Veterans of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are an important group of people for health and welfare monitoring, as the nature of military service means their needs and outcomes can differ from those of the general population. While people who are recruited to the ADF are required to be in good health, the unique experience of ADF service means many veterans experience health and welfare challenges above those of the Australian population.

This report outlines what is known about veterans’ health and welfare, highlights information and data gaps, and opportunities to fill them. It is a baseline for reporting to drive data improvement, inform policy development, ensure interventions and services are well targeted and, ultimately, to improve the health and welfare of Australia’s veterans.

A whole-of-population approach to veteran research

The term ‘veteran’ often has a special meaning for people who have served in the ADF, their families and friends, and the wider community. This report uses ‘veteran’ to cover all current, reserve and former serving ADF personnel, whether they have been deployed to active conflict or peacekeeping operations, or have served without being deployed. It presents information on dependants—partners, children and war widow(er)s—where they are included in the data. Past research in Australia has largely focused on certain groups of veterans, based on the conflict in which they were involved (such as the Vietnam War) or the services they receive (such as Department of Veterans’ Affairs, or DVA clients). This report compiles information to build a profile of the whole veteran population.

Understanding veterans’ health and welfare

A person’s health and welfare result from a complex interplay between biological, lifestyle, socioeconomic, societal and environmental factors, many of which can be modified to some extent by health care, welfare support and other interventions. This report uses the ‘veteran-centred model’—comprising seven domains—to understand the factors that influence veterans’ health and welfare.

Where available, information is included for each domain on veterans’ status, predictors of health and welfare, and service use.