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

Qualifying period

You need to complete a qualifying period of service before you are eligible for DHOAS and can start accruing a service credit.

There are different requirements for members of the Permanent Force and Reserves, and lateral recruits from foreign services. 

Special conditions apply if you complete Continuous Full-Time Service (CFTS) or you have a combination of Permanent and Reserve service during your qualifying period.


Qualifying period for Permanent members

  • Two consecutive years of service. 
  • Leave without pay of less than 12 consecutive months can be taken without breaking continuity of service. However, the break will pause credit towards your qualifying period until you restart paid service. Continuity of service is broken if you separate from the ADF and re-enlist. You will need to re-start your qualifying period of two years from the date you re-enlist. 
  • Warlike service does not fast-track the qualifying period of two years.


Qualifying period for Reserve members

  • Four years of effective Reserve service undertaken in consecutive, financial years. 
  • Effective service as a Reservist involves completing at least 20 days of paid service within a financial year.  
  • Continuity of service is broken if the minimum 20 days of paid service is not completed each financial year.  
  • If continuity is broken, you will need to re-start your qualifying period of four years from the financial year that you again undertake effective service.  
  • Warlike service does not fast-track the qualifying period of four years.


Continuous Full-Time Service

  • Reservists can fast-track the qualifying period by completing more than six months of Continuous Full-Time Service (CFTS). CFTS periods of more than six months can be completed within one financial year, or span across two consecutive financial years. This means that in addition to being recognised for one year of effective service (for completing more than 20 days of paid service within the financial year), you also gain one extra year towards the four year qualifying period. 
  • This special condition does not apply to CFTS that is completed prior to taking a break in service of one year or more (which disrupts your continuity of service). 
  • This CFTS bonus does not apply after the qualifying period. Once you have completed your qualifying period, if you undertake CFTS you will accrue the standard one year of entitlement for undertaking one year of effective service. You will not gain another extra year towards your service credit or a higher subsidy tier.


Combined Permanent and Reserve service 

A special condition applies if you transfer from the Permanent Force to the Reserves, or vice versa, during your qualifying period.

The years of eligible service you have completed in the Permanent Force will be doubled if you are counting it towards the four year Reserve qualifying period for DHOAS. And the years of service you complete in the Reserves will be halved if you are counting it towards the two year Permanent qualifying period. For example:

  • If you have completed one year of Permanent service it will contribute to two years of the four year Reserve qualifying period. 
  • If you completed two years of Reserve service, it will contribute to one year of the two year Permanent qualifying period. 


Foreign recruits/service

Members who have joined the ADF subsequent to providing service in the Defence Force of another country may be eligible for DHOAS from the date of joining. 

Eligibility will be determined by the period of seniority awarded to you by a Chief of Staff for your former service. As a general rule, if the Chief of Staff awards you two years or more seniority, you will be eligible for the DHOAS.

However, only your service in the ADF will count towards your subsidy tier level and length of accrued entitlement. That is, if you have completed one year of ADF service, you will have a service credit of one year and be entitled to receive DHOAS subsidy at the tier 1 level.

Example of foreign service eligibility and entitlement

You provided 10 years of service in the Royal Navy up to July 2009 before joining the Royal Australian Navy in July 2010. The Chief of Navy determines that your former service is to contribute five years towards seniority. 

The award of seniority satisfies the DHOAS eligibility requirements. However, your earlier Royal Navy service does not contribute to your service credit or tier level, that is, the period of time that you can receive subsidy payments and the subsidy level that you can receive. You have only accrued entitlement from the date you enlisted/engaged in the ADF.

Given you started with the ADF in July 2010, as at 1 July 2013, you would have accrued three years of entitlement under DHOAS, at the tier 1 level. 

You will become entitled to subsidy assistance at the tier 2 subsidy level should you continue to serve in the permanent ADF until the fourth anniversary of your engagement in the ADF, that is, July 2014.

The timeline that can apply for tier progression in this example is:

  • 1 July 1999 to 1 July 2009 – qualify for DHOAS with recognised Foreign Service (cannot convert Foreign Service into paid ADF service, used to satisfy required qualifying period only where applicable)
  • 1 July 2010 – commence permanent ADF service
  • 1 August 2010 – commence DHOAS payments at tier 1 after completing a minimum one month of paid  permanent ADF service
  • 1 July 2014 -  progress to tier 2 after 4 years of paid permanent ADF service
  • 1 July 2018 – progress to tier 3 after 8 years of paid permanent ADF service
  • 1 July 2030 – retain tier 3 after completing 20 years of paid permanent ADF service

Note: the above timeline is for a permanent ADF member with no breaks, discharges or transfers to Reserve service; and meets the other scheme conditions to be eligible for subsidy payments.