Australian Government - Department of Defence - Department of Veteran's Affairs

Important information - Reserve service

As a Reservist you need to be mindful of effective Reserve service requirements, and the implications on your DHOAS benefits of not completing effective service. If you do not complete effective service, you will be deemed separated from the ADF.

For the purpose of DHOAS, effective service as a Reservist involves completing at least 20 days of paid service within a financial year.

Impacts of being deemed separated

If you do not complete a year of effective service during your DHOAS qualifying period, you will break the required continuity of service and you will need to restart your qualifying period from the date you are deemed to be a member again.

If you have finished your qualifying period and you are currently accessing DHOAS, being deemed separated from the ADF could impact on your subsidy tier level, including:

    • If you have not completed 20 or more years of effective service at the time you separate, you will receive your subsidy payments at the tier 1 level (regardless of your tier level before separating). This is in accordance with Item 4 of Section 51(2) of the Act. If you have received a subsidy overpayment you will be required to repay it. 
    • If you have completed over 20 years of service, you will receive your subsidy payments at the tier 3 level.

You can access only one subsidy certificate after the date of your deemed separation. This means:

    • If you subsequently sell your home or repay your DHOAS home loan, and do not have access to another subsidy certificate, you will forfeit any remaining benefits that you have accrued under the Scheme.
    • If you make any other changes that require a new certificate (for example, if you refinance your loan or apply for an increase to your loan), you will forfeit any benefits that have accrued to you.

If you have a break in service and then rejoin the ADF you could be subject to DHOAS rejoining provisions, as defined under Section 11 of the DHOAS Act. Your DHOAS eligibility and entitlement could be reduced or even cancelled, depending on the length of your break. 

Reservists and accruing entitlement

Reservists should be aware that you will not accrue a year of entitlement to DHOAS until you have actually completed the 20 days of paid Reserve service within the financial year.

Therefore, if your current DHOAS service credit is expended before you can complete the required service to accrue further entitlement, your subsidy payments will cease. The subsidy will not be paid in advance of you completing the effective service, on the assumption that this will occur later in the year.

You will accrue another year of service credit only after you next complete at least 20 days of paid Reserve service within a financial year.

Please note that you don’t have to wait until the end of the financial year to receive the service credit. If you complete the 20 days earlier in the year then you will be granted the additional DHOAS service credit at that date.

For example, if your 20th day of Reserve service within the 2013-14 year is completed by 1 September 2013, you will accrue your one year of entitlement on 1 September 2013 (not 30 June 2014).

You need to advise DHOAS using the Change of Circumstances form. 

Recognition of Reserve service for tier progression

When you complete a service milestone that enables you to progress to a higher subsidy tier, please advise DHOAS using a Change of Circumstances form.

Please note, your subsidy payments may not be calculated on the higher subsidy tier until you have submitted evidence of your effective service via the completed form to DHOAS. Tier progressions are applied from the date you reach the milestone.

It is important not to assume that Defence will advise DHOAS of your service milestone.

If you do not advise DHOAS yourself, your service milestone will be assessed using the data received from Defence at the end of the financial year when the Reserve service of current DHOAS recipients is audited. 

Transferring from Permanent ADF to Reserves

If you are transferring from the Permanent Force to the Reserves, it is important that you complete effective service within the financial year of your transfer. This means, you need to serve at least 20 days of service within that year. These 20 days can be a combination of Permanent and Reserve service, or 20 days of Permanent or Reserve service.

Note: Each combined service eligibility case will be considered on individual merits.

For the purpose of DHOAS, if you do not complete effective service, you will be deemed to be separated from the ADF. Your status as a serving member will not be able to be reinstated until after you next complete at least 20 days of effective service within a financial year.

Note: Unpaid Permanent service (leave without pay) is not considered effective service and cannot be counted towards the 20 day requirement.

Being deemed separated from the ADF can have a significant impact on your DHOAS entitlements.

Important information is also available in the factsheet for reserve service.

Audit of Reserve service

All Reserve members who have received subsidy payment during a financial year, will have their service reviewed prior to the end of that financial year. Members have until the end of each financial year in which to complete effective Reserve service. Members who cannot provide evidence that they have completed effective service will be deemed to be separated from the ADF and sent a letter to advise them of the implications on their DHOAS entitlement.

If you are an enlisted member of the Reserve Forces, including as a Standby or Inactive Reserve or on a CFTS contract, you will be included in the review. This is because the DHOAS Regulations do not differentiate between the classifications of enlisted Reservists.  All Reservists are subject to the same requirements in relation to their DHOAS entitlements.

Members who have not completed 20 years of service at the time they are deemed separated will retrospectively have their tier level reduced to tier 1 (for the ineffective year). This will result in some Reservists having to repay a subsidy overpayment.

Even if you have closed your DHOAS home loan, you are still required to pay back any excess subsidy you received during the financial year that you were deemed separated.

Reservists are advised to let DHOAS know as early as possible if they do not think they will complete effective service. Their subsidy payments can be adjusted accordingly, and they can avoid receiving a overpayment.

The subsidy payments of Reservists with over 20 years of service, at the time of separation, will not be affected. However, all members deemed to be separated will have access to only one more subsidy certificate (all DHOAS subsidy certificates are valid for 12 months from the date of issue).