For most people who have served in the Australian Defence Force, their service is a significant part of their life. Often, members of the force choose to pre-plan their own funerals to lessen the strain on their loved ones should they pass. However, if no plans exist, financial and funeral-planning support is available.
Payments to dependents
The ADF offers bereavement payments or financial compensation to people who were financially dependent on a member of Australia’s Defence Force prior to their death. In some cases, they may also pay for some of the funeral costs.
Funeral lump sum payments
Families can typically receive up to $14,000 to spend on the funeral if:
- The person who died was a permanent ADF member.
- They were a reserve member who died during, or due to, service.
- A former member who reached a specific rank before they left the ADF.
In certain circumstances, if the ADF agrees, other members may also have their funerals paid for.
Depending on the circumstances in which the ADF member has died, they may need to be transported to a different location. If the member passed in Australia, the ADF may pay to transport the body to an Australian or overseas location of their choice. Equally, if they died overseas, the ADF may cover the costs to return the body to Australia in certain circumstances. Given that expense involved in transporting the deceased interstate or even internationally, this could indeed be a meaningful saving to those that remain.
Making funeral arrangements
When a member dies, the Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS) will contact the next of kin to discuss the funeral arrangements and offer support. A Military Support Officer can also help with organising and coordinating any military components of the funeral.
When a veteran dies, The Australian Government’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) offers bereavement payments, funeral benefits and other assistance, under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA).
A maximum one-off payment of $2,000 is usually given to families to help with the funeral costs of an eligible veteran or dependent. This usually includes wakes, memorial ceremonies, burial or cremation costs and transportation of the body from the place of death.
You can see if you are eligible for other payments here.
Defence Member Family Support (DMFS) is Available
We know that planning a funeral for a loved one can be distressing, especially when the passing is unexpected. If you’re planning a funeral for a Defence Force member or a Veteran and you need some assistance, contact the DMFS helpline on 1800 624 608. The helpline is open 24/7 and is staffed by qualified professionals.
Remember that you don’t have to make all the arrangements alone. Plenty of financial and emotional support is available during this difficult time. You may find enlisting the help of a psychologist, a counsellor or a therapist helpful and healing for you and your family, and try to remember to be kind and patient with yourself as you experience and navigate your grief.