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Since 1947 personnel of the defence forces of a number of nations have been used in a peacekeeping role. Australians who have taken part in Peacekeeping Forces include:
- Australian Defence Force members, and
- members of State, Territory and Federal police forces.
Australians employed by the United Nations organisation or private or other government welfare or philanthropic organisations during a peacekeeping period are not members of a Peacekeeping Force as they are not part of an Australian contingent.More ?
Peacekeeping service is defined as service with a Peacekeeping Force outside Australia. It includes:
- Any period after appointment or allocation to the Peacekeeping Force during which the person travelled outside Australia to join the Peacekeeping Force.
- Up to 28 days of authorised travel outside Australia after the person ceased to serve with the Peacekeeping Force or left the area specified in the VEA, and applies to the journey from that area or duty to the next duty assignment or return to first port in Australia.
Under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 VEA, s68(1) and (3) a Peacekeeping Force needs to be:
- described in an item of Sched 3 of the VEA, or if part of a larger force
- an Australian contingent authorised or approved by the Australian Government.
Peacekeeping Forces exist from the date specified in Column 3 of Sched 3 of the VEA. Peacekeeping service ends once the member ceases to be a member of the Peacekeeping Force or the Peacekeeping Force ceases to exist. Specific Instruments from the Chief of the Defence Force are issued from time to time to confirm start dates for Australian involvement.
Who qualifies as a member of a Peacekeeping Force?
To qualify as a member of a Peacekeeping Force, a person needs to:
- have served as an Australian member of a Peacekeeping Force outside Australia; or
- have served as a member of the Australian contingent of a Peacekeeping Force.
Most claims are received from members of the Defence Force who have served as part of an Australian contingent or as Australian members of a smaller Peacekeeping Force. However, membership of a Peacekeeping Force for the purpose of the VEA is not restricted to members of the Defence Force, but includes Australian police personnel attached to Peacekeeping Forces.
Members of Territory, State and Australian Federal Police services have served with the Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus since 1964. Since then, Police members have served with Peacekeeping forces in a variety of locations, including Cambodia, Haiti and Mozambique. Such persons are members of a Peacekeeping Force and eligible under the VEA for compensation.
It is important to note that, although compensation and treatment coverage under the VEA ceases for members of the Australian Defence Force on and from 1 July 2004 with the commencement of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, this did not close coverage for Police members. As such, VEA eligibility continues after this date for Police peacekeepers on certain operations.
VEA coverage continues past 1 July 2004 for Police members with service on the following Peacekeeping operations:
- United Nations Force in Cyprus - 14 May 1964 – June 2017
- The Australian Police Contingent of the United Nations Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET) - 20 May 2002 – 20 May 2005
- The Australian Police Contingent of the Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands (RAMSI) - 24 July 2003 – 30 June 2017
- The Australian Police Contingent of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) - 1 January 2006 – 9 July 2011
It should be noted that although VEA coverage exists for service by Police members on UNMIS, this does not extend to the subsequent Peacekeeping operation established by the UN for the newly-independent nation of South Sudan (UNMISS).
It is understood that since 2005, a number of international deployments of Police members have been covered under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 administered by Comcare. These deployments may also attract compensation entitlements under ‘top-up’ provisions administered by the Australian Federal Police.
Separately, Australians who were United Nations Organisation employees or the employees of private or government welfare organisations during the time of a peacekeeping mission do not meet the definition of members of a Peacekeeping Force. As such, they do not have eligibility under the VEA.