Defence and peacekeeping service under the VEA

Last updated: 
15 January 2020

This page provides an overview of the types of defence and peacekeeping service (other than service in wartime and other operational service) that is covered under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).

Defence service

Defence service is a specific service type under the VEA. It means certain service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) during peacetime. You have eligible defence service under the VEA if:

  • you completed at least three years continuous full-time service by 7 April 1994; and
  • part (or all) of that service was on or after 7 December 1972.

There are two exceptions to this three year service requirement:

  • if you were a national serviceman who was serving on 7 December 1972 and you chose to complete your service obligation; or
  • you were discharged early on medical grounds.

In most cases, eligible defence service coverage ends on 7 April 1994. However, if you rendered an unbroken period of full-time ADF service beginning on or before 22 May 1986, all of your service is covered by the VEA up to 1 July 2004. This is the date on which the new Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) commenced.

British Nuclear Test Defence service

The VEA sets out a detailed definition of who is a British Nuclear Test participant for the purposes of the VEA. Generally, coverage is provided to ADF members who were present in a test area when atomic weapons trials were taking place, or who were involved in activities directly relating to the testing, such as decontamination of vehicles and equipment. For more information, please see Service covered under the VEA

Peacekeeping service

Under the VEA, a member of a Peacekeeping Force is a person who is serving or has served with a Peacekeeping Force outside Australia as an Australian member of a peacekeeping force, or as a member of an Australian contingent of a peacekeeping force.

Peacekeeping forces are either listed in Schedule 3 of the VEA, or defined in written determinations issued by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. Peacekeeping Forces can include certain members of Territory, State and Federal police services as well as ADF members.

It is important to note that some ADF service which is commonly regarded as peacekeeping may be classified differently under the VEA (generally as non-warlike service), and although certain peacekeeping service by Police members continues to be covered under the VEA after 1 July 2004, ADF service on or after 1 July 2004 is covered under the MRCA.

Hazardous service

The hazardous service classification applies to periods of service that have been designated by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs by written legislative instrument. Hazardous service applies to service on a number of overseas deployments which were not in wartime, conflicts or contributions to peacekeeping operations, but which involved an elevated level of risk or danger.

What am I eligible for?

If you are a current or former ADF member who rendered any of the types of service listed above, or are a police officer who served in a declared Peacekeeping Force, as set out in a Ministerial determination or in Schedule 3 of the VEA, you may receive disability compensation pension and treatment for any injury or disease accepted as related to your relevant service. You may also be eligible to receive treatment for all malignant cancers, any mental health condition and certain other conditions regardless of whether or not they are related to your service.

The types of service described in this page do not give eligibility for qualifying service. This means that they do not confer eligibility for the service pension or automatic entitlement to the Veteran Gold Card at age 70.

Treatment under the VEA is provided through a Veteran White Card or, if you have a high level of service-related impairment, a Veteran Gold Card. A Veteran White Card allows you to receive treatment for your accepted disabilities, as well as certain conditions under Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) treatment arrangements. If you are in receipt of a disability pension at 100% of the general rate or more, you would also be eligible for a Veteran Gold Card which provides treatment for all medical conditions.

Can I claim compensation under both the VEA and the DRCA?

Yes. All of the types of ADF service described in this page are covered under both the VEA and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA). Police officers are not able to claim under the DRCA with DVA, but do have similar coverage under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, administered by Comcare. However, you should be aware that Commonwealth legislation precludes you from receiving compensation in respect of the same injury or disease from two different sources. This means that claims made under both Acts may be offset.

If you receive compensation under the DRCA and are then granted benefits under the VEA in respect of the same injury or disease, the disability pension may be significantly reduced (or not paid at all) depending on the amount of compensation you received.

The choice of whether to claim under the VEA or the DRCA, or both, is a matter entirely for you to decide, and there are a number of issues you will need to consider. You should consider the benefits that each Act offers, and perhaps talk to a financial advisor, before you decide.