Exploring future service needs of Australian Defence Force Reservists


DVA commissioned this study in 2011 to gain a better understanding of the experiences of reservists. The field-based component of the study consisted of face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with 39 ADF reservists, primarily from the Army with a smaller number from the Air Force. The text-based component centred on a review of the academic literature, as well as a review of historical documents and an inventory of support services available to reservists.

The study found that reservists vary in the way they understand their reservist identity. Some identify more with a ‘full-timer’ identity and feel a close connection with ADF membership and military skills, while some identify more as a ‘part-timer’ and place stronger emphasis on their civilian professional skills. The researcher found that the extent to which reservists identify with the ADF can affect outcomes including their health and wellbeing, cohesion with their unit and accessing of support services.

The reservists study has provided DVA with useful information about the experiences and needs of a sample of contemporary reservists. As a qualitative pilot study, the report is exploratory in nature. It does not quantify the extent to which the views expressed by the participants would be shared among reservists and reservist veterans more generally. Nevertheless, the report provides a useful understanding of issues experienced by the reservists interviewed and identified in the academic literature.

The report has informed DVA’s understanding of how reservists identify and the potential implications of this for DVA’s communication and engagement with reservists. It has also informed a focus on reservists in planning future DVA research. On 11 June 2014, the Government announced a joint DVA/Defence Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme which includes a nested study on reservists.

    Reservists can access similar DVA support and services to those available to Permanent ADF members. For details on reservists’ entitlements, please see DVA website and/or the Claims for reservists. Reservists who are in doubt about what DVA services or support they could access are encouraged to contact DVA.

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