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Family - Joining Defence - Ex-Service Members

Advice provided is general in nature and does not consider your personal circumstances. You should consider the advice in the context of your personal circumstances, or seek professional advice before deciding on any course of action.

Joining Defence

NathanWhiteInformation about Defence Jobs

All Defence Force Job enquiries should be DEFENCE JOBS or call 13 19 01. DEFGLS is unable to provide you with guidance or advice regarding choosing a career that is right for you.

We are however always happy to talk about what it is like to be LGBTI in Defence — we're proud to talk about how we are contributing to the Defence of Australia. You can ask us questions online as well if you'd like to stay anonymous. 

Speaking to a LGBTI Person in Defence

We know that sometimes you want to get in touch with someone with is LGBTI and serving in the Defence Force. We can put you in touch with LGBTI Defence Force personnel who can talk generally about their experience. You might also prefer to join our private Facebook group, where you will meet the online community of LGBTI Defence personnel and their families. Please e-mail us with your request, including your service and the type of jobs you are interested in.

ArmyJust remember, that we can't answer any questions about choosing a job in Defence. Any information provided is general in nature, and you should consider it in the context of your own personal circumstances.

Joining Defence as a Transgender Person or with Gender Dysphoria

The Defence Health Directive on Gender Dysphoria for serving members is currently being progressed through the Health Policy Process. The initial entry standards in HLTHMAN Vol 1 are being progressed through that process concurrently to better reflect current clinical considerations.

In the meantime Defence Force Recruiting is assessing each transgender applicant on a case-by-case basis to ensure consistency with inherent requirements of service and legislation requirements (especially national anti-discrimination legislation).

You should be aware that there can be times where your personal privacy is very limited, particularly during your initial training, on exercise or operations. 

If you think you are being unfairly treated, or unfairly discriminated against through the recruiting process, please contact us, so we can assist with having your case reviewed by appropriate staff in Defence Force Recruiting and Joint Health Command. We will do our best to facilitate fair treatment, but we are not able to advocate on your behalf.

Does Defence allow Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People to Serve?

NavyMarchingThe Defence Force has a diverse workforce and supports the inclusion of all sectors of the population, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  Each year, the Defence Force celeberates diversity and showcases inclusion by participating in the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade.

So you shouldn't worry about your sexual orientation but you definitely should spent time making sure that you choose the career that is right for you, and take up the right opportunity within the Defence Force or Defence Australian Public Service.

What about the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy?

Don't Ask Don't Tell was a US Government Policy which was repealed in 2011.  Australia has never had such a policy.  The ban on same sex-attracted personnel serving in the Australian Defence Force was removed in 1992.

Are there gay-friendly professions?

You should make sure that you spend time choosing the profession that is right for you.  As a Defence member, you will be expected to work within a very diverse workforce, and you will be posted to different units throughout your career.  The demographic and personality of Defence units are very different and people can find varying exeriences with respect to how they are treated. It is important that you are able to work well with others to produce results, and that you have the moral courage to live up to Defence values.
Defence does somewhat mirror the general community, so if you might expect to have a higher concentration of LGBTI personnel in a particular profession, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect similar within the Defence environment. Its important to remember, that critical skill within Defence is an ability to work effectively with everyone to get the job done. There is a requirement and expectation that you behave in an inclusive manner, the same standard of behaviour that would you would expect to receive from others in Defence.

Families

Partners and families, including parents, are encouraged to join DEFGLIS and be part of our community. You might wish to connect with us via social media using the links below.

Air Commodore Tracy Smart (right) and her partner at Mardi Gras 2013.

Same-sex partners undergo the same pressures as all Defence families - we move to a completely new location every few years - with the adding pressure of sometimes being separated from a visible LGTBI community. It can be difficult to form new friendships and get started in your new locality. Sometimes partners can find themselves without connections to the local community and have a hard time meeting like-minded people. Our online community via Facebook means that you never have to struggle too hard to stay connected with the LGBTI community in Defence.

We aim to offer a range of formal and informal networking opportunities in every locality around Australia a few times a year in addition to our annual national events.

We work with Defence Families of Australia to ensure that LGBTI families are included and considered during policy changes.

If you are having difficulty having your relationship recognised, please let us know, so we can try to address the problem with Defence.

Not everyone wants to be out at work. If your partner chooses this, please be aware of the risks of isolation and hiding aspects of your life from people around you. DEFGLIS can be a network for partners and parents where privacy is respected and the Defence member need not be outed.

Remember, if your relationship is not recognised, that means you will have difficulty accessing Defence support services - particularly if the service member is deployed and is injured or dangerously ill. If your relationship is not recognised and your partner is posted, you may have to pay your own way to accompany your partner. If your partner is posted overseas, you won't be entitled to have an Official Passport, and the type of Visa that provided to family members of Defence personnel. If this is might affect you, you should discuss this with your partner.

If you find yourself at a remote posting, have you considered volunteering with DEFGLIS? You might have a range of skills that would benefit the Defence LGBTI community in your local area. Contact us for more information about opportunities.

Corporal James Bonello and his partner at Mardi Gras 2014

Current Initiatives

We worked with Defence People Group to ensure that LGBTI families get a fair go regarding having their relationships recognised. Without access to marriage, it was particularly important for same-sex families that commander discretion is applied in a fair and just manner. DEFGLIS worked for years helped to achieve this outcome in mid-2016.

We are colleagues with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, GLOBE in Melbourne, and Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Business Network to host local networking events. Soon, we hope to progress similar types of professional networking partnerships so there's always something to do, regardless of whether there is a local coordinator in your area.

We also run a private Facebook group where partners and parents can get to know each other and other LGBTI Defence members. We welcome and encourage family members to join DEFGLIS for networking and support.

Veterans

Counselling Services

VVCS provides free and confidential, nation-wide counselling and support for war and service-related mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance and anger.

VVCS will also counselling for matters relating to sexual orientation gender identity.

VVCS also provides relationship and family counselling - including same-sex couples - to address issues that can arise due to the unique nature of the military lifestyle. VVCS counsellors have an understanding of military culture and can work with clients to find effective solutions for improved mental health and wellbeing.

Veterans and their families are encouraged to be aware of changes in mental state (such as increased irritability or restlessness, social withdrawal, reduced concentration, disturbed sleep, increased worry) and to take action at the early signs and seek professional support, not wait to see if they will go away.

Visit the AT EASE website for information about mental health concerns common to veterans and their families.

During business hours 1800 011 046 connects you to the nearest VVCS centre. View the list of VVCS centres.

Outside business hours 1800 011 046 connects you with Veterans Line, the VVCS after-hours telephone crisis counselling service.

Veteran Partner Recognition

Veterans should ensure that their partners are registered and recognised by DVA to ensure they can access support in the untimely event of the veteran's death. This is particularly important for veterans in same-sex relationships where a marriage certificate cannot be produced.

The Gold Card and war widow(er)s pensions are part of the compensation pension package for the veteran's death. In certain circumstances the granting of the war widow pension is automatic.

If DVA have no record of a partner, then a manual application is required following the death of the veteran. This may include proving that a bona-fide relationship existed, which can be quite difficult -- particularly since Australian law does not allow same-sex people to be married and be issued with a marriage certificate recognised by the Commonwealth at a Federal level.

To avoid such issues, it is recommended that veterans ensure that their partner is registered and recognised by DVA, and that contact details are kept current.

The War Widows Guild, Legacy and the RSL are usually able to assist with applications for the Gold Card and war widow(er)s pension. DEFGLIS does not have significant experience in this area, but we will try to make sure that your questions are answered.

Online facilities available at www.dva.gov.au are used to register family information. Veterans can register for a MyAccount so that your information can be updated on line.  Alternatively, you can telephone DVA’s Veterans Affairs Network (VAN)  on 133 254.

On the right hand side of the website under Quick Links are Topic Factsheets. DVA Factsheets provide information about DVA benefits and services. The fact sheets relevant to support for same-sex partners are:

IS09 Relationship Status (clearly outlines policy on same sex relationships)

DP60 War Widow`s and Orphan`s Pension (automatically entitled to the pension and eligible to apply)

The DVA website also provides access to additional support services such as the Benefits Guide and Entitlement self-assessment

Amending Service Records

Personnel who were involuntarily discharged prior to 1992 on the basis of their same-sex attraction can seek to have their discharge paperwork amended to reflect a voluntary discharge. Read more at Defence about how to amend your service records.