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C17/2010 New Veterans' Entitlements Act Eligibility Criteria for Veterans with Service on Certain Submarine Special Operation



New Veterans' Entitlements Act Eligibility Criteria for Veterans with Service on Certain Submarine Special Operation

Amends DI No.


Replaces DI No.



The purpose of this Departmental Instruction is to provide advice on new eligibility under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) of former ADF members who served on certain submarine special operations in the period 1978 – 1992, and to outline how liability for disability compensation will be determined in cases where continued secrecy prevent the provision of relevant information to delegates.


Between 1978 and 1992, a number of Royal Australian Navy submarines were fitted with specialised intelligence-gathering equipment and deployed regularly in areas to the north and west of Australia.

As of 1 July 2010, service on certain submarine special operations is classified as operational and qualifying service under the VEA, extending entitlement to a variety of benefits under the Act.

Veterans newly eligible

Due to the continued sensitivity around these operations, the vessels in question have not been assigned for duty in an operational area for the purposes of the VEA.  Rather, operational and qualifying service under the VEA will stem from veterans serving on submarine operations and being eligible for the Australian Service Medal (ASM) with the 'Special Ops' clasp.  Defence has advised that personnel on approximately 25% of submarine special operations during the above-mentioned period qualified for this award.

Claims for qualifying service

Veterans with service on the relevant operations, and hence who are eligible or have received the ASM with Clasp Special Ops are eligible for all of the benefits associated with qualifying service, including eligibility for the service pension and automatic entitlement to the Gold Card at age 70.

Claims for qualifying service attributable to service on these submarine special operations will generally be processed in the Brisbane or Adelaide locations. Any claims or queries should be directed to Elizabeth Serisier, extension 48870.

Claims for disability compensation

Given that this service is classified as operational service for the purposes of the VEA, disability pension claims are to be assessed according to the more beneficial, 'reasonable hypothesis' standard of proof.  The Department of Defence has compiled a list of personnel considered by the Royal Australian Navy to meet the eligibility criteria.  This list also includes the general period, (e.g. 1985) in which a veteran served on a relevant operation.  However, Defence will not provide any information regarding the names of RAN vessels involved or the location of operations.  Relating claimed conditions to service will therefore rely on using this general information provided by Defence in conjunction with information contained in service records and related sources usually obtainable through the Single Access Mechanism (SAM).

All claims for disability compensation will be processed in the Adelaide location. Any claims or queries should be directed to Frazer Day (Team Leader Primary Claims), extension 50491.

Where difficulties arise in the determination of claims for disability compensation, these claims should be referred to the Liability and Service Eligibility section.  Please contact Sonia Clark on extension 16071 or Fiona Tuckwell on 11153.

Treatment eligibility under the VEA

Due to the extension of VEA coverage applicable to this service, eligible veterans have access to free treatment under sections 85(2) and 88A of the VEA for malignant cancers, pulmonary tuberculosis and post-traumatic stress disorder irrespective of causation.

As a result of the reclassification as operational service, claims for disability compensation relating to this service will be decided according to the more generous 'reasonable hypothesis' standard of proof.

Decisions relating to psychiatric conditions

The restrictions placed on information relating to these submarine special operations may have implications for the determination of claims for psychiatric conditions. Given the likely need to relate claims for psychiatric conditions to specific incidents that may require additional investigation, processes concerning such claims are the subject of ongoing discussions with Defence. More information on these processes will be made available in the near future.

Sources of further information

As noted above, Defence has provided a list of personnel considered to meet the eligibility criteria. This list incorporates a general period in which the relevant service was rendered, but does not reveal any classified information.

Defence will not provide any information: concerning the location of submarine operations; the timing of submarine operations; the name of the submarine on which the operation was conducted; or the operations the submarines were tasked to conduct. Where a claimant provides details regarding these aspects of their service, they should be reminded of their obligations under Section 79 of the Crimes Act 1914 and to contact the Navy Special Programs office on 02 6265 3663/1065 for further clarification or guidance on what can be discussed with DVA staff.

The Defence list is held by the Income Support section in the Brisbane location.  Enquiries relating to the list should be directed to Elizabeth Serisier at or on extension 48870.

General information relating to the service of individuals should be obtained through the Single Access Mechanism (SAM) as normal.

Any claims made by former ADF members who do not appear on the list provided by Defence should be referred to Sonia Clark, A/g Director, Liability and Service Eligibility Policy, who can be contacted at or on extension 16071.  Such requests should include the name and rank of the claimant; their date of birth; the type of claim; the claim number; and the claim description.

For additional background information regarding the types of injuries and exposures potentially experienced by submariners on special operations, please refer to the report of the Oberon Class Submarine Occupational Hygiene Project, which can be accessed at:


(Original Signed)

Adam Luckhurst

National Manager

Rehabilitation and Entitlements Policy

22 September 2010