Latest release

Australian Defence Force service (ADFP)

Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period
2021

Definition

This variable describes whether a person is currently serving or has previously served in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The Australian Defence Force includes:

  • Australian Army (including NORFORCE (North-West Mobile Force))
  • Royal Australian Navy
  • Royal Australian Air Force

This variable also includes people who previously served in the National Service and the Second Australian Imperial Force.

Regular service is considered a person’s main ongoing job, and most roles are full-time in nature.

Reserves service is normally part-time in nature and can include up to 200 days of service per year, depending on the role.

This variable does not capture people who have served in non-Australian defence forces.

Scope

Persons aged 15 years and over

Categories

CodeCategory
1Currently serving in the regular service
2Currently serving in the reserves service
3Not currently serving (but has previously served in the Australian Defence Force)
4Has never served in the Australian Defence Force
&Not stated
@Not applicable
VOverseas visitor

Number of categories: 7

Not applicable (@) comprises:

  • Persons under 15 years

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

Has the person ever served in the Australian Defence Force?

    Has the person ever served in the Australian Defence Force?
    Has Person 1 ever served in the Australian Defence Force

    Include Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Second Australian Imperial Force, National Service and NORFORCE.

    Exclude service for non-Australian defence forces.

    Select all that apply.

    More information

    Person's defence force service

    No

    Regular service

    Yes - current service

    Yes - previous service

    Reserves service

    Yes - current service

    Yes - previous service

      More information

      Additional information relating to the question on: Has the person ever served in the Australian Defence Force?

      More information

      Has Person 1 ever served in the Australian Defence Force?

      Include Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Second Australian Imperial Force, National Service and NORFORCE.

      Exclude service for non-Australian defence forces.

      Select all that apply.

      More information

      Information collected on current and previous service with the Australian Defence Force enables better delivery of services and support for this population group.

      Exclude service that is solely in one of the Cadet arms.

      NORFORCE refers to North-West Mobile Force.

        Example

        Australian Defence Force service example - Regular Service 'Yes - current service' and Reserve Service 'Yes - previous service' options selected.

        Example

        Has Person 1 ever served in the Australian Defence Force?

        Include Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Second Australian Imperial Force, National Service and NORFORCE.

        Exclude service for non-Australian defence forces.

        Select all that apply.

        More information

        Person's defence force service

        No

        Regular service

        Yes - current service (selected response)

        Yes - previous service

        Reserves service

        Yes - current service

        Yes - previous service (selected response)

        How this variable is created

        This variable is from mark box responses to the Australian Defence Force service question. This is a multi-response question and respondents are instructed to mark all applicable responses. In some cases, the combination of responses provided are not valid including:

        • All responses marked
        • ‘No’ and any other response
        • ‘Regular service – Yes, current service’ and ‘Regular service – Yes, previous service’
        • ‘Reserves service – Yes, current service’ and ‘Reserves service – Yes, previous service’
        • ‘Regular service – Yes, current service’ and ‘Reserves service – Yes, current service’

        In these cases, processing rules determine how these responses are coded into the appropriate categories. Where a person marks:

        • All of the response options, the variable is coded to ‘Not stated’
        • ‘No’ and any other response, ‘No’ is rejected and other marked responses are accepted
        • Current and previous service in the same service type (i.e. both in the regular service or both in the reserves service), then current service is prioritised
        • Current service in both the regular and reserves service, then current service in the regular service is prioritised

        The standard retirement age for regular service is 60 years and for reserves is 65 years. The following processing rule is applied for persons aged 65 years and older. Where a person is aged 65 years or older and has marked current Australian Defence Force service (either regular or reserves), then this service is changed to be recorded as previous service.

        This variable is an aggregated version of Australian Defence Force service, detailed (ADCP). The table below shows how the variables are related.

        ADFP Australian Defence Force ServiceADCP Australian Defence Force Service, detailed
        1Currently serving in the regular service1Currently serving in the regular service only
        1Currently serving in the regular service3Currently serving in the regular service and previously served in the reserves service
        2Currently serving in the reserves service2Currently serving in the reserves service only
        2Currently serving in the reserves service4Currently serving in the reserves service and previously served in the regular service
        3Not currently serving (but has previously served in the Australian Defence Force)5Previously served in the regular service only
        3Not currently serving (but has previously served in the Australian Defence Force)6Previously served in the reserves service only
        3Not currently serving (but has previously served in the Australian Defence Force)7Previously served in both the regular and reserves service
        4Has never served in the Australian Defence Force8Has never served in the Australian Defence Force
        &Not stated&Not stated
        @Not applicable@Not applicable
        VOverseas visitorVOverseas visitor

        History and changes

        This is a new variable for 2021.

        Data use considerations

        This is a new question for the 2021 Census. Whilst information outside of the ABS exists about people who are currently serving in the ADF, there is very limited information about people who have previously served. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) knows about those veterans who use DVA services, but very little (if anything) is known about veterans who do not use DVA services. Census data will provide information to enable better delivery of services and supports to veterans.

        To analyse the veteran population, users should look at category 3, ‘Not currently serving (but has previously served in the Australian Defence Force)’.

        The Australian Defence Force requires people to be 17 years and over to join. However, there are some programs available to people aged 17 years or younger and this may be viewed as service with the Australian Defence Force. Responses reported by 15 and 16 year olds for both current and previous service are accepted as reported.

        The non-response rate for Service with the Australian Defence Force (ADCP/ADFP) was 6.0% in 2021.

        Related variables and glossary terms

        • Australian Defence Force service, detailed (ADCP)