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B43/1994 ALLOTTED FOR DUTY - SERVICE IN AN OPERATIONAL AREA
DATE OF ISSUE: 28 SEPTEMBER 1994
ALLOTTED FOR DUTY - SERVICE IN AN OPERATIONAL AREA
This instruction clarifies Commission policy for determining eligibility for service pension in respect of members of the defence force who were allotted for duty in an operational area but who did not actually serve in that operational area.
2.This includes service with Army units which were allotted for duty in Korea but were based in Japan where many members of the unit did not serve in Korea, and service with the Navy aboard ships such as HMAS Vengeance and shore bases such as HMAS Commonwealth which although allotted for duty in Korea, did not serve in the operational area.
3.In 1950 the Repatriation Act 1920 was amended to provide eligibility for disability pension for persons, or members of units, who were "allotted for duty" in an operational area. Korea and Malaya were declared as operational areas for the purposes of the Repatriation Act 1920. For service pension purposes the only change was :"any reference to service in a theatre of war shall be read as a reference to service in an operational area".
4.When the Veterans' Entitlements Act was introduced in 1986 the same words were used to define operational service (disability pension) and qualifying service (service pension). The Veterans' Entitlements Bill 1985 Explanatory Memorandum referring to Clause 36 and the meaning of qualifying service stated: "Qualifying service will have the same meaning as 'served in a theatre of war' in section 23 of the Repatriation Act 1920".
Therefore qualifying service requires allotment to and, service in, the operational area.
5.Recently, several service pension claims have been pursued to the AAT. In two cases the Tribunal interpreted the legislation to mean that a person who never entered the operational area was eligible for service pension if any member of that person's unit (being a unit allotted for duty) entered the operational area.
6.From its inception, service pension has been paid in recognition of the intangible effects of "war service" on veterans, that is, the stress of facing enemy fire, the long absences from home/family and the deprivations of combat conditions. In conflicts prior to Korea a veteran had to have served in a theatre of war, been engaged in operations against the enemy and have been in danger from hostile forces of the enemy in order to qualify for service pension.
7.Following the AAT decisions, Income Support Branch sought clarification of the Commission's policy concerning eligibility for service pension when allotted for duty. Consequently, the Repatriation Commission determined that the original intention of service pension as recognition of the intangible effects of "war service" would be upheld. For the purposes of the VEA, a person who had been allotted for duty, or was a member of a unit allotted for duty, in an operational area had rendered qualifying service for service pension purposes only if that person actually served in the operational area. It is not sufficient only to have been allotted for duty, or to have been a member of a unit allotted for duty of which some members served in the operational area.
ACTION TO BE TAKEN BY BRANCH OFFICES
8.All cases being held should now be determined on the facts of the individual cases, in line with the above-stated Commission policy.
9.The contact officer for enquiries regarding this policy is Jeanette Ricketts, Policy Administration and Advice Section, Central Office. Tel (06) 289 6085.
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR