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13.2.2.1 Who is a Dependant under MRCAETS

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13.2.2.1 Who is a Dependant under MRCAETS

Unlike under the VCES, all students must be a dependant of an eligible ADF member, former member or deceased member to be eligible for MRCAETS benefits. Under the VEA, only children who are not the biological or adoptive child of the eligible veteran must prove dependency to receive benefits. Under the MRCA children are defined in s 5 but are also listed in the definition of ‘dependant’ provided at s 15. It is necessary to satisfy the definition of a ‘dependant’ to meet the definition of ‘Eligible Young Person’ under MRCAETS.

Under section 15 of the MRCA, a dependant can be:

a child, step child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister of a deceased member, member or former member; or

a child or step child of the member’s partner; or

a person in respect of whom the member stands in the position of a parent;

and

wholly or partly dependent on the deceased member, member or former member for economic support (or would have been wholly or partly dependent but for the incapacity of the member as a result of an injury or disease for which liability has been accepted under the MRCA).

Under section 17 of the MRCA, an eligible young person is automatically considered to be wholly dependent on the member or former member if he or she lives with the member or former member or would be living with the member or former member but for a temporary absence of the member or the young person.

Schedule 6 of the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Mental Health and Other Measures) Act 2014 amended the circumstances in which an eligible young person is considered to be wholly dependent on a member under section 17 of the MRCA. An eligible young person is now also automatically considered to be wholly dependent if the member or former member is liable to provide child support under the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 for the young person. Where child support is provided other than under a Child Support Agency arrangement, a level of dependency can still be established on a case-by-case basis.

Where a child is not automatically deemed as dependent under section 17 of the MRCA, additional documentation may be required to establish dependency. Suitable evidence could take the form of a statutory declaration by the veteran or applicant, a guardianship order, evidence of payment by Centrelink of FTB to the member of member’s spouse on behalf of the child, a custody order, etc.

Who is a child under MRCAETS?

As of 1 July 2009, the definitions of children under the VEA and the MRCA were amended so that terms relating to dependants extend to include same sex relationships. The Same Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – General Law Reform) Act 2008 (Same Sex Act) removed differential treatment of same sex couples and their children from Commonwealth legislation, including the VEA and the MRCA.

Section 5 of MRCA defines child as a child of a person within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975. This includes adoptive children and step-children.

Step children under MRCAETS

The list of dependants in section 15(2) includes a step-child. The child must also be wholly or partly dependent (this refers to economic dependency) on the member. If the step-child’s parents separate, the child will lose entitlements to MRCAETS benefits unless the child remains wholly or partly dependent on the member of former member.

If the child continues to live with the member or former member after the separation, the child is eligible to receive MRCAETS benefits because of section 17 of the MRCA.