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3.2.2 'Rendering defence service'

The various heads of liability in the MRCA require that 'defence service' be 'rendered' and that the service be temporally or causally related to the claimed injury, disease or death before it can be determined to be a service injury, service disease or service death.  A person does not 'render defence service' merely by enlisting [Truchlik v Repatriation Commission (1989) 87 ALR 263].

'Rendering defence service' requires the person to be on duty or be doing something required, authorised, or expected to be done in connection with, or incidental to, the person's duties [Roncevich v Repatriation Commission (2005) HCA 40].  Hence a person can be rendering defence service even when they are not on duty.

Nonetheless, even where certain activities are approved or even encouraged within the defence hierarchy, 'there is a point where activities become a purely personal pursuit'.  In Spriggins and Repatriation Commission (2007) AATA 1657 a crewmember of HMAS Tobruk was severely injured when he was struck by a vehicle while on shore leave.  The AAT found there was no doubt that the member was encouraged by officers and non-commissioned officers to go ashore.  During the course of the evening the member has spent his time at various establishments were alcohol was served.  The AAT considered that it was no part of the member's Defence Service to get drunk to the extent that he failed to maintain a proper care for his own safety.

It is also important to note, the MRCA does not contain any provisions equivalent to sections 6C or 6D of the VEA (which effectively provide 24 hour a day coverage for a person on operational service).

The following examples demonstrate when a person would be 'rendering defence service' even when they are not on duty:

Example 1:Jogging on the weekend would be 'rendering defence service' if this activity was authorised as part of a training program designed by an ADF Physical Training Instructor.

Example 2:Attending a ceremonial dinner would be 'rendering defence service' if the person's Commanding Officer encouraged him or her to attend the dinner.

Example 3:Travelling to a medical board appointment would be 'rendering defence service' if the ADF required the person to undergo the medical assessment.