Latest release

Service with the Australian Defence Force: Census

Information on service with the Australian Defence Force

Reference period
2021
Released
28/06/2022
Next release Unknown
First release

Key statistics

  • More than half a million Australians (581,139) have served, or are currently serving, in the ADF.
  • There are 84,865 current serving members and 496,276 former serving members.
  • One in twenty (5.3 per cent) of Australian households reported at least one person who had served or is serving in the ADF. 
  • 3,159 (3.7 per cent) of currently serving Australian Defence Force members, and 11,610 (2.3 per cent) of previously served, identify as having Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin.

(a) Includes Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Second Australian Imperial Force, National Service and NORFORCE. Excludes service for non-Australian Defence forces.

(b) Count of persons aged 15 years and over. Excludes overseas visitors.

(c) Includes previous service in the regular service and/or reserves service.

Source: Australian Defence Force service (ADFP), Age (AGEP)

Service in the Australian Defence Force(a) by state and territory(b), 2021 Census
 Currently serving in the regular serviceCurrently serving in the reserves servicePreviously served and not currently serving(c)Total ever served(d)
New South Wales18,0076,506127,657152,170
Victoria6,8663,97394,393105,234
Queensland16,8036,339139,973163,112
South Australia3,9402,05341,86147,852
Western Australia4,4962,41355,50762,417
Tasmania29067017,51518,473
Northern Territory3,8745475,1109,534
Australian Capital Territory5,9772,08414,16422,220
Australia(e)60,28624,581496,276581,139

Note that there are small random adjustments made to all cell values to protect the confidentiality of data. These adjustments may cause the sum of rows or columns to differ by small amounts from table totals.

(a) Includes Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Second Australian Imperial Force, National Service and NORFORCE. Excludes service for non-Australian Defence forces.

(b) Count of persons aged 15 years and over. Based on place of usual residence. Excludes overseas visitors.

(c) Includes previous service in the regular service and/or reserves service.

(d) Includes currently serving in the regular service, currently serving in the reserves service and previously served in the Australian Defence Force.

(e) Total includes Other Territories.

Source: Australian Defence Force service (ADFP)

Census data stories and concepts

Articles and information papers that related to this topic include:

How Census data is used

Learn how Census data helps community groups, businesses and governments make important decisions.

Census data will lead to improved service delivery to veterans and their families

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) supports around 210,000 veterans and their 100,000 dependants.

However, there is currently no comprehensive data on the total number of veterans living in Australia. 

For the first time, the 2021 Census will include a question regarding service in the defence forces. This will give DVA more accurate information on how many veterans live in Australia.

Knowing this will inform the services and support provided to veterans and their families.

Census data will help to better target training and information about caring for veterans to health care professionals.

DVA is one of the largest purchasers of healthcare services in Australia.

Census data will assist DVA to plan and cost future services to ensure veterans and their families are provided with the right services, when and where they are needed.

For example, Census data will help inform the location of training for GPs, psychiatrists and psychologists on awareness and evidence-based treatment of military trauma.

Knowing the geographic spread of veterans will assist DVA to better understand their needs, and to ensure effective treatments are provided in a more targeted and efficient manner.

Census data will lead to improved service delivery to veterans and their families.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are many ex-Australian Defence Force (ADF) members living in remote areas of Australia.

Census data will support the development of a demographic profile of veterans and their families by region and state for use by organisations such as DVA, the Returned & Service League of Australia and other ex-service organisations. 

This will help them provide welfare and support services that meet the needs of both serving and ex-serving members of the ADF and their families.

See more Census stories.

Key questions in 2021 Census

  • Has the person ever served in the Australian Defence Force? 

The questions from the 2021 Census are output into variables. To see descriptions of the variables, including data use considerations, relevant to this topic see the 2021 Census dictionary: Service with the Australian Defence Force.

Data downloads

Data table for Service with the Australian Defence Force data summary

 

    Data table for Census article - Australian Defence Force service

    Post release changes

    11/08/2022 - Census article - Australian Defence Force service

    Characteristics of ADF members: Cell in graph for Household weekly income of people aged 15-64 years, by whether served in the ADF, 2021 corrected (Currently serving (Regular and Reserves) at $400-$499).