RSL Australia recently launched the Veterans' Catalogue App, which is supposed to help veterans find support services. However, upon closer inspection, the app is merely a search engine that locates services in the geographic area specified. It fails to offer a single contact point for veterans to access additional support if needed. As a self-help platform, the app cannot guide veterans to services they may not realise they need. Perhaps most crucially, it also fails to link the user to a case management process that takes a holistic view of the veteran and other people that may be important, such as their families. Overall, the app is hyped up as a solution but fails to deliver anything of substance to the veteran community.
The RSL Veterans' Catalogue App claims to be an innovative web application designed to alleviate the complexities of finding the right services or support available to Defense members, veterans, and their families here in Australia. The app is little more than a glorified Google search, leaving it to the user to work out what the service providers do, decide if they are any good, and take the first step in their self-referral. While the RSL's efforts to embrace the cutting-edge technology of the '90s is appreciated, there's nothing particularly inspiring about what they have delivered.
Yellow Pages on Steroids
Suppose you are a veteran living in your local area looking for assistance to overcome a minor financial crisis, such as needing to pay for school fees and uniforms. You enter the requested information and press the financial support and planning button. The app returns an A-Z list of RSL sub-branches, Australian Military Bank branches, and Legacy Clubs. So far, not-so-empowering. You then narrow the search to your local area, but the app suggests only a few options. You have to click on the link for each one, only to be shown where it is on a map, along with a brief description of the organisation and its contact information.
The RSL Veterans' Catalogue App fails to provide guidance or valuable recommendations. Instead, the user is left to sift through the information independently. What's worse is the missed opportunity to offer an accessible contact point for support. There is no chatbot or even a simple prompt to initiate contact. In this regard, the RSL Veterans' Catalogue App is overlooking a crucial touchpoint for engagement.
Moreover, the app is embedded in the RSL Australia website and therefore isn't open to public user reviews like other apps (hence the inspiration for this review). Despite the RSL's efforts to provide a platform for veterans to access support services, it is vital to consider the broader needs of the veteran community beyond just a list of service providers. By not providing more guidance or support, the RSL Veterans' Catalogue App fails to meet the needs of those who it is trying to serve.
I hope the RSL will come to terms with its role as a national voice for veterans and focus its attention on promoting strategic change within the veteran services sector. Sponsoring apps is cute, but so is setting up a cake stand. Veterans require more than just a list of service providers; they need a coordinated model for case management and someone to champion cooperation between the organisations that have the verified capability to address the needs of the ex-services sector.