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C34/1997 ADDITIONAL PERIODS OF OVERSEAS SERVICE TO BE COVERED UNDER THE VETERANS' ENTITLEMENTS ACT 1986 (VEA)
DATE OF ISSUE: 5 JUNE 1997
ADDITIONAL PERIODS OF OVERSEAS SERVICE TO BE COVERED UNDER THE VETERANS' ENTITLEMENTS ACT 1986 (VEA)
The purpose of this Instruction is twofold:
- to advise State Offices of some of the detail leading to the Governments' decision to extend coverage under the VEA to additional periods of overseas service, and
- to outline the procedures to be followed when a claim is received from one of the veterans now to be covered.
2.Flowing from a Federal Government commitment, the service entitlements were reassessed for former members of the Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR) and the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan (BCOF), and for service at the Ubon Air Base in Thailand. The Department of Defence, in conjunction with the Department of Veterans' Affairs, undertook a review of the nature of service in these areas. The opportunity was taken to include in the review all other known perceived anomalies in overseas service since World War II.
3.The review found a number of overseas deployments since World War II incurred a level of risk above that of normal peacetime service conditions and warranted benefits under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. One deployment was found to have incurred danger from hostile enemy forces warranting eligibility for the service pension.
4.Service in fifteen overseas deployments was reviewed. Service in twelve of these was recommended to be covered by the VEA. The three not recommended were; service with the RAAF Signals Unit on Labuan Island from 5 March 1951 to 3 July 1957 during the Malayan Emergency; service on Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu from 18 August 1980 to 26 September 1980, and service with the United Nations Temporary Executive authority (UNTEA) in West Irian.
5.The additional periods of overseas service to be covered under the VEA, and the classification to be applied to that service, are as follows:
To be declared a Peacekeeping Force and classified as 'peacekeeping service':
6.United Nations (UN) sponsored activity with the:
- UN Commission of Korea (UNCOK) from 1 January 1949,
- the India-Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM) from 20 September 1965,
- the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from 23 March 1978, and
- the UN Border relief operation in Cambodia (UNBRO), from 1 February 1989.
To be classified as 'operational service' but with no automatic eligibility for the service pension:
7.The following types of service will not have automatic service pension rights.
- Service in the Permanent Defence Force with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) in Japan during the period 3 January 1949 to 30 June 1951 inclusive. All service with BCOF is now covered.
- Naval service with the Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR) from 2 July 1955 to 27 May 1963 inclusive.
- RAAF service at Ubon Air Base in Thailand during the period 31 May 1962 to 31 August 1968 inclusive.
- ADF personnel who were deployed to north-east Thailand over the period 31 May 1962 to 31 August 1968 inclusive, primarily engaged on duties associated with Australia's commitment to SEATO.
- ADF personnel who served in Singapore in support of the Malayan Emergency operations over the period 29 June 1950 to 31 August 1957 inclusive.
- Service in the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea from 19 April 1956.
- The visit of HMA Ships, Vampire and Quickmatch, to Vietnam in January 1962 prior to the start of Australia's formal involvement on 31 July 1962.
To be classified as 'warlike service' ie, equivalent to 'qualifying service' with eligibility for the service pension:
- These will have service pension.
- service in Vietnam by Embassy Guards or by RAAF evacuation personnel over the period 12 January 1973 to 29 April 1975 inclusive.
9.The VEA is to be amended to include the modern Defence classification of “warlike service” and “non-warlike service”. More details on this classification are at Attachment A. The term “warlike service” has been adopted for this group as it was the first instance of Australian forces being deployed to an active war zone, in which Australia was not an active participant.
10.More background details on each of these deployments is provided in Attachment B.
Date of effect of changes
11.The date of effect of these changes are:
- 13 May 1997 for disability pension, treatment and service pension, and
- the date of Royal Assent for eligibility for benefits under the Defence Service Homes Act.
When can veterans apply?
12.Veterans can apply now. However, the payment of benefits cannot be authorised until the necessary amendments to the legislation receive Royal Assent, this is expected later in 1997.
13.In addition to the media information released at the time of the Budget, a brochure outlining the initiative has been printed. Copies of the media information and the brochure are attached.
