Australian Defence Force service, detailed (ADCP)
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) consists of regulars and reservists, and this variable provides a detailed breakdown of current and previous service for both. The ADF 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.
Persons aged 15 years and over
|1||Currently serving in the regular service only|
|2||Currently serving in the reserves service only|
|3||Currently serving in the regular service and previously served in the reserves service|
|4||Currently serving in the reserves service and previously served in the regular service|
|5||Previously served in the regular service only|
|6||Previously served in the reserves service only|
|7||Previously served in both the regular and reserves service|
|8||Has never served in the Australian Defence Force|
Number of categories: 11
Not applicable (@) comprises:
- Persons aged 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?
How this variable is created
This variable is created 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), the current service is prioritised
- Current service in both the regular and reserves service, the 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.
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 group the following categories together:
- 5 Previously served in the regular service only
- 6 Previously served in the reserves service only
- 7 Previously served in both the regular and reserves service
The Australian Defence Force service question is not designed to capture breaks in service and data should not be used for this purpose.
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 (ADFP)