Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Health of veterans, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 16 August 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Health of veterans. Retrieved from https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/health-of-veterans
Health of veterans. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 07 June 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/health-of-veterans
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Health of veterans [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Aug. 16]. Available from: https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/health-of-veterans
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Health of veterans, viewed 16 August 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/health-of-veterans
Get citations as an Endnote file:
On this page
The term ‘veteran’ traditionally described former ADF personnel who were deployed to serve in war or war-like environments. Veterans are now considered people who have any experience in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) including current, reserve, and former (ex-serving) personnel (Tehan 2017).
The unique nature of ADF service can enhance a person’s health and wellbeing; a phenomenon known as the 'healthy soldier effect'. Military personnel are generally physically and mentally fit, receive regular medical assessments, and have access to comprehensive medical and dental treatment as a condition of service. However, ADF service increases the likelihood of exposure to trauma (either directly or indirectly) and affects support networks, for example, separation from family during deployment (Daraganova et al. 2018; Lawrence-Wood et al. 2019).
Research as part of the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme (TWRP) indicates that Australia’s veterans may experience health needs, outcomes and challenges that are different from the rest of the Australian population, including increased risks of mental illnesses and poorer physical health following transition out of regular ADF service (Van Hooff et al. 2019).
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) are responsible for developing and providing a range of services, programs of care, compensation, income support, and commemoration for the veteran and defence force communities and their families (DVA 2021a). DVA provide support, services and information to various people including veterans and their dependents, serving (permanent or reserve) and ex-serving ADF members, and war widow/ers. DVA clients are typically an older population who are in need of financial, health, mental and physical support. These individuals may be likely to have physical, mental, and behavioural conditions needing them to engage in greater health service use compared with non–DVA clients and those who have never served.
The analysis presented in this report uses a range of data and different populations of ADF members, DVA clients, non-DVA clients and those who have never served.
There are many different sources of information on veterans. This can include information resulting from data linkage activities involving the use of administration data from the Department of Defence (Defence) to identify a particular cohort of veterans such as those who have served from 2001, or served from 1985, or from surveys where respondents have self-reported they are a veteran. It is not clear whether all people who have any experience in the ADF would necessarily report themselves as a veteran as their perception could be driven by whether a person’s military experience involved combat or war-like deployments, whether a person served in permanent or reserve service, or how a person separated from military service. This may lead to a person incorrectly believing and consequently self-reporting themselves as not being a veteran (Metraux 2014).
Different sections of this report use different definitions of veterans depending on the available data. Tables 1 and 2 describe the possible options.
Veteran Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients
Within this report, each section references findings from a variety of data sources that use different definitions of veterans. This means that subpopulations of veterans will often differ between sections, depending on the data source used. As such, findings across different sections of this report should not be compared.
For some sections of this report, data are only presented for males due to female population sizes being too small to report. Data on families of ADF members is also very limited and included where possible.
The age profile is different amongst the different populations presented in this report, and as such some data comparisons should be used as a guide only. As at 31 December 2019, the median age for permanent ADF members was 31 and for reserve ADF members was 37, whereas the majority of ex-serving members (79%) were aged 40 years and over (AIHW 2021). Self-reported DVA clients are generally older, with more than half of all self-reported DVA clients being 65 years and over as reported in the 2017–18 NHS and the DVA Annual Report (DVA 2021b), compared with 46% of non-DVA clients. For more information see How many Australian veterans are there?
Measures put in place as part of government responses to COVID-19 during 2020 and 2021 (including closing of international borders, travel bans/restrictions, lockdowns, quarantine requirements, limitations on non-urgent face-to-face work, and resource reallocations) may have affected the health of veterans during 2019–20 and 2020–21.
The short-term and long-term impact of COVID-19 on veteran health is still unknown. Such effects may become apparent in veterans’ data in future years.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) (2021) Serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who have served since 1985: population characteristics 2019, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 11 May 2022.
Daraganova G, Smart D and Romaniuk H (2018) Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme Family Wellbeing Study. Part 1 Families of current and ex-serving ADF members: health and wellbeing Part 1, Department of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Government, accessed 20 March 2022.
DVA (Department of Veterans’ Affairs) (2021a) Department of Veterans' Affairs: Who we are, DVA, Australian Government, accessed 11 May 2022.
DVA (2021b) Department of Veterans’ Affairs annual report 2020–21, DVA, Australian Government, accessed 11 May 2022.
Lawrence-Wood E, McFarlane A, Lawrence A, Sadler N, Hodson S, Benassi H, Bryant R, Korgaonkar M, Rosenfeld J, Sim M, Kelsall H, Abraham M, Baur J, Howell S, Hansen C, Iannos M, Searle A, and Van Hooff M (2019) Impact of combat report, Department of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Government, accessed 20 March 2022.
Metraux S, Stino M, and Culhane D (2014) ‘Validation of Self-Reported Veteran Status among Two Sheltered Homeless Populations’, Public Health Reports, 129(1):73–77, doi:10.1177/003335491412900111.
Tehan, the Hon. D, MP (2017) Joint communique—Veterans’ ministers’ meeting. Media release by Minister for Veterans’ Affairs [media release], Australian Government, accessed 11 May 2022.
Van Hooff M, Lawrence-Wood E, Sadler N, Hodson S, Benassi H, Daraganova G, Forbes D, Sim M, Smart D, Kelsall H, Burns J, Bryant R, Abraham M, Baur J, Iannos M, Searle A, Ighani H, Avery J, Hansen C, Howell S, Rosenfeld J, Lawrence A, Korgaonkar M, Varker T, O’Donnell M, Phelps A, Frederickson J, Sharp M, Saccone E, McFarlane A, and Muir S (2019) Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme Key Findings Report, Department of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australian Government, accessed 20 March 2022.
We'd love to know any feedback that you have about the AIHW website, its contents or reports.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.