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New rules for recognising contemporary unwed Defence families

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Unwed Defence families will no longer need to produce truckloads of evidence to prove their relationship exists when a new policy comes into effect on 1st July.

The new Defence Determination (2016/15) aligns requirements for recognition of non-married relationships to those that are used across government agencies such as Centerlink.

Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, the acting Chief of the Defence Force said that the change reflects the Australian community’s expectations of a modern and inclusive Defence Force.

“Defence is committed to policies that support a contemporary and diverse workforce. This policy change ensures equity in accessing conditions to those that serve in the Australian Defence Force," Griggs told The Mandarin.

"We also wish to be clear to those joining the Australian Defence Force that our policies are aligned with the Australian community."

In the internal DEFGRAM 205/2016, Rebecca Skinner, the Deputy Secretary for Defence People Group wrote that decision makers will generally only need to see one piece of evidence of the relationship to make a decision, and that single piece of evidence can include relationship certificates issued by state and territory governments.

The strict pre-requisite for partners to co-habitate in a single common residence for 90 days has been removed, which DEFGLIS identified as the primary barrier preventing many contemporary unwed families from being recognised by Defence.

The number of evidenciary documents that demonstrates a person is living with their partner on a genuine domestic basis has been reduced from four to one.

After the 1st of July, members who wish to apply for recognition of their de facto partner or family, can complete an application form and attach one piece of evidence.

The new determination also allows Defence to impose changes to a member's benefits if it becomes aware of a change in a relationship, or in instances where a serving member providing incorrect information about their relationship.

The term 'interdependent partner' has also been dropped, and has been replaced simply with the term 'partner.'

Fact sheets to assist Defence members and decision makers are currently being developed, and will soon be released along with an update to a webform that will support the policy implementation.

“It is important that the information and fact sheets provided to our Australian Defence Force members are clear and support the best implementation of this important policy,” said Skinner.

The Defence Instruction DI(G) PERS 53-1 - Recognition of interdependent partnerships will be withdrawn on 01 July 2016.

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