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Operational Service





Operational service is generally service performed:

  • outside Australia,
  • during war-like operations in which the Australian Defence Force was involved, and
  • in areas where the incurred level of risk is considered above that of normal peacetime conditions

The hostilities in which claimants can have operational service are summarised below.

World War 1 & 2 Operational service - outside Australia

During World War 1 & 2, a person serving outside Australia has operational service if they had:

  • continuous full-time service,      More ?
  • as a member of the Defence Force,
  • outside Australia,
  • during the periods:
  • 4 August 1914 to 1 September 1921 in WW1
  • 3 September 1939 to 1 July 1951 in WW2 - if joined prior to 1 July 1947.

Service immediately before or immediately after a period recognised as operational service is also counted as operational service.  This does not apply if service is not continuous.  If a person is stationed in Australia at all times, but travelled from one place in Australia to another and thereby were for short periods of time outside Australia, they should not be considered to have served outside Australia.     

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World War 2 Operational service - Northern Territory

The dates of the bombing raids determine Operational Service within Northern Territory.

A person serving in the Northern Territory during World War 2 has operational service if they served:

  • as a member of the Defence Force,
  • for a continuous period of not less than three months between 19 February 1942 and 12 November 1943, inclusive, and
  • in a part of the Northern Territory or the adjoining islands north of 14 degrees 30 minutes south parallel of latitude.
  • service immediately before or immediately after this period of operational service is also counted as operational service.      More ?
World War 2 - Other operational service

Other operational service during World War 2 is service which involved:

  • the veteran being injured, contracting a disease or dying as a result of enemy action, or
  • in circumstances that should be treated as actual combat against the enemy,
  • provided the veteran was:
  • a member of the Defence Force,
  • rendering continuous full-time service,
  • within Australia, and
  • during the period 3 September 1939 to 15 August 1945.
  • This does not extend operational service to eligible war service.
World War 2 Operational service - Australian Mariners

With effect from 1 July 1994, eligible mariners are veterans for benefits under the VEA.  The term Australian Mariner is described in s5C of the VEA.

An Australian Mariner is taken to have rendered operational service during World War 2 while employed on a ship:

  • outside Australia; or
  • within Australia if that period of employment ended immediately before, or started immediately after, the period of employment outside Australia; or
  • within Australia, was injured, or contracted a disease, as a result of enemy action; or
  • within Australia in such circumstances that the employment should, in the opinion of the Commission, be treated as employment in actual combat against the enemy.      More ?
Post World War 2 Operational service



Post World War 2 operational service must be service performed:

  • on a continuous full-time basis outside Australia,
  • as a member of a unit allotted for duty,
  • in an operational area, and
  • during the appropriate period.

Operational service in respect of the Malayan Emergency, Indonesian Confrontation or North-East Thailand (including Ubon) is service as a member of the Defence Force who, or a member of a unit of the Defence Force that:

  • was assigned for service in Singapore at any time during the period from and including 29 June 1950 to and including 31 August 1957, or
  • was assigned for service in North East Thailand (including Ubon) at any time during the period from and including 31 May 1962 to and including 24 June 1965, or
  • was at any time during the period from and including 1 August 1960 and including 27 May 1963, in the area comprising the territory of Singapore and or the Federation of Malaya, or
  • served in an operational area as a person allotted for duty, or a member of a unit that was allotted for duty, in that operational area.

Operational service starts on:

  • the day the veteran departed the last Australian port of call when allotted, or
  • the date of allotment if the veteran was outside Australia.

Operational service ends on the day the veteran:

  • reached Australia following completion of the allotted duty or,
  • returned to the place from where they were allotted for duty, or leave the operational area if not returning to that place, if not returning to Australia.
Short Periods Outside an Operational Area



Periods of operational service are not broken by Rest and Recuperation arranged by the relevant service (eg Japan during the Korean War) or when the person returns to Australia for a period of 14 days or less for:

  • emergency or compassionate leave; or
  • duty; or
  • Defence arranged medical or surgical treatment, provided the person:
  • was still a member of a unit of the Defence Force; and
  • was allotted for duty in an operational area; or
  • continued to be allotted for duty in an operational area.

If the break exceeds 14 days, only the first 14 days of the break is operational service.

Example:  Break exceeds 14 days

A member of the Army was serving in Vietnam when his wife was killed in a motor car accident. He returned to Australia on compassionate leave. As he was unable to arrange permanent care for his children, he applied for and was granted a posting to another unit after he had been in Australia for three weeks. His operational service ends at the end of fourteen days after his return as this is earlier than the date of his re-posting.

Warlike Service or Non-Warlike Service - operational service criteria

A veteran may also have operational service if he or she has service that is determined to be warlike service or non-warlike service by the Minister for Defence.     

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Port to Port provisions do not apply to declarations of warlike and non-warlike service.  For warlike and non-warlike service, a person is rendering operational service only while they are in the area of operations as defined by the relevant instrument.  The voyage to and from the operational area is not operational service.

An operational area is an area specified in Column 1 for the period specified in Column 2 of Schedule 2 of the VEA to which a unit or individual have been allotted or deemed allotted for duty.