Last amended: Former Coastal Waters Policy – Qualifying Service

The Repatriation Commission decision of 28 June 1965 became known as the “coastal waters policy”.  The coastal waters policy conceded QS for members of the Australian Defence Force if they served in Australian coastal waters within particular dates in specific areas during World War 2.  Although this policy received Cabinet agreement on 7 July 1965, the VEA was never amended to reflect this policy.

Courts' Interpretation of Qualifying Service Law

The Courts and Tribunals have indicated that any policy approach to qualifying service, including the so called ”coastal waters policy”, must be in accordance with the law.  The Full Federal Court decision in Walter Harold Thompson v Repatriation Commission (1988), a leading 'coastal waters' case, is binding on the Repatriation Commission and all delegates.  This decision outlined the description of “incurred danger” and indicated that the test in the VEA could only be met if, when looked at with the advantage of hindsight, the evidence shows that the veteran was actually in danger from hostile forces of the enemy.  The law requires there to be danger to the person from the enemy while that person was involved in operations against the enemy.

Such cases may involve claims of danger from enemy mines, submarines, air raids, shelling or even enemy presence.  The details of cases of this nature need to be examined individually regarding their specific circumstances for determining qualifying service.

Current – Qualifying Service Determinations

In summary there is no longer a “coastal waters” policy as it has been overtaken by decisions in the Courts.  The determining criterion for qualifying service for World War 2 is and was:

  • having rendered service during a period of hostilities and
  • having been engaged in operations against the enemy while
  • actually incurring danger from hostile forces of the enemy.