Claims for certain submarine special operations

Last updated: 
25 November 2020

This page provides information to members and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who served on submarine special operations between January 1978 and 12 May 1997 on their entitlements under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).

Are all submarine operations between 1978 and 1997 considered 'operational or qualifying service'?

Not all service on a submarine is considered to be submarine special operations. Only submarine special operations for which a person has received, or is eligible for, the Australian Service Medal (ASM) with Clasp ‘SPECIAL OPS’ is considered ‘operational and qualifying service’ under the VEA.

What if I served on more than one submarine special operation?

Each submarine special operation for which you were eligible to be awarded the ASM with clasp ‘SPECIAL OPS’, or would have been awarded the clasp had you not already received one, during the period 1978-97 is considered ‘operational and qualifying service’.

What if I was affected by the re-classification of submarine special operations service between 1 January 1993 and 12 May 1997?

The Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Partner Service Pension and Other Measures) Act 2019 resulted in special submarine operations between 1 January 1993 and 12 May 1997 being re-classified from ‘peacetime service’ to ‘operational and qualifying service’ under the VEA. Prior to the passage of the Act, only service on submarine special operations between 1 January 1978 and 31 December 1992 was considered ‘operational and qualifying service’.

Should you have served on submarine Special Operations between 1 January 1993 and 12 May 1997 then, you will now be eligible for the benefits described below.

What benefits are available to veterans who served on submarine special operations?

The classification of certain submarine special operations as 'operational and qualifying service' means that eligible veterans can claim disability pension under the VEA and are able to receive healthcare services for their accepted disabilities. Disability pension claims relating to relevant submarine special operations service are determined using the more generous ‘reasonable hypothesis’ standard of proof.

Qualifying service provisions means that eligible veterans qualify for a Veteran Gold Card at age 70, and they (and their partners) may be eligible for a service pension (or partner service pension), subject to the relevant income and assets tests.

In addition, veterans with service on relevant submarine special operations are eligible to receive treatment for certain conditions, regardless of whether or not they are related to service. Veterans with service on relevant operations may receive treatment for any mental health condition, and for malignant cancers or pulmonary tuberculosis. For further information, please see Free mental health care for veterans and Cover for cancer and tuberculosis.

Do I also have access to compensation under the DRCA?

If you already had a claim accepted prior to 1 July 2010 and have been paid compensation under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), these entitlements will remain.


From 1 July 2010, no further claims have been able to be made under the DRCA in respect of submarine special operations between 1 January 1978 and 31 December 1992. This is because there is no dual entitlement under the DRCA for operational service during this period. Following a recent expansion, this now extends to service up to 6 April 1994.


For claims relating to submarine special operations between the period 7 April 1994 to 12 May 1997, submariners can have dual eligibility under both the VEA and the DRCA. However, if the same condition is claimed under both Acts, offsetting will apply.

Will compensation I have received under the DRCA be taken into account?

Yes. Any compensation you have already received under the provisions of the DRCA will be offset against compensation paid under the VEA for the same incapacity.

What sort of evidence do I need to provide to show that I participated in a submarine special operation?

Since eligibility for benefits under the VEA is determined according to eligibility for the ASM with Clasp 'SPECIAL OPS', you will need to provide evidence that you have been awarded this medal, or are eligible for this medal. Please note that you must have become eligible for this medal as a result of your participation in submarine special operations during the relevant period.

DVA will confirm your eligibility with the Department of Defence.

What if I am eligible for the ASM with Clasp Special Ops, but the award has not been issued?

You need only to be eligible for the award of the ASM with Clasp 'SPECIAL OPS' to have entitlements under the VEA. Having actually been issued the medal is not required.

However, if you would like to apply for your medal to be issued, please contact Defence Honours and Awards on their Medals Inquiry Line: 1800 111 321.

What if I served on a submarine after 12 May 1997?

Not all submarine service is classified as operational and qualifying service. From 13 May 1997, all ADF service is classified as warlike, non-warlike or peacetime service. If a submariner served on an operation which had been declared as warlike or non-warlike, they may be eligible for a range of benefits from DVA. After 13 May 1997, certain service on submarines has been classified as non-warlike or as peacetime service depending on the type of operation.