Overview of the DRCA

Last updated: 
14 January 2020

This page provides an overview of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), including who the Act applies to and when to make a claim.

What is the DRCA?

The DRCA is the compensation legislation that applies to current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with conditions linked to service prior to 1 July 2004.

Compensation coverage under the DRCA can be provided for injuries, diseases or deaths that are linked to most peacetime ADF service between 3 January 1949 and 30 June 2004 (which includes British Nuclear Test defence service), as well as hazardous and peacekeeping service during the same period. The DRCA also covers certain periods of operational service between 7 April 1994 and 30 June 2004, including warlike and non-warlike service.

The DRCA does not cover any ADF service prior to 3 January 1949, or any period of operational service prior to 7 April 1994. These types of service are covered under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA). Some members who served for 3 years continuous full-time service with service between 7 December 1972 and 7 April 1994 may have dual coverage under the VEA and DRCA for their peacetime service.

From 12 October 2017, all claims that were considered under the provisions of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) are now considered under the DRCA. All existing claims under the SRCA are now treated as claims under the DRCA. There is no change to existing entitlements or the manner in which claims under the DRCA interact with claims under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and/or the VEA .

All ADF service from 1 July 2004 onwards is covered under the MRCA. For more information about MRCA, see our MRCA overview page.

Who is eligible under the DRCA?

Coverage under the DRCA extends to:

  • all members of the permanent ADF;
  • all members of the Reserve forces;
  • Cadets and Officers and Instructors of Cadets; and
  • other people declared in writing by the Minister who:
    • hold an honorary rank in the ADF;
    • are members of philanthropic organisations which provide services to the ADF; or
    • are undertaking Career Transition Training under an arrangement made by the ADF.

When am I covered under the DRCA?

The DRCA provides compensation coverage for most current and former members of the ADF from 3 January 1949 until and including 30 June 2004.

Service covered includes:

  • being at work or during an ordinary break (e.g. lunch);
  • during a journey between home and work;
  • during authorised and approved activities outside normal hours of duty (e.g. approved participation in sport as detailed in DI(G)PERS 14-2); or
  • while undergoing approved Career Transition Training around the time of your discharge under an arrangement made by the ADF.

Please refer to the ADF Pay and Conditions Manual (PACMAN) on the Department of Defence website for more information: http://www.defence.gov.au/DPE/PAC/

It is important to note that compensation coverage throughout this period has been subject to differing eligibility criteria at various times.

What benefits are available under the DRCA?

If it is determined that there is liability to pay you compensation under the DRCA, there are a range of benefits that you may be eligible for. For an overview of these benefits, please refer to How to claim under DRCA.

Are benefits under the DRCA different to the SRCA?

No. Your entitlement to benefits under the DRCA are exactly the same as those that were available under the SRCA. The DRCA replicates the SRCA and retains the provisions that applied to veterans, current and former ADF members.

Do payments received under the DRCA affect my Disability Pension?

Some people who have served in the ADF may have eligibility for certain types of service under both the DRCA and the VEA. It is important to understand that there are ‘offsetting’ provisions to prevent compensation being provided under the DRCA and also under the VEA for the same injury, disease or incapacity. Any compensation you may receive under the DRCA might affect any Disability Pension or Income Support Pension you receive under the VEA. For further information, please see Disability pension and compensation offsetting

When should I make a claim under the DRCA?

No formal time limits apply under DRCA for lodging claims. However, it is in your interests to lodge a claim for compensation as soon as possible if you believe an injury or disease from which you suffer is related to your ADF service. The longer between the injury (or onset of a disease) and lodgment of a claim, the more difficult it will generally be to substantiate the claim as medical and other evidence may not be readily available.

How do I make a claim under the DRCA?

For details of how to claim benefits under the DRCA, please refer to How to claim under the DRCA.

Are civilians supporting the ADF covered under the DRCA?

No. Civilians supporting the ADF, who are Commonwealth, state or territory government employees will continue to have coverage under their existing statutory workers’ compensation cover. For Commonwealth employees, this continues to be the SRCA.

Where other civilians provide support to the ADF, for example war artists or entertainers, then the Minister for Defence may request the Minister for Employment to make a determination under subsection 5(6) of the DRCA for a class of persons who:

  • have accompanied or deployed with the ADF and are working closely with or for the benefit of the ADF for a period; and
  • have no statutory workers’ compensation cover or access to other statutory workers’ compensation scheme at the time of them accompanying or deploying with the ADF.

What is Non-Liability Health Care?

Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) is not part of the DRCA, but is a separate entitlement which provides treatment for certain medical conditions without requiring a link to military service. Anyone who served as a full-time ADF member (and certain reservists) have coverage for all mental health conditions. Treatment for cancer (malignant neoplasia) and pulmonary tuberculosis may also be available, depending on the circumstances and timing of a person's service.

For overview of the NLHC arrangements including eligibility criteria, please see: