Veterans' case files – Fact sheet 54

The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), known before 1976 as the Repatriation Department (1917–74 and 1975–76) and Department of Repatriation and Compensation (1974–75), has responsibility for functions such as the provision of repatriation services, medical and hospital treatment, and payment of pensions and allowances to eligible veterans and dependants.

Case files, sometimes known as repatriation files or DVA case files, were created for each veteran who sought the services of the department, and may include medical, hospital, clinical treatment or pension files. Sometimes these different types of case files are incorporated into one set of papers, but in most cases they are kept separately.

The files may contain personal information on such matters as the veteran's physical or mental health, disabilities, and domestic and financial affairs. Because much of this information may be personally sensitive, veterans' case files are not always available for public access.

A fact sheet is available that outlines how the National Archives provides access to information in veterans' case files that is in the open access period.

World War I veterans' case files

World War I veterans' case files document the veterans' treatment by the