14.Until such time as Royal Assent is given to the changes it is unlawful to make a decision either accepting or rejecting any claim where the veteran is only eligible by virtue of the new changes to eligibility.
15.Claims where the veteran has existing eligibility under the VEA, but would also have additional eligibility as a result of the announcements in the Budget, should be determined as quickly as possible, especially those where the outcome is favourable to the claimant. In cases where the claim would be successful solely because of factors relevant to the new service eligibility, these are not to be determined until Royal Assent.
16.Claims where the veteran has no existing service eligibility but it is clear that the veteran will have eligibility, by virtue of the new service criteria, are to be registered and investigated. However, decisions on these cases must be deferred until after Royal Assent.
17.A number of mainframe systems and CCPS changes are required to enable recording of the new service periods and decisions.
18.It is expected that these changes will be ready for implementation by the time Royal Assent is given to the legislative amendments.
New Service and Decision codes
19.Details of the new Service and Decision Source codes to be used when recording Service Detail, and when determining cases where the veteran has eligibility under the new criteria, are set out in the table below. These codes will not be effective until after the system changes have been implemented.
Description of Service
ADF personnel serving with BCOF in Japan
Naval Personnel serving with the FESR
ADF personnel serving in north-east Thailand, including Ubon, between 31 May 1962 to 31 August 1968 inclusive
Naval Personnel serving in Vietnam in January 1962, and
Australian Embassy Guards, and RAAF evacuation personnel in Vietnam between 12/01/73 and 29/04/75 incl
UN force in Korea (UNCOK)
Service in the DMZ in Korea
Additional Service in Singapore
UN force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
UN force in India/Pakistan (UNIPOM)
UN force in Cambodia (UNBRO)
20.Should you need further information please contact:
for policy matters - Perry Phillips, Disability Compensation Policy and Research Section on (06) 289 6483, and
for processing matters - Kevin Penna, Disability Compensation National Operations Policy Section on (02) 9213 7609.
W R MAXWELL
A new Department of Defence classification system was approved by Cabinet in 1993 to determine the conditions of service to apply, prospectively, to the deployment of forces. This new classification system should bring greater certainty to the classification for benefits for future deployments. This new system is based on the concepts of “warlike service” and “non-warlike service” and these terms are defined below:
Warlike service covers those military activities where the application of force is authorised to pursue specific military objectives and there is an expectation of casualties. These operations can encompass but are not limited to:
- a state of declared war;
- conventional combat operations against an armed adversary; and
- Peace Enforcement operations which are military operations in support of diplomatic efforts to restore peace between belligerents who may not be consenting to intervention and may be engaged in combat activities. Normally but not necessarily always they will be conducted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, where the application of all necessary force is authorised to restore peace and security or other like tasks.
Non-warlike service covers those activities short of warlike operations where there is a risk associated with the assigned task(s) and where the application of force is limited to self defence. Casualties could occur but are not expected. These operations encompass but are not limited to:
- Hazardous. Activities exposing individuals or units to a degree of hazard above and beyond that of normal peacetime duty such as mine avoidance and clearance, weapons inspections and destruction, Defence Force aid to civil power, Service protected or assisted evacuations and other operations requiring the application of minimum force to effect the protection of personnel or property, or other like activities.
- Peacekeeping. Peacekeeping is an operation involving military personnel, without powers of enforcement, to help restore and maintain peace in an area of conflict with the consent of all parties. These operations can encompass but are not limited to:
- activities short of Peace Enforcement where the authorisation of the application of force is normally limited to minimum force necessary for self defence;
- activities, such as the enforcement of sanctions in a relatively benign environment which expose individuals or units to 'hazards' as described above;
- military observer activities with the tasks of monitoring cease-fires, re-directing and alleviating cease-fire tensions, providing 'good offices' for negotiations and the impartial verification of assistance or cease-fire agreements, and other like activities; or
- activities that would normally involve the provision of humanitarian relief.
1.Humanitarian relief in the above context does not include normal peacetime operations such as cyclone or earthquake relief flights or assistance.
2.Peace making is frequently used colloquially in place of Peace Enforcement. However in the developing doctrine of Peace operations, Peace making is considered as the diplomatic process of seeking a solution to a dispute through negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation or other peaceful means.
Overseas Deployments Reviewed
The overseas deployments reviewed, together with the recommended changes in the classification of service for these deployments, are briefly detailed below:
The British Commonwealth Occupation Force Japan (BCOF). BCOF was formed after the formal surrender of Japan. Service in BCOF for ADF personnel extended from 13 February 1946 up to and including 27 April 1952.
With the exception of those who were awarded either the Naval General Service Medal or the General Service Medal with the relevant bomb or mine clearance clasp, qualifying service eligibility for the service pension was not extended for service in BCOF.
Service by members of the Permanent Defence Force serving with BCOF was operational service up to 2 January 1949. After that date, their service with BCOF was regarded as peacetime service and compensation cover was provided under Commonwealth Employees Compensation legislation. However, the period of operational service of other members of the forces serving with BCOF extended to 30 June 1951.
This different treatment of members of the Permanent Defence Force who served with BCOF constituted an anomaly and the period 3 January 1949 to 30 June 1951 inclusive is to be classified operational service for the purposes of the VEA. These members will be eligible for disability pension and treatment cover for injury or disease sustained during this period of service.
RAAF Service UBON Base Thailand. A RAAF contingent was stationed at the Royal Thai Air Force base at Ubon in Eastern Thailand from 31 May 1962 until 31 August 1968. The contingent was deployed as part of Australia's commitment under SEATO, solely in the air defence role of Thailand.
However, Ubon was also a USAF base which was a potential target for communist insurgents. In this circumstance, the Australian contingent was exposed to some risk that was considered over and above that normally expected on peacetime service, but there was no danger incurred from hostile forces of an enemy.
Consequently, this period of service will be reclassified as operational service for the purposes of the VEA, and personnel concerned will be eligible to claim treatment and disability pension for any injury or disease incurred during this service. However, such service will not count as qualifying service eligibility for the service pension.
Far East Strategic Reserve (FESR). ADF Naval personnel on seagoing vessels were excluded from eligibility for repatriation benefits for this period of service with FESR; HMA Ships served with FESR over the period 1955 to 1960.
Although several ships were involved in action against the communist terrorists in the form of bombardments and patrols, the absence of any strike-back capability for the terrorists meant that the crews of HMA Ships did not incur danger from the enemy.
Nevertheless, the level of risk associated with seagoing naval service with FESR was found to be above that experienced on normal peacetime duties and such service will be classified as operational service. This classification will extend eligibility for treatment and disability pension for any injury or disease sustained during this service. However, as these personnel clearly did not incur danger from hostile forces of the enemy during their period of service, it will not count as qualifying service eligibility for the service pension.
Service in Vietnam after 11 January 1973. Australia's operational presence in Vietnam officially ended on 11 January 1973 when the bulk of the Australian war effort was withdrawn. Eligibility for repatriation benefits for service in Vietnam ceased on and from that date.
However, members of the Australian Embassy Guard Platoon served past that date until the Platoon was withdrawn mid-1973. In addition, in the months leading up to the fall of Saigon in 1975, RAAF aircraft and personnel were operating in Vietnam assisting in the movement of refugees and Red Cross supplies. The last Australians left Vietnam by RAAF aircraft on 29 April 1975.
Conditions in Vietnam did not become less dangerous after the official withdrawal of Australian troops in January of 1973, and they may have in fact become more dangerous. Consequently, members serving in Vietnam after 11 January 1973 until 29 April 1975 when the last member of the ADF left the country, will be accorded full repatriation benefits ie, eligibility for treatment and disability pension, and qualifying service eligibility for the service pension.
Service in Korea after the Armistice. ADF personnel continued to serve in Korea after the Armistice on 19 April 1956. This is the end date for eligibility for full repatriation benefits under the VEA, including eligibility for the service pension.
