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Health and Wellbeing in the Defence Health System

The Defence health system is designed to provide members of the ADF (permanent and Reserves). Their families, partners and children with access to medical care both on and off base.

The Defense Health Agency is a joint, integrated Combat Support Agency that enables the Army, Navy. Air Force medical services to provide a medically ready force in both peacetime and wartime. It uses the principles of Ready Reliable Care to advance high reliability practices. Drive innovative solutions and cultivate a culture of safety.

Health and Wellbeing in the Defence Health System ADF members

In Australia, the ADF employs over 4000 full and part-time uniformed health personnel (doctors, nurses, allied health professionals) to provide on-site health services. They are based at a range of Australian Defence Force bases across the country and also in community-based organisations.

ADF personnel are exposed to a diverse range of occupational and environmental hazards that can lead to illness and injury. The ADF’s Military Health Promotion programs provide education. support for ADF members on a variety of issues including first aid. Personal hygiene and dental care, heat and cold stress management. Sunburn and insect bite prevention, alcohol and other drug awareness, and diet and weight control.

There are significant policy gaps that need to be addressed for the benefit of the Defence and ADF workforce. One such gap is reproductive health, specifically whether current policy supports the best possible outcomes for female ADF members.

Health and Wellbeing in the Defence Health System Life after the ADF

When you leave the Australian Defence Force (ADF) there is a whole new world out there. From finding and paying for health care, to living arrangements and organising a job. It can be difficult to adjust to the new civilian world.

Despite these challenges, life after service is a positive experience for many of our ex-serving members. Compared to the rest of the Australian population, ADF members have better financial outcomes and a higher rate of homeownership.

ADF personnel are also less likely to suffer from asthma than the general population, which is probably a reflection of their physically active lifestyles.

Women in the ADF also tend to report better mental health than the rest of the population. A recent study found that only 1.7 per cent of female ADF personnel reported a chronic mental health condition, compared to 4.8 per cent for the general population.

Young Adults

Young adulthood is a critical period of development, bridging adolescence and independent adulthood. This is a time when individuals are expected to take on new responsibilities and obligations, making them susceptible to challenges that can have significant effects on their lifelong health, well-being, and development.

This is especially true of marginalized2 young adults. They are more likely to experience a number of barriers to achieving successful transitions to adulthood, including poverty, low school completion, inadequate social and economic support, family responsibility for young children, and criminal justice involvement.

As the report notes, heightened attention to these young adults’ needs and requirements is essential in order to improve their well-being. Investing in their health, safety, and well-being will also increase their educational and employment outcomes.

Ex-serving members

The Department of Defence has a range of health and wellness programs to support the well-being of members and their families. In particular, they have a dedicated website that provides information on a variety of mental health services for military personnel and their loved ones. In addition, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs offers a wide range of health and wellbeing products and services to assist veterans and former servicemen and women.

Ex-serving members will be happy to know that if they are moving on from the Australian Defence Force, they can still enjoy exclusive cover options that make a real difference in their post-service lives. For example, the best health insurance for ex-serving military members combines Medicare and DVA benefits into one streamlined package, which is a major saving on the cost of multiple policies. Among other things, this offer includes a 10% premium reduction for the first 12 months following your discharge. You can find out more about it by calling 1800 335 425 or by contacting your local Defence representative.

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