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20.8 Medical discharges and ADF Medical Boards

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A 'Medical Discharge' is an involuntary termination of the client's employment by the ADF, on the grounds of permanent or at least long-term unfitness to serve, or unfitness for deployment to operational (warlike) service.

Involuntary medical discharges from the ADF are made on the recommendations of a medical board which examines the member and also examines his/her medical record for the purposes of determining whether he/she is incapacitated in the long term, for Defence employment. Following a recommendation to discharge a person as Medical Class 4 that member has the opportunity to appeal that decision by the ADF, and to demonstrate reasons why he/she should not be discharged. This is of course, an administrative matter involving only the client and the Department of Defence. DVA is not involved in any way with the ADF's decision to discharge or retain the client.

Furthermore, delegates should not become involved in any similar dispute the member may have about the board's medical opinion, the degree of residual capacity specifically with respect to ADF employment, or to comment on the client's perception of the correctness or justice of the discharge. Delegates should not agree to fund a medical report specifically for submission to an administrative appeal or to contest the Medical Board opinion. Delegates may only commission medical examinations (i.e. under Section 57 of the SRCA) where these are required to determine compensation issues. Furthermore, the delegate's instructions to medical examiners for SRCA-related reports on serving members, should not raise extraneous issues about continued fitness to serve in the ADF. Only ADF medical boards with their intimate knowledge of ADF requirements, service life and standards for deployment have the expertise to decide issues of fitness to serve in the ADF.

Nevertheless, copies of any such medical reports commissioned by DVA for its own purposes (for instance, permanent impairment assessments) are, like all other documents on file, available to the client on request. The client may of course access those existing reports and subsequently use them for any purpose. That purpose may of course include submission to the ADF as he/she sees fit. Any such requests can be made under S59 of the SRCA.