De Facto Deal
April 11, 2002
The red tape for recognition of de facto marriages has been cut to ribbons
by new changes to personnel policy.
Instead of requiring 15 items of supporting evidence, ADF members wanting
to gain official de facto status now need only make a statutory declaration
that a de facto relationship has been established, supported by four items
of documentary evidence chosen from a list of 12.
The new policy is the first of a series of important changes signalling
a new era in policy making by the Directorate of Personnel Policy (DPP).
Director of ADF Personnel Policy Col Ross Boyd said DPP have simplified
the policy as much as possible in order to make the process of applying
for official de facto status relatively hassle-free.
"While the new policy makes the process much easier, we had to ensure only
members in legitimate de facto relationships will be able to make use of
the revised policy," he said.
"Out of the 12 options on the statutory declaration, members must select
four. The approving authority - CO or OC - takes note of the four selections
and will then ask the applicant to provide documentary proof of two within
He said the old policy forced members to gather a range of evidence and
then tackle a difficult point-scoring system.
"I have been a unit commander and been in positions where I've had to help
members going through the process - the old system sometimes took weeks
and weeks. All that has gone.
"The new system is also far less intrusive. In order to gain official de
facto status members previously had to produce quite personal information
- we've done away with all of that."
He said because DPP have simplified the procedure, new enlistees would be
able to get de facto relationships approved during the recruiting process.
"This means people will receive their entitlements from the first day of
their military service.
"The old system normally didn't see people getting their entitlements until
they had finished recruit training and initial employment training and were
actually posted to their units."
He said there was no change to the policy on same-sex couples - only male-female
relationships would be recognised.
DPP are revising a number of other policies applicable to all military members
in the ADF.
"We are aware from the results of staff attitude surveys that people are
placing far more emphasis on quality of life and family," Col Boyd said.
"Because of this, we are revising policies so they are more family oriented
and our aim is to bring these policies to the attention of members, commanding
officers and career management agencies."
He said DPP wanted to ensure members were aware of the different policies
available to them and project the policies as an alternative to taking discharge.
"We are also in the process of developing an information 'tool kit' so units
that have appointed retention officers have a range of information and guidelines
readily and easily available to help them."
Pte Kylie Bullion, HQ LSF, recently completed the old process of applying
for official recognition of her de facto marriage and said the procedure
was very time consuming.
"I understand people can be fraudulent so Defence has to make sure people
applying for official recognition are legitimate, however, I found the process
intrusive," she said.
"It took up a large amount of my time and I had to give out very private
information about my relationship.
"The new policy seems much better as it will be less time consuming and
people won't have to divulge personal information, such as private letters."
DPP is currently working on a number of flexible employment policies including
part-time leave without pay, variable working hours and home-based work.
A Maternity Brochure has also been released bringing all relevant information
together in one easy-to-read document, which focuses on flexible employment
policies and is available at medical centres, shopfronts and orderly rooms.
Full details of the new de facto policy can be found in DI (G) PERS 53-1.
Janelle Dunn and Pte Alisha Carr