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AN05 EAST TIMOR AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE CONTINGENTS

Document

Advisory from Disability Compensation Branch

No 5/2000

This is an advisory note only.  This is the considered view of Disability Compensation and Income Support.  It is not a Repatriation Commission Guideline or a Departmental Instruction.   The advice is not intended to conflict with the proper application of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 or the judgements of the Courts.  It may be subject to change as a result of further interpretation by the Courts of the legislation.  Nevertheless it represents a considered view that should be taken into account by all claims assessors, investigators and SPOC delegates.

East Timor Australian Federal Police Contingents

Deciding claims for disability pension

Under the terms of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) members of peacekeeping forces such as the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are Members of the Forces and veterans for all purposes of the Act.

However, the nature and content of the Instruments issued govern all AFP entitlements.

Instruments

On 25 February 2000, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs signed two instruments for the purposes of s.68 (1)(b) of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).  The first assigned the Australian Federal Police Contingents to UNAMET (United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor).  The second assigned them to UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor).  Both were as “Peacekeeping Forces”.

As required by the VEA, both instruments were published in the Commonwealth Gazette, 15 March 2000.  The Peacekeeping Forces will be added as items 25 and 26 to Schedule 3 of the VEA.  This amendment will appear on the electronic version before appearing in any reprint of the Act.

Copies of these instruments as well as other instruments relating to East Timor can be found on CLIK in the Legislation Library at 'Other Legislation'/'Ministerial Determinations'. The instruments relating to the Australian Police Contingents to UNAMET and UNTAET can be found under s.68 (1) Peacekeeping Force.

Deciding claims

Claims for disability pension received prior to the gazettal of the instrument can now be determined. The date of effect of these claims is determined by reference to the date the claim was lodged and not the date of the Gazettal notice (see s.20).

This allows a maximum of three months backdating prior to the date of claim but no earlier than the starting date under the relevant Instrument.  The earliest possible dates will be 21 June 1999 for AFP members of UNAMET and 25 October 1999 for AFP members of UNTAET.

The date of injury /death or clinical onset of the disease is the earliest date allowed under compensation law.  If the date of injury/death or clinical onset of the disease was only two (2) months prior to the claim, then the claim can only be backdated two (2) months.

Timor service and pensions

Peacekeeping service can only ever be 'non-warlike' service.  Non-warlike service attracts disability pension but not service pension.  Any claim from a member of the AFP for service pension or qualifying service should be referred to National Office for the latest advice.

In contrast, ADF personnel currently with the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) are engaged in peace enforcement, which is 'warlike' service. Under s.7A(1)(a)(iv) warlike service constitutes qualifying service, and thereby entitles them to both disability pension and service pension.

Records

Confirmation of service must be sought from AFP Headquarters in Canberra.

Written enquiries should be made to:

Australian Federal Police

Peace Operations

GPO Box 401

CANBERRA  ACT  2601

If it is necessary to make contact by phone the general enquiries number is:

(02) 6246 3518.

Any request for confirmation must include a specific request that the AFP declare that the member actually served in East Timor.  This is because the AFP counts its area of operations as including Darwin.  AFP members who served only in Darwin are not eligible for cover under the VEA.

Dual coverage and offsetting

When a claim is received, State Offices should contact COMCARE to see if a claim has also been received by that organisation.  When the claim is about to be decided the claims assessor should go back to COMCARE, to check the progress of any claim about to be decided and deal with any dual compensation and offsetting issues that arise.

Further information

States will be asked to provide information on AFP claims for the purpose of answering questions asked in Parliament.  It would be advisable to keep some record or identifier for AFP cases.

Any additional information can be obtained by contacting Policy, Eligibility and Research Section in National Office.

John R Douglas

Director

Policy, Eligibility and Research

Disability Compensation Branch

2 May 2000