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2.1.1 Who is a student under VCES? (see 2.1 of Instrument)

Last amended: 12 August 2022

A person is a student for the purposes of the VCES if they are an eligible child as defined in section 116 of the VEA.


An eligible child is someone who is:

  • under 16; or
  • between 16 and 25, undertaking full-time education


  • the child of a veteran or a present or past member of the Australian Defence Force who is receiving (or was receiving prior to their death) a Disability Compensation Payment:
  • at the special rate (formerly known as T&PI)
  • at the extreme disablement adjustment (EDA) rate
  • at an increased rate because of multiple amputations, or multiple amputations and blindness in one eye; or
  • the child of a veteran or a present or past member of the Australian Defence Force whose death was war-caused or defence-caused; or
  • the child of a veteran who was an Australian prisoner of war and is now deceased.


Also eligible are students whose veteran parent had operational service but whose death was not war–caused or defence-caused and who have also lost their other parent. This loss may be through death or where the surviving parent is not maintaining them.


A student who is the child of a Vietnam veteran (or who is or has been dependant on a Vietnam veteran) but who does not qualify under any of the above criteria may be eligible in certain circumstances (that is, if they are considered to be 'vulnerable'. The student will need to be assessed by an appropriately qualified professional and will need to be approved as 'an eligible child' by the Repatriation Commission. (see below information).

Eligibility for children of Vietnam veterans assessed as 'vulnerable'

Children of Vietnam veterans who can be identified by a suitably qualified professional as being at risk or vulnerable may be eligible to receive benefits under the VCES.  In 2000, eligibility was extended to this group of students as a result of a study into the death by suicide of children of Vietnam veterans.  The report analyses findings from the Vietnam Veterans' Health study which identified a higher incidence of suicide among Vietnam veterans' children than in the general community.  The report showed that many children of Vietnam veterans were entering the 25-29 age group which falls within the age group identified by the National Suicide Prevention Strategy as a high risk group within the general community.


The Government's response to the Health Study included extending access to the VCES to include Vietnam veterans' children who are identified as being vulnerable to risk factors.


Education allowances are mutually exclusive. If a student receives an education allowance under the VCES or MRCAETS, the student is ineligible to receive any other education allowance under either the VCES or MRCAETS.

Eligibility of DRCA Dependent Children under the VCES

Section 118(2) of the VEA states that “The Commission may provide guidance and counselling services under the scheme for such other people as the Minister determines in writing.”


The VEA Instrument No.29/2000 made under the above provision means that some dependent children under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) are eligible to access guidance and counselling services provided under Part 4 of the VCES.  This access is available to dependent children of those who receive the Additional Death Benefit or the Severe Injury Adjustment under the Defence Act 1903.  These payments have specific eligibility criteria related to service covered by the DRCA.  For further information contact Director Benefits, Payments and Rehabilitation Policy section.