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Deemed Members and Declared Members

VEA section 5R(1)(a) and (c)

MRCA section 8

Under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA), civilians can be deemed or declared to be members of the Defence Force via Ministerial Determination by the Minister for Defence.  Determinations are made in respect of non-members (civilians) who engaged in or performed acts at the request of, for the benefit of, or in relation to the Defence Force, and it is therefore deemed appropriate that they should be regarded as members for the duration of that service.

A determination provides access to entitlements and benefits to these individuals as if they were members of the Australian Defence Force, where all other relevant eligibility criteria are met.

Under the VEA, a person can be deemed to be a member of the Forces rendering continuous full-time service under section 5R(1)(a), or deemed to be a member of the Forces under section 5R(1)(c).

Under the MRCA, a person is made a declared member by determination under section 8.

What eligibility does being deemed or declared a member provide?

World War II

Under the VEA, where a civilian is the subject of a Ministerial determination under section 5R(1)(a) in relation to service during World War II, they will have eligible war service by virtue of that determination alone.  This is because all members of the Defence Force on continuous full-time service during World War II have at least eligible war service.  Like members of the Forces during World War II, civilians covered by this type of Ministerial determination can have operational and qualifying service if they served outside Australia and incurred danger from hostile forces of the enemy during the period of hostilities.

Post World War II

For service after World War II, a determination deeming a civilian to be a member of the Defence Force under the VEA or declaring a civilian to be a member under the MRCA does not of itself entitle the civilian to benefits under those Acts.  In order to qualify for benefits, the civilian, like members of the Defence Force, must also:

  • Under the VEA: have warlike or non-warlike service, or have been allotted for duty in an operational area. To be allotted for duty a person must have either been named in an instrument of allotment or there must be evidence that they were attached to a unit of the Defence Force that was named in an instrument of allotment.

  • Under the MRCA: have defence service. (For war artists and entertainers this is limited to defence service before 17 December 2015). In the case of declared members, it is most likely that determinations will only have been made in cases where this criterion is met, which in effect means that there are no further requirements under the MRCA beyond a declared member determination.

Which civilians are currently deemed members of the Defence Force?

Civilians who have in the past been found to meet the above requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Members of certain Philanthropic Organisations (as defined in relevant legislative instruments),

  • Artists and photographers commissioned to do work for the Australian Defence Force or Australian War Memorial (as defined in relevant legislative instruments), and

  • Certain entertainers and their support teams (under the MRCA until 17 December 2015 only).

It is important to note that civilian entertainers who provided entertainment to Australian personnel serving in historical overseas conflicts are not covered under the VEA and should not be granted any entitlements under that Act.  Depending on the terms of their contracts, these entertainers may be covered under the SRCA, with any claims administered by Comcare.

War artists and entertainers from 17 December 2015

In December 2015, the Minister for Employment issued the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Definition of Employee - War artists and Entertainers) Notice 2015 with effect from 17 December 2015. From this date, war artists and entertainers who support the ADF on operations, and who are not already covered by another compensation scheme, are covered under the SRCA, with any claims administered by Comcare. This does not apply to accredited representatives of registered charities, persons holding honorary rank, etc., who continue to be covered under the MRCA. 

Declared Members under DRCA

Section 5(3) of DRCA provides that the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs can make a determination to declare certain civilians to be members of the ADF for the purpose of compensation coverage under DRCA. Information on the classes of civilians covered can be found in the DRCA library.