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C39/2005 Special Mission Determinations


DATE OF ISSUE:  3 November 2005

Special Mission Determinations


The purpose of this instruction is:

  1. to clarify that only the Repatriation Commission (the Commission) has the legal authority to make a decision on what constitutes a “special mission” as defined in section 5C of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA); and
  2. to list those groups that have undertaken a “special mission”.

Definition of a Special Mission

The special mission provisions in the VEA have the effect of extending eligibility to include certain persons who were not members of the Forces during World Wars I and II.

Section 5C of the VEA says that a:

special mission means a mission that, in the opinion of the Commission, was of special assistance to the Commonwealth in the prosecution of a war to which this Act applies.”


The power of the Commission to form an opinion on what constitutes a special mission is not delegated.  Each case or group must be individually submitted to the Commission for a decision.

Service Eligibility

A person who is determined to have been on a “special mission has rendered operational service under section 6A(2) of the VEA.  If the person faced danger from hostile forces of the enemy while carrying out a “special mission”, this gives rise to qualifying service under section 7A(d) of the VEA.

Groups on a Special Mission during World War II

The following groups are considered to have been on a special mission during World War 2:

  • Members of the Citizen Forces with continuous part-time service;
  • Representatives of philanthropic organisations who were attached to the Forces and accredited by the relevant Service Department:
  • The Australian Red Cross Society;
  • The Young Men's Christian Association;
  • The Young Women's Christian Association;
  • The Salvation Army; and
  • The Australian Comforts Fund.
  • Commonwealth (Australian Government) employees who were attached to the Forces and accredited by the relevant Service Department.  The Commonwealth employers were in the main:
  • The Australian Broadcasting Commission (in respect of personnel of the field broadcasting unit);
  • The Department of Home Security (camoufleurs attached to the RAAF); and
  • The Department of Information (official war correspondents and photographers).
  •       Civil aviation personnel (RAAF reserve) who were employed in forward areas;
  •       Telegraphist employees of Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Ltd., who were attached to the Royal Australian Navy; and
  •       Canteen staff employed by contractors on His Majesty's Australian Ships.

Instruments determining that these groups are to be treated as if full-time members of the Defence Force have previously been issued.  They are located in the Legislation section of CLIK at:

  • Service Eligibility ? Ministerial Determinations ? member of a defence force ?  WW2 Philanthropic
  • Service Eligibility ? Ministerial Determinations ? member of a defence force ?  continuous full time service ? WW2 part-time and reserve forces

Groups not on a Special Mission during World War II

The Repatriation Commission has determined that the following groups were not on a special mission:

Employees of  Cable and Wireless/ Telcom

Cable and Wireless is a civilian British organisation that had a contract to supply communications, through radio and cable networks, to the British forces during World War II.  The Telcom organisation was formed in 1944 to enable employees of Cable and Wireless to accompany members of the armed services to locations outside of Britain.  These Telcom personnel remained civilians at all times and had no military status although they did wear a uniform and were given “officer rank” in case of capture by the enemy.  For more information see DI C47/2002.

Groups NOT on a Special Mission during World War II cont.

Post Master General (PMG) Employees on the “SS Mernoo” During World War II

The SS Mernoo was a ship under charter to the Commonwealth Government during World War II.  The PMG employees on the SS Mernoo were contracted by the Department of the Army to lay cables.  This work was undertaken as a separate entity. The PMG employees on board were not under military command nor subject to military discipline, rather, they answered to officials within the PMG Department.

Procedure for  special mission claims

All cases where a claim relating to a special mission is received MUST be referred, in the first instance, to the VEA Compensation Policy Section, Veterans' Compensation Branch in National Office.

Further information

Please contact Fiona Tuckwell on (02) 6289 1153 if you have further queries.

Carolyn Spiers

Branch Head

Veterans' Compensation

3 November 2005