Research and development

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Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) takes a proactive approach in commissioning research to build an evidence base that supports the health and wellbeing needs of Australia's veterans and their families. This also helps identify emerging issues facing the veteran and defence communities and their families, and is integral to developing effective departmental policy, shaping service delivery responses, and evaluating programs and pilots.

DVA's research agenda invests in research across all stages of a veteran's life: serving well, living well and ageing well. This approach is guided by DVA’s Strategic Research Framework 2019-2021 that outlines the analytical and research priorities and principles for DVA, to focus future research and data gathering efforts.

The Strategic Research Framework sets out the principles, objectives and priorities for DVA to facilitate research and evaluation in areas of special strength or need as identified in priority research areas. Targeted research will bridge gaps in our knowledge base, enabling us to better understand the needs of our clients and proactively anticipate future veteran needs and the policies and services to support those needs.

A central objective of the Framework is to ensure that commissioned research results in measurable benefits in terms of policy, program and service impact. As part of the aim to achieve more strategic research investment, DVA is looking to support applied research that:

  • is end-user focused and addresses the needs of veterans and their families
  • results in measurable impact and translation
  • uses existing data sets and research outcomes
  • is collaborative and builds critical mass by drawing on multiple disciplines from multiple research institutions to address challenging research questions

    The Applied Research Program (ARP) is the Department's  funding mechanism for commissioning research. A range of other research, evidence and evaluation activities are funded on the basis of business need, through other funding sources, Strategic Partnerships or Memoranda of Understanding.

    DVA does not facilitate regular funding rounds involving researcher-initiated applications. Research and evaluation activities that are approved by the DVA Research Board, are then procured through open tender, prequalified tender or limited tender arrangements.

    The DVA Research Board includes senior representatives from across DVA and Defence, provides rigorous accountability to DVA research and oversights the development, governance and monitoring of all research activities undertaken or commissioned by DVA.

    As the proportion of the known veteran population in Australia grows, further insights on the demographic features of this population continues to be a priority.

    The six current research priorities, endorsed by the Research Board and revised annually, are:

    • Service Impact:  Understanding the unique impact of serving in the Australian Defence Force, both protective and risk factors, which can influence transition and post-transition outcomes.
    • Occupational Exposures:  Understanding the health impacts of occupational exposure that are uniquely associated with serving in the Australian Defence Force. Exposures include a range of chemical, physical, psycho social hazards, and environmental hazards.
    • Clinical Outcomes:  Identifying healthcare interventions that improve health and quality of life outcomes of veterans and their families.
    • Compensation:  Understanding ways to improve our compensation system, our clients’ interactions with the system and to promote a focus on wellbeing.
    • Suicide:  Understanding the risk factors, impacts of suicide, treatments and preventions. Coverage of research to include whole of veteran population and more vulnerable sub-groups of veterans.
    • Wellbeing:  Understanding key drivers of the differences between veterans and the total population on personal wellbeing and effective ways to promote positive wellbeing changes in veterans.
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    Ethical Approval

    Any new research proposals that relate to current or ex-serving members (veterans) of the Australian Defence Forces should be reviewed by the Departments of Defence and Veterans' Affairs Human Research Ethics Committee (DDVA HREC) for ethical approval.

    The DDVA HREC secretariat can be contacted via ddva.hrec [at] 

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    Health Studies and Social Research

    A listing of DVA's health studies and other social research publications.

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    Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme

    The Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme examined the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of:

    • serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members, including those who have been deployed in contemporary conflicts, and
    • their families.

    For further information visit: Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme.

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