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Warlike Service

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Warlike service

VEA section 5C(1)

MRCA section 6(1)(a)

Warlike service is a service type found under both the VEA and MRCA.  It is service determined to be warlike by the Minister for Defence. A determination takes the form of a legislative instrument and can be made in relation to past, current and future operations.

What kinds of service are declared Warlike?

The types of service that the Minister has determined to be warlike operations are generally those military activities where the application of force is authorised to pursue specific military objectives and there is an expectation of casualties. Such operations can encompass but are not limited to:

  • a state of declared war;
  • conventional combat operations against an armed adversary; and
  • peace enforcement operations.

What eligibility does Warlike Service provide?

Warlike service is qualifying service under the VEA and provides access to the service pension, where all relevant criteria are met. It is also operational service under the VEA and defence service under the MRCA, which means it provides eligibility to claim for compensation for injury, disease and death under both the VEA and MRCA, using the more generous beyond reasonable doubt standard of proof.

If an operation is declared warlike, for a person to access benefits and entitlements associated with warlike service it only needs to be shown that the person or the person’s unit was assigned for service on the operation.

What does it mean to be assigned for service on a Warlike operation?

In the context of warlike service, the term assigned for service refers to the Defence Force process by which a person or their unit is allocated to a military operation.  In order to determine whether a person has warlike service from an operation that has been declared to be warlike, their service record needs to show that they or their unit was assigned for service on that operation.

This assigned for service requirement is not as strict as the allotment process. The only requirement is that the Department of Defence provide evidence that the member was assigned. No formal instrument is required.

Service in Vietnam Southern Zone

There is a Declaration of Warlike Service for those who served in Vietnam (Southern Zone) between 12 January 1973 and 29 April 1975.  As this was not a single operation, those who come under this Declaration may have their service in Vietnam (Southern Zone) recorded in a number of different ways. 

An example of one of the units which served in South Vietnam during this period is Headquarters Richmond Detachment S. This unit was an RAAF air transport detachment established to provide humanitarian assistance to the South Vietnamese Government prior to the North Vietnamese entry into Saigon in late April 1975.  The detachment operated primarily from Saigon and was initially based there, relocating to Bangkok as the security situation deteriorated. The detachment was constituted at short notice due to the urgency of the situation, which means records are lacking.  However, Defence has advised that a reference to 'HQRICDETS' in service records is to be taken as confirmation that a person served in South Vietnam with Detachment S.

Future Operations

Since 1997, declarations of warlike service have replaced the use of allotment for duty in operational areas. Declarations of warlike service have the advantage of not requiring legislative amendment and referring to a type of service recognised under both the VEA and the MRCA. It is expected that most future operations will be declared warlike or non-warlike only.  

All warlike and non-warlike operations since the introduction of the MRCA in 2004 receive two declarations, one under the VEA and one under the MRCA.  This is because income support is still provided through the VEA, while compensation for injury, illness or death is mostly provided through the MRCA for operations from 1 July 2004 onwards.