Personnel who served in Korea after the Armistice were to have been employed in a non-operational role as it was considered that service then had returned to normal peacetime conditions. The exception to this was service as military observers in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
The level of risk in the DMZ, while it has fluctuated, has clearly been above that of normal peacetime duties. Consequently, ADF service carried out within the DMZ will be classified as operational service. This classification will extend eligibility for disability pension and treatment. However, as no danger was incurred from hostile forces of an enemy, qualifying eligibility for the service pension has not been extended.
Malayan Emergency. Over the period 1950 - 1957, there were two areas where ADF were deployed in support of the Malayan Emergency operations, but who were not covered for repatriation benefits; RAAF personnel engaged in defence signals intelligence duties on Labuan Island, just off the coast of North Borneo about 1300 kms from the Malayan peninsula; and ADF ground staff based in Singapore with No 38 (Transport) Squadron and No 1 (Bomber) Squadron, and on the staff of the Headquarters Far East Land, Air and Naval Forces.
For Singapore based personnel, there was some level of risk above that experienced during normal peacetime garrison type service. Consequently, such service will be classified as operational service for the purposes of the VEA. This will extend eligibility for treatment and the disability pension with the more generous standard of proof. However, as there was no danger incurred from hostile forces of the enemy, such service will not count as qualifying service for the service pension.
In the case of service with the signals detachment on Labuan Island, although RAAF personnel were supporting the Malayan operations, there was no evidence of Malayan communist insurgents having any influence outside the Malay Peninsular. Consequently, members of the detachment faced no operational danger during their period of service, and repatriation benefits will not be extended to this group.
Army Personnel in North East Thailand. ADF Army personnel served in areas in North East Thailand during the period 1964 to 1966. Personnel were engaged primarily on work associated with Australia's commitments under SEATO. The nature of this service involved similar risk as that experienced by RAAF service at Ubon in the period that was above that normally experienced on peacetime service. Consequently, this service will be classified operational service.
This classification will extend eligibility for treatment and the disability pension with the more generous standard of proof. However, as there was no danger incurred from hostile forces of an enemy, such service will not count as qualifying service for the service pension.
Naval Service in Vietnam January 1962. HMA Ships Vampire and Quickmatch visited Saigon over the period 25 - 29 January 1962, some six months before the start date for operational service for Vietnam, 31 July 1962, and coverage for repatriation benefits.
While their passage up-river to Saigon was uneventful and presented no difficulties, they were escorted by armed patrol boats and light reconnaissance aircraft, and there was an element of risk due to the internal conflict in the country.
This risk was above that expected during normal peacetime service and the period of the visit will be classified as operational service. This classification will extend eligibility for treatment and the disability pension with the more generous standard of proof. However, as there was no danger incurred from hostile forces of the enemy, such service will not count as qualifying service for the service pension.
ADF service on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. In 1980 at Vanuatu's request, Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel were sent to assist in the restoration of control over the island of Espiritu Santo. At this time, there were ADF personnel on loan to the PNGDF. Approval was given by the Australian Government for these ADF loan personnel to be deployed to Vanuatu with the PNGDF contingent on the strict understanding that these personnel were not to be used in active combat situations.
The level of risk associated with this duty was therefore akin to normal peacetime duties, and repatriation benefits will not be extended.
UN Sponsored Activity. ADF personnel have been involved on a number of UN sponsored activities that were not recognised under the provisions of the VEA. These activities listed below will now be declared peacekeeping forces under the provisions of the VEA from the dates shown:
- Military observers with the UN Commission on Korea (UNCOK) from 1 January 1949,
- Military observers with the UN India-Pakistan Observation Mission (UNIPOM) from 20 September 1965,
- Military observers with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from 23 March 1978, and
- UN border relief operation in Cambodia (UNBRO) from 1 February 1989.
Personnel will be eligible to claim the disability pension and treatment for any injury or disease sustained on this service. However, as there was no danger incurred from the hostile forces of an enemy, qualifying service eligibility for the service pension has not been extended.
Service with the UN Temporary Executive Authority in West Irian (UNTEA) was also examined. However, the role of the Australian detachment was to assist World Health Organisation medical personnel to control an outbreak of cholera in an isolated area, and the nature of this operation was more akin to normal peacetime emergency relief service. Consequently, it did not satisfy the criteria for classification as a peacekeeping force under the provisions of the VEA.