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Snapshot of the veteran community

At 30 June 2018, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) supported more than 282,000 clients, some through health treatment card entitlements (Gold Card or White Card) and some through other benefits and services.

Overall, Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) client numbers have continued to decline; there has been a 27 per cent reduction in service pensioners over the past four years and a 15 per cent reduction in disability pensioners. This will continue: service pensioner numbers are forecast to decline by 41 per cent and disability pensioner numbers by 15 per cent over the next decade.

In contrast, the number of veterans with an accepted initial liability under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) continues to rise. Over the past four years, the number of veterans with an accepted initial liability under the DRCA or its predecessor, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA), has increased by 5 per cent, and the number of MRCA veterans has increased by 77 per cent. This overall increase is also shown in the increasing numbers of DRCA and MRCA payments and benefits being accessed, such as an increase of 178 per cent in the number of MRCA veterans who have received a permanent impairment payment.

Despite the significant growth in numbers of MRCA clients, the number of new clients from the VEA, MRCA or SRCA/DRCA has not significantly impacted the overall downward trend in DVA client numbers.

Detailed statistics about the veteran population are published on the DVA website each quarter at statistics.

Tables 1 to 4 provide additional details of DVA clients, including those receiving certain payments, over time.

Table 1: Clients by age group and location at 30 June 2018
Age NSW VIC QLD SA WA TAS NT ACT Overseas Total
1.  Clients of unknown age are included in the totals only; therefore, these totals are not the sums of the columns.

Note: Includes any person who is in receipt of a pension/allowance from DVA or who is eligible for treatment or pharmaceuticals paid for by DVA.

Under 25 1,080 591 1,953 254 398 121 147 175 24 4,743
25–29 1,375 671 2,050 368 411 102 246 198 26 5,447
30–34 1,798 895 2,569 406 705 151 296 259 43 7,122
35–39 2,062 1,112 2,840 500 873 262 306 344 71 8,370
40–44 2,259 1,299 3,373 558 956 267 285 400 92 9,489
45–49 3,126 1,760 4,519 782 1,430 382 368 586 139 13,092
50–54 3,009 1,828 4,066 801 1,370 383 281 585 149 12,472
55–59 3,430 2,094 4,669 995 1,435 425 247 666 145 14,106
60–64 4,531 2,854 5,505 1,402 1,811 586 151 542 148 17,530
65–69 9,395 6,237 10,630 3,134 3,551 1,110 228 766 218 35,269
70–74 11,585 7,831 12,468 3,563 4,457 1,355 226 980 321 42,786
75–79 5,313 2,971 5,756 1,261 2,134 547 101 544 147 18,774
80–84 5,345 3,076 4,528 1,199 1,952 530 50 490 130 17,300
85–89 8,216 5,491 5,439 2,033 2,317 749 49 452 129 24,875
90 or over 17,122 12,396 9,645 4,798 4,476 1,412 45 696 265 50,855
Total1 79,666 51,129 80,022 22,063 28,288 8,384 3,027 7,687 2,048 282,314

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Table 2: Numbers of benefit recipients by type of benefit 2013–14 to 2017–18
  30 June 2014 30 June 2015 30 June 2016 30 June 2017 30 June 2018
MRCA = Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, POW = prisoner of war, DRCA = Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (previously the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988), SSA = Social Security Act 1991, VEA = Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1985
  1. The population of veterans, war widows and widowers and dependants who have been determined to be eligible for medical treatment under DVA-administered legislation.
  2. Veteran payment commenced in May 2018.
  3. POW Recognition Supplement is a payment that provides special recognition of surviving former Australian prisoners of war, both veteran and civilian. The payment commenced in September 2011.
  4. Clients who have received a commuted or periodic (MRCA only) payment.

Note: As veterans can have disabilities accepted under multiple Acts, these numbers cannot be summed.

Treatment population1 217,562 208,181 200,245 193,968 190,967
Gold Card 163,578 153,033 143,635 135,263 128,517
White Card 53,984 55,148 56,610 58,705 62,450
VEA pensions and allowances
Service pension total 136,138 126,647 118,174 106,970 99,939
  • veterans
71,266 66,016 61,504 55,641 52,011
  • partners
64,902 60,631 56,670 51,329 47,928
Income support supplement 61,463 56,725 52,292 47,036 42,464
SSA age pension 3,833 3,658 3,538 3,380 3,225
Veteran payment2 n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 159
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card 5,150 4,698 4,321 7,222 4,098
Disability pension 101,059 96,493 92,374 88,974 85,811
War widow/ers pension 81,531 75,536 69,960 64,500 59,001
POW Recognition Supplement3 513 387 299 217 165
Orphan’s pension 177 173 150 157 155
Attendant allowance 457 403 353 304 273
Rent assistance 16,804 15,639 14,694 13,580 12,683
Remote area allowance 803 741 697 648 648
Decoration allowance 414 378 328 289 261
Recreation transport allowance 1,262 1,087 936 802 716
Vehicle Assistance Scheme 53 43 48 52 43
Funeral benefit 5,720 5,211 4,709 4,175 3,704
Veterans’ Children Education Scheme 2,443 2,331 2,288 2,243 2,229
Clothing allowance 511 449 398 348 322
Military compensation payments
Permanent impairment (DRCA)4 12,091 12,516 12,852 13,400 14,150
Permanent impairment (MRCA)4 4,467 6,021 7,659 9,544 12,414
Incapacity payments (DRCA) 1,867 1,807 1,777 1,792 1,874
Incapacity payments (MRCA) 2,062 2,484 2,689 3,218 3,893
Wholly dependent partner (MRCA)4 73 86 91 105 124
Eligible young person (MRCA)4 85 91 97 114 128
MRCA Education and Training Scheme 100 153 203 246 390
Defence Service Homes          
Homes insured 65,292 62,127 58,825 55,838 53,641
Housing loan subsidies 12,799 10,296 8,322 6,669 4,960

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Table 3: Numbers of veterans with accepted disability by Act 2013–14 to 2017–18
  30 June 2014 30 June 2015 30 June 2016 30 June 2017 30 June 2018
1. Previously the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.
Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 104,874 100,135 95,983 92,328 89,452
Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation
Defence-related Claims) Act 1988
1
50,153 50,689 51,320 51,956 52,528
Military Rehabilitation and
Compensation Act 2004
16,710 19,538 22,305 25,551 29,577

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Table 4: Estimated numbers of living veterans 2013–14 to 2017–18
  30 June 2014 30 June 2015 30 June 2016 30 June 2017 30 June 2018
ADF = Australian Defence Force, FESR = Far East Strategic Reserve, MRCA = Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, VEA = Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1985
  1. Based on nominal roll data.
  2. Where the veteran has service in more than one conflict, they are recorded by most recent conflict.
  3. Based on nominal roll data.
  4. Includes East Timor, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  5. Peacetime Defence Force from 1972 to 1994 only. Figures are based on amortised Department of Defence data.
  6. Total Australian ex-service personnel eligible under the VEA. It is the sum of the preceding categories less any overlaps. This total excludes those who served in the ADF without service in a conflict and/or peacetime service not between 1972 and 1994. It also excludes British Commonwealth and Allied veterans.
  7. The figures shown here are the balance not covered by the VEA. A research project was initiated to estimate all living persons with post-1945 full-time service in the ADF. By necessity, input data was obtained from different sources:
    • Age profile at recruitment is graphically estimated from Hoglin, Phillip J 2012, Early separation in the Australian Defence Force, p. 39.
    • National service recruitment data are sourced from the Australian Defence Association’s 2018 discussion paper National Service—Have a debate but make sure it is an informed one.
    • The full-time enlistments data for each year from 1975 to 1998 were measured graphically from Beaumont, J 2001, The Australian centenary history of defence, vol. 6, Australian defence: sources and statistics, p. 252.
    • The full-time enlistments data for each year from 1996 to 2017 were sourced from published Department of Defence annual reports obtained from the Department of Defence website.
    • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) mortality rates are used. Numbers are calculated by amalgamating successive years of recruits from 1945 onwards and amortising the resulting population.
  8. Includes all living persons who have ever served as reservists in the ADF with neither continuous full-time nor qualifying service. Reservists were not included in previous versions of this table as they were not eligible under the VEA. Figures are derived from Department. of Defence data and ABS mortality rates.
  9. he growth in MRCA veterans and the expansion of benefits to the widest possible number of ex-service ADF personnel necessitated redefinition of the total to include those who were not otherwise eligible under the VEA. This figure includes all living persons who have ever served in the ADF either full time or as reservists.
Second World War1 48,300 39,500 31,700 25,000 19,300
Korean War, Malayan Emergency and FESR2 13,000 12,300 11,700 11,000 10,300
Vietnam War3 45,200 44,300 43,400 42,500 41,500
Other pre-1972 conflicts 6,000 5,700 5,400 5,000 4,700
Cambodia, Gulf War, Namibia, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Bougainville 10,500 10,400 10,400 10,300 10,300
Post-1999 conflicts4 58,000 58,300 58,400 58,300 58,200
Peacetime Defence Force5 151,800 150,400 149,000 147,400 145,800
Total service with VEA eligibility6 331,200 319,500 308,600 298,200 288,700
Other full-time service post-19457 255,700 255,800 254,800 253,900 252,500
Reserve8 96,100 96,800 97,700 98,900 100,000
Total Australian service9 683,000 672,200 661,100 651,000 641,300
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