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4.4.4 Sporting Injuries

Members' participation in sport encouraged

It is the policy of the Department of Defence as outlined in Defence Instructions (General) PERS 14-2 25 September 1983 that the active participation by Defence Force personnel in sport is to be encouraged.

As a result most units field teams in local competitions and there are also inter-unit matches and inter-service competitions in a variety of sports. Injuries resulting from such inter-unit or inter-service competitions are usually considered to be defence-caused as they are related to the member's duties. Where it is not possible for the unit to provide sufficient sporting opportunities for its members, the members may participate in civilian sport and be covered for compensation. All such activity needs formal approval from the commanding officer.

Example – sporting injury accepted

Injury during solitary practice with a view to being selected for the Navy's ski team has been accepted by the AAT as being defence-caused.

Sporting injuries during operational service

Sporting injuries during World War 2 would normally be related to the veteran's duty unless the veteran did not render operational service and the injury occurred while they were on leave. Sporting injuries occurring during subsequent periods of operational service would be covered by the 'occurrence' provisions even if they were not related to the veteran's duty.     

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Authorisation for participation in sport required for compensation

For the purposes of compensation, written authorisation by a Commanding Officer (or officers delegated by them for responsibility for sport) is required if a member is to be considered to be participating in a sporting activity in the course of their employment. The distinction between 'permission' and 'authorisation' is that member have:

  • 'permission' to undertake sporting/recreational activities for which no 'course of employment' authorisation can be given.
  • authorisation to train and compete in sport and are expected to participate in accordance with that authorisation.
Situations where members are covered for compensation

The policy on injuries occurring during sport has been interpreted by the Department of Defence to mean that in general a member will normally be covered for compensation if the member:

  • participates in a civilian amateur sporting team on a weekend,
  • seeks authorisation prior to the game to play with that team in accordance with the policy, and
  • is unable to play in a Service team in that particular sport in a civilian weekend competition, as no Service team is available.

Occurrence provisions

Section 4.4.2

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According to subsection 5D(1), an injury means any physical or mental injury (including the recurrence of a physical or mental injury) but does not include:

  • a disease, or
  • the aggravation of a physical or mental injury.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal.



Operational service is generally service performed:

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

Refer to section 6 of the VEA through to 6F of the VEA for a full explanation of operational service.