Injuries occurring in live-in accommodation

In a number of instances, defence personnel are required to live in accommodation provided on the base or in another defence establishment. Injuries occurring in this 'live-in' accommodation may sometimes be accepted as defence-caused depending on the circumstances of the case. Decisions made by the VRB and AAT in respect of injuries occurring in such circumstances vary so it is not possible to follow such decisions in all cases. The issue to be considered is whether the injury is the result of domestic activities or activities related to the person's service.

Example – domestic activity accepted

Members may fall in bathrooms and injure themselves in Defence provided accommodation. This would be regarded as a domestic activity. However, if there was something about the bathroom that was significantly different to a private bathroom or the bathroom was in a poor state of repair, it may be possible to accept the injury as defence-caused under the 'but for' provisions.    

Example - domestic activity not accepted

The Federal Court of Australia in the case of Holthouse (24 June 1982) has been referred to in a number of decisions when determining whether or not an injury or disease resulted from activities within the sphere of a member's personal life. In that case, a naval officer was posted to be the Commanding Officer of a naval unit and was required to live in the accommodation provided. The member decided to let their house while living in that accommodation. The member had a large potted plant which they kept under cover but they decided to move it out into the open in case the tenants did not remember to water it. The member injured their back when moving the plant. It was considered that their decision to move the plant was a domestic decision and had nothing to do with their naval service.