Military Covenant


DFWA, along with the national leadership of the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) is proposing the development an “Australian Military Covenant”.  A proposed Covenant is currently the subject of discussions between ADSO and the Government.

Some time ago the DFWA set out to describe what made service in the Australian Defence Force a unique occupation. The discussion around service in the ADF had become clouded by a range of views describing the characteristics of military service many of which could also be attributed to employment in the various police and emergency services.

The discussion centered around the concept of The Unique Nature of Military Service .. see links below to discussion papers on this subject.  A brief Facts Sheet on this topic is also available.

The community’s general understanding of the uniqueness of service in the ADF had been blurred to the point where military service was being equated with employment in the police and emergency services. The object was to clarify what the crucial element making service in the ADF unique was.

Essentially the uniqueness is brought about by the surrender of the individual’s basic human rights under Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in 1948 to which Australia is a signatory amd the liability to be ordered to apply lethal force against another human being.  In no other occupation is the surrender of this basic human right demanded nor is the legal obligation to obey an order to apply lethal force imposed.

The call to develop an “Australian Military Covenant” follows on from an understanding of this uniqueness and is a way of spelling out the mutual obligations between the Nation and its service men and women.

The proposed Australian Military Covenant is an instrument designed to articulate the, to date, largely unwritten mutual obligations between the Nation and the members of the Australian Defence Force. It will promote greater awareness and understanding within the general community of the demands placed on ADF members as well as the community’s expectations of the ethos and standards demanded of its Australian Defence Force members. It will also help highlight the qualities and skills ex ADF members bring to the workforce and encourage commerce and industry to give favourable consideration to employing  spouses of ADF members and discharging members. It is a natural facet of the emerging ADF flexible workforce model.


Most will not have missed that the Australian Military Covenant has had some recent media attention in recent days. First last week when the Labor Opposition announced certainly to our surprise as to timing that they would legislate to introduce such a document. Then came Katter’s Australian Party Senator (Fraser Anning) on Wednesday advancing a motion in the Senate to have a Covenant legislated by the anniversary of the Armistice of WW1 (11 Nov 18). To the Government’s credit, it was a date that we had convinced them that was a fitting one to proclaim the nations commitment to the Australian Defence Community.  
DFWA President Kel Ryan has emphasised to the Minister and the DVA Secretary the following:

  •  ‘No Disadvantage Principle’. During the recent period of detailed consideration of the wording of the Covenant, this important aspect had been removed in early drafts of the Australian Military Covenant. While it is reasonable to suggest that this could be included in the underpinning legislation, that may not be enough to cement the Covenant as an acceptable one to all the members of the Australian Defence Community. This is a covenant for all Australians and should not be open to criticism, it must be beyond challenge.  It is certainly not a covenant only for those currently serving in the ADF.  
  • An Australian Military Covenant. Given the above, it is or should be a ‘Military Covenant’ not a ‘Veteran Covenant’. Recent suggestions to refer to it as a veteran covenant is unacceptable ….
  • The Australian Military Covenant must be enshrined in the VEA, MRCA, DRCA and all other veteran related legislation. It should be prominent in the many and various submissions and papers we as a community make to government. It is the centre piece of who we are and what we do on behalf of the nation and our respective communities. 

The latest wording of that Covenant is HERE.




242 Update - August 2009
Defence Budget Blowout - Let's make sure that proposed solutions don't impact negatively on Defence families ! - The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission: Where's the balance ? - VIP Visits to Operational Areas - The Unique Nature of Military Service
240 Update - June 2009
"Domicile of Choice" - Amalgamation of the ComSuper Board - The Budget - the Good and the Bad - MSBS MBLs - Statements of Principles for Gulf War Syndrome - ADF Medical Records - The Unique Nature of Military Service
16 JULY 2008
17 JANUARY 2012
Review of Defence Annual Report 2010 - 11 DFWA Submission