Overview of Veterans Legislation

Contributed by Robin Creyke and Peter Sutherland and current to July 2018.

The Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (Cth) (VEA) is the principal legislation which governs entitlements to pension or compensation for a service-related injury, disease or death occurring prior to 1 July 2004. The VEA is a successor to the Repatriation Act 1920 which provided repatriation benefits for Australian veterans of World War 1.

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (Cth) (MRCA) governs entitlements for all service-related injuries, diseases or deaths which occurred on or after 1 July 2004. The MRCA should be read in conjunction with the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 (Cth) which provided for injuries and aggravations which span 1 July 2004.

Compensation for injury, disease and death in peacetime service in the ADF between 1949 and 2004 was paid under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth) (SRCA) and its predecessor Acts, the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930 (Cth) (the 1930 Act) (3 January 1949 – 30 June 1971) and the Compensation (Commonwealth Government Employees) Act 1971 (Cth) (the 1971 Act) (1 July 1971 – 30 November 1988). On 12 October 2017, an entirely new Act, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (Cth) (DRCA), was created as an exact mirror of the SRCA and has replaced that Act in its entirety in respect of ADF members and ex-members.

This distinction in compensation regimes between active service (VEA) and peacetime military service (SRCA) was removed between 7 December 1972 and 7 April 1994 and injured full-time service members could opt for either scheme, with off-setting arrangements in place to prevent double payments. The Military Compensation Act 1994 (Cth) closed this access to dual entitlements on 7 April 1994 and created a Military Compensation Scheme for ADF members and ex-members which was essentially the SRCA scheme with some additional entitlements.

This complex history of military compensation legislation, and the VEA, MRCA, SRCA and DRCA, is discussed in two books published by The Federation Press: R Creyke, P Sutherland Veterans’ Entitlements and Military Compensation Law (3rd edn, 2016); and P Sutherland, JO Ballard Annotated Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (11th edn, 2018).

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