. From L-R: Dermott Williams (DSP Help community lawyer), Hannah Mitchell (Paper Giant), Bryn Overend (SSRV), and Len Jaffit (Victoria Legal Aid)

The DSP Help Steering Committee in action. From L-R: Dermott Williams (DSP Help community lawyer), Hannah Mitchell (Paper Giant), Bryn Overend (SSRV), and Len Jaffit (Victoria Legal Aid)

SSRV is a specialist community legal centre that provides information, advice and representation about Centrelink payments and decisions.

The bot is a key component of the DSP Help website (www.dsphelp.org.au), which was designed by strategic design consultancy Paper Giant and SSRV, with funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner Grants Program.

If you’re interested in exploring how bots can help you scale your services, book a time to speak to one of our experts.

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