Statements of principles

Last updated: 
14 January 2020

This page provides a brief description of the Statements of Principles (SoPs) used in determining claims for liability for injuries, diseases and deaths under both the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

What are Statements of Principles?

The SoPs are legislative instruments that set out the factors which can connect particular injuries, diseases or death with service. SoPs are determined by the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA). SoPs alone set out what factors could cause a medical condition that is the subject of a claim. In order for a claim to succeed at least one of the SoP factors must be related to service.

There are two SoPs for each condition:

  • one for determining claims relating to operational (including warlike and non-warlike), peacekeeping, hazardous and British nuclear test service; and
  • one for determining claims relating to other eligible service.

This is because the different types of service attract different standards of proof for determining claims.

How to obtain a SoP?

SoPs are available on the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) website at www.rma.gov.au.

How are SoPs used?

SoPs are used in determining liability for injuries, diseases and deaths under both the VEA and MRCA. The SoPs are legally binding on all decision makers.

All decision makers must decide whether any of the factors in the SoP for the condition being investigated apply to the person making the claim. If one of the factors applies, then the decision maker must see if it is also connected to the service of the claimant. In order for a claim to succeed, at least one of the SoP factors must be related to service.

SoPs do not apply to claims under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA).

What is the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA)?

The RMA is an independent statutory authority responsible to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. The Authority consists of five practitioners eminent in fields of medical science. The role of the RMA is to:

  • determine whether there is sound medical-scientific evidence that links particular kinds of injury, disease or death with war or defence service; and
  • reflect the causal links in legally binding Statements of Principles (SoPs), which are disallowable Instruments tabled in Parliament.

The RMA does not have any role in assessing an individual’s claim for benefits, which is the responsibility of the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

How are SoPs made or changed?

The RMA determines the SoPs after extensive investigations of the medical literature and research available worldwide. The SoPs are then tabled in both Houses of the Australian Parliament and notified in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. A notification is published on the RMA website. Major ex-service organisations, and anyone who has registered an interest in the investigation of the SoP, are also informed. Changes to SoPs are also automatically advised to the RMA’s subscriber list.

Each SoP contains the date on which it takes effect. The SoPs remain law unless either House of the Australian Parliament disallows them or they are revoked by the RMA.

The RMA keeps the SoPs as up to date as possible by keeping abreast of current medical research. New and revised SoPs are generally issued every two months and SoPs are regularly reviewed.

Requests to create a new SoP or to review a SoP can be made to the RMA by:

  • veterans;
  • serving and former members of the ADF;
  • eligible dependants;
  • ex-service organisations;
  • the Repatriation Commission; or
  • the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

How do I request changes to a SoP?

A request can be made to review some or all of the contents of a SoP, and should indicate any information available in support of the request. A request must be made on an RMA form and lodged with the RMA.

These forms are available from the RMA by:

Phone: (07) 3815 9404

RMA email: info [at] rma.gov.au

RMA website: www.rma.gov.au

Mail: The Repatriation Medical Authority

GPO Box 1014

Brisbane QLD 4001

What if I disagree with a SoP or an RMA decision?

You may request the Specialist Medical Review Council (SMRC) to review an RMA decision if you are eligible to make a claim for a pension under the VEA or a claim for compensation under the MRCA, or represent a veterans or members organisation.

If you are eligible, you may request a review of:

  • the contents of a SoP;
  • a decision of the RMA not to determine a SoP;
  • a decision of the RMA not to amend a SoP; and
  • a decision of the RMA not to carry out an investigation.

Please note that there are time limits that apply when making such a request to SMRC. Information on how to apply for a review by the SMRC is available on the Applications page of the SMRC website at https://smrc.gov.au/making-application

You can contact the SMRC by:

SMRC email: SMRC.Registrar [at] smrc.gov.au

SMRC website: www.smrc.gov.au

Mail:The Registrar

Specialist Medical Review Council

PO Box 965

Brisbane QLD 4001