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Continuous Full-Time Service

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What is Continuous Full-Time Service?

VEA section 5R(1)(b)

Continuous full-time service under the VEA means service as a permanent member of the Australian Defence Force or the equivalent in the forces of a Commonwealth or allied country.  Under MRCA it refers only to service as a full-time reservist for an agreed period.

Who has Continuous Full-Time Service?

Most regular members of the Defence Force (Army, Navy and Air Force) are appointed on a continuous full-time basis and thus meet the criteria for continuous full-time service. In addition, under sections 5R(1) (a) and (b) of the VEA, members of the Forces and civilians who would not otherwise meet the criteria can be deemed by Ministerial Instrument in to be members of the Defence Force who rendered continuous full-time service for a particular period or type of service rendered. 

Reservists who elect to serve on a continuous full-time basis

Under the Defence Act 1903, a member of the Reserve Forces may make a voluntary undertaking to serve on a full-time basis for an agreed period and are accepted. Service under such an arrangement meets the definition of continuous full-time service and no Ministerial determination is necessary for the service to be recognised as such.

Regular Army Special Reserve (1940s and 1950s)

Service in the Regular Army Special Reserve, which was a component of the Permanent Military Forces in the 1940s and 1950s, is considered continuous full-time service.

60 and 90 day training camps

Periods spent on 60 and 90-day training camps are not considered continuous full-time service for reservists.  However, they are regarded as continuous full-time duty for permanent members of the Defence Force.  If a permanent member is called up immediately on the completion of one of these camps and subsequently, without a break in service, renders operational service, the period of the camp is also operational service.     

Who does not have Continuous Full-Time Service?

The following groups do not meet the requirement for continuous full-time service:

  • Members of the citizens forces during World War 2 where service in such forces is not deemed to be continuous full-time service by ministerial instrument; and

  • persons who serve part-time, (such as members of the Reserve Forces) where such service is not deemed to be continuous full-time service by ministerial instrument.

What eligibility does Continuous Full-Time Service provide?

On its own, continuous full-time service does not confer any eligibility to claim under the VEA.  It must always exist in combination with at least one other requirement. Continuous full-time service is a component of a number of different types of service under the VEA. 

Continuous full-time service IS required under the VEA for most categories of operational service, for qualifying service in relation to submarine special operations and to Allied and Commonwealth veterans, and for defence service, except for hazardous service and British Nuclear Test Defence Service.  In all cases, continuous full-time service is one of only a number of criteria which must be met before a person can be found to have rendered one or more of these types of service.

Continuous full-time service is NOT required under the VEA for peacekeeping service, hazardous service and warlike and non-warlike service. It is also not required for qualifying service except in relation to submarine special operations and Allied and Commonwealth veterans. While qualifying service includes service in an operational area while allotted for duty in that area, it does not require that the service rendered was continuous full-time service.

Under the MRCA, continuous full-time service does not relate to eligibility.  It is a term used for the purposes of calculating payment amounts and determining appropriate rehabilitation and transition management. 

How does it relate to Effective Full-Time Service?

Effective full-time service is a term used in the VEA in relation to defence service. Effective full-time service is the same as continuous full-time service except that it excludes absences of more than 21 days during which the person is not paid, is absent without leave or undergoing trial or imprisonment for an offence.

What effect do determinations of continuous full-time service have?

Determinations of continuous full-time service under section 5R(1) (b) of the VEA declare that the members or units of the Defence Force that are the subjects of the determinations are to be treated as if they were rendering continuous full-time service, for the purposes of any part of the VEA specified within the determinations.  This allows people who would otherwise not have met the continuous full-time service criterion for the specified part of the VEA to be deemed to have met it. They still must also meet any other criteria set out in the relevant part of the VEA before they can be eligible to access benefits and entitlements relating to that part.

People who are the subject of this type of determination are generally members of the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force Reserves.