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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Reporting, assessment and compassionate issues

Where there is a crisis, illness, injury or death in the family, the ADF member may receive special provisions and support from Defence. This is termed compassionate consideration, and may include granting the ADF member compassionate leave, travel costs, special return to Australia or their unit, or cancellation or alteration of a posting order.

When is compassionate consideration given?

ADF members may be eligible for compassionate consideration when experiencing the death or life-threatening illness or injury of a close relative, urgent personal circumstances, or serious problems in domestic or financial affairs at home when their presence would improve the situation.

When these issues arise, the first thing the ADF member should do is discuss their circumstances with their supervisor or immediate superior, who can give them guidance or advice about support available and can start the process to grant compassionate support.

In the case of illness or injury of the ADF member, there is also support available through AUSDIL.

Related: Emergency support

Social work reports

DCO provides advice, assessments and reports for Command to help with your decision-making in regard to compassionate consideration or the welfare of Defence families. The reports give you as much professional and objective information as possible to help you make the best decision for all parties.

The reports can cover the following circumstances:

  • general situation, examining the family situation or personal issue impacting on the member’s service or welfare,
  • compassionate leave or compassionate travel,
  • compassionate return to Australia or unit (CRTA or CRTU),
  • compassionate or preferential posting,
  • remote locality or overseas posting, or
  • separation from Defence at the member's own request.

When Command requests an assessment, a Defence Social Worker will talk with the member and their family, gather any supporting documentation required and compile a report. The report will give you a professional examination of the family's situation and recommendations for support to be provided. 

The assessment and reporting process requires the cooperation and informed consent of all parties involved and is conducted in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 . All social work reports are classified 'Staff-in-Confidence'.

Related: How to request a social work report

Compassionate support

Support given for an emergency situation can include compassionate leave allowances, assistance for travel within Australia, and special returns to Australia (where the member is posted or deployed overseas) or the member's unit (where the member is on training or exercise).

Compassionate leave is special leave that may be granted to an ADF member in the instance of the death or serious illness of a close relative. Up to five days per year of compassionate leave may be accorded. Members granted compassionate leave may also be eligible for a compassionate travel allowance.

Compassionate travel reimburses a return journey within Australia for a member, their partner or close relative, in the event of very serious illness or death. Other exceptional circumstances may also justify compassionate travel, such as a family or personal emergency requiring the member's presence.

Requests for compassionate returns to Australia or the unit (CRTA or CRTU) are passed from the National Welfare Coordination Centre to the appropriate DCO for assessment.

For longer term compassionate issues, where the nature of the problem may be ongoing or prolonged rather than a crisis or emergency, Command may cancel or alter the member’s posting order (usually for a specified period). In the Navy this is referred to as a Compassionate Posting, in Army a COPAS Report, and in Air Force a Request for Preferential Treatment. 

We can also assess the family’s suitability for remote locality or overseas postings, including their ability to manage in the gaining location for the full tenure of the posting.

For more information about this support, contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on  1800 624 608.

Related:  Pay and Conditions Manual .