The Association was formed in 1959 by serving personnel as the Regular Defence Force Welfare Association for the purpose of promoting and protecting the interests of serving and former members of the Australian Defence Force. This remains our focus although we now extend this purpose to both full time and reserve members. Our principal roles are:
Included in these activities is the provision of advocacy services for serving and retired personnel who may have a claim on the Government under Commonwealth Acts covering superannuation, compensation and veterans' entitlements. DFWA is also recognized as an intervener at the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal.
The Association has a deliberate policy of remaining outside the Defence policy debate, except where it may affect the well-being of serving ADF personnel. Thus, though we have a political dimension, we are careful to avoid being party political and we confine ourselves to issues that have a direct impact on the welfare of our members, those still serving and other ex members of the ADF.
Many policy issues that DFWA becomes involved in originate without warning, from Government initiatives or from external events. The Association's current policy issues are shown on our Home Page as are our Current Policy Objectives.
DFWA is an Australia wide organisation with the National Office located in Canberra and Branch Offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. We also have representatives in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and North Queensland.
Although the original membership of DFWA was comprised of almost exclusively serving personnel, our current membership consists of predominately ex-ADF personnel and their partners although the proportion of serving members is growing. After a number of years where we experienced a declining membership, during 2007 we began a more active recruiting effort and are now seeing a reverse in this trend with a growing number of serving and recently discharged personnel joining. Our members (apart for those still serving) tend to be individuals with a personal interest in Defence in general and service conditions and veteran's policy issues in particular. They share an interest in assisting serving and former service personnel whose personal circumstances may not be as comfortable as most of our members. DFWA doesn't have clubs, and social activities are generally associated with work in support of our objectives.
DFWA members are members of their State or Territory Branch. The Branches and our Vice President Policy Advisers form our National Council and the National Executive is drawn form this Council. Most business is conducted electronically (e-mail or telephone), although a blog will be available shortly on our website.
DFWA maintains a small Relief Trust Fund for the provision of financial support for "the welfare of members of the Association and Regular members of the ADF and Reserves on full time duty or their widows/widowers and dependants who are in urgent and necessitous circumstances involving real hardship". DFWA itself is endorsed by the ATO for charity tax concessions.
Our work is funded by members' subscriptions and donations and we are a predominately volunteer based organisation. DFWA's only paid staff is currently a part-time National Secretary, part-time National Treasurer and the NSW Branch also has a part time paid office worker. The Department of Veterans' Affairs provides small grants the National Office and Branches under various DVA sponsored programs to assist the conduct of our work in supporting veterans.
In accordance with long-established Defence policy – eg DI(G) Admin 35-1 of 1986 – DFWA offices are accommodated in Defence establishments: RMC Duntroon (National Office), Victoria Barracks in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and Irwin Barracks in WA. Our ACT Branch also uses the facilities of our National Office at RMC.
DFWA works closely with other ex-service organisations and is a founding member of the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO), which comprises the DFWA and a number of major ESOs such as the Naval Association of Australia (NAA); the Royal Australian Regiment Associations / Corporation (RARC); the Australian Special Air Services Association (ASASA); and the RAAF Association (RAAFA). For more up to date details on ADSO membership and current issues, please go to their website.
ADSO is strictly non-partisan and does not represent or espouse the policy views of any political party. It was formed to provide a strong voice in order to protect and represent the Defence Family's (past and current serving ADF members and their immediate families) interests by active engagement with the Parliament. The Defence Family's community of interest is about 3 million people.
DFWA is a contributing member of the Australian Council of Public Sector Retiree Organisations (ACPRSO) and shares information with other like-minded non-government organisations including the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association (SCOA).