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4.1 Overview of the ADF Rehabilitation Programs

Last amended 
14 July 2016

The Chief of the Defence Force is the Rehabilitation Authority for all ADF serving members, including Permanent Force members, Reserve Force members on continuous full-time service (CFTS) (reservists) and reservists not on CFTS (part time, inactive and stand-by reservists). This applies to ADF members regardless of whether they are covered under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) or the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA).

Rehabilitation services provided by the Australian Defence Force

The Australian Defence Force Rehabilitation Program (ADFRP) provides rehabilitation services for Permanent Force members and Reserve Force members (Reservists) on continuous full-time service (CFTS), irrespective of whether a member's injury or illness is related to work.

Reservists not on CFTS are provided with early intervention treatment and rehabilitation by Defence for service related injuries only. Rehabilitation supports and services for Reservists are provided through the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program.

If a claim for liability is accepted, DVA becomes the compensation authority for reservists and is responsible for covering all treatment costs. Defence remains responsible for providing occupational rehabilitation until they leave the ADF or at such time when a Rehabilitation Program is no longer required.

ADF members should lodge a compensation claim with DVA within 28 days of incurring the injury/illness to ensure that they are able to access all benefits and services to which they are entitled.

Members of the ADF Cadets (cadets), including Cadet Instructors, Officers of Cadets and School Cadets, are provided with coverage under the MRCA for periods of instruction, training, performance of duty, and travel to and from places of approved activity. They are not eligible for health care or rehabilitation assistance through Defence. Cadets should lodge a claim for compensation with DVA within 28 days of incurring the injury/illness.

ADFRP and Rehabilitation for Reservists Program staff work closely with DVA in a number of areas including rehabilitation case management practice, shared provider services, and policy related matters.

The ADFRP has been developed to assist ADF members to return to a state of readiness as soon as is practicable after injury or illness, through the provision of rehabilitation services.


The principles of the ADFRP and the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program are:

  • early intervention and the provision of a biopsychosocial model of rehabilitation to reduce the impact of injury, illness or disease and contribute to enhanced capability through a durable return to work;
  • evidence-based rehabilitation assessments and programs based on an individual's needs and the inherent requirements of service. This includes the identification and facilitation of suitable alternate or modified duties;
  • workplace-based rehabilitation to provide, where possible, the most realistic environment to assess fitness for work;
  • coordinated participation of the member, health practitioners, command elements, Rehabilitation Coordinator and Rehabilitation Consultant and other relevant stakeholders in the development and execution of rehabilitation programs;
  • a coordinated approach towards a common goal, maximising the potential for a positive rehabilitation outcome for the individual, the ADF and the community;
  • regular review of rehabilitation progress and risk factors for a durable return to work;
  • clear roles and responsibilities reflected in organisational performance agreements combined with accountability; and
  • confidentiality and privacy of information obtained about the member is maintained.

Key components

The key components of the ADFRP and the Rehabilitation for Reservists Program are:

  • a Rehabilitation Assessment of a member's capacity to undertake rehabilitation. This includes an assessment of the member across clinical, occupational and psychosocial parameters; and
  • the development and implementation of a Rehabilitation Program (where appropriate) providing a structured series of activities and services designed to meet the member's rehabilitation needs. The program outlines what should be done during the member's rehabilitation including the responsibilities, services, time frames and goals.


The three goals that apply to serving members participating in ADF rehabilitation programs are, in priority order:

Goal 1

Fit for duty in the pre-condition work environment. This relates to deployability as well as day-to-day tasking. It means that, as a result of a Rehabilitation Program, it is likely that the member will return to their pre-condition level of physical and mental fitness and duties. This should be the goal in the majority of rehabilitation cases.

Goal 2

Fit for alternative duty in another ADF occupation as MEC 4 J41 (implies MEC 1 or 2 in new trade/category/muster/corps or service). As a result of a Rehabilitation Program, it is likely the member will be able to remain in the ADF and return to work with different duties and/or in a different location and/or in a different Service.

Goal 3

The member is unable to perform any duties within the ADF as a result of the injury or illness. The member will be transitioned out of the ADF for medical reasons (i.e. MEC 4 or 5 and therefore medical discharge).

Rehabilitation goals may change during the Rehabilitation Program process depending on the member's condition or circumstances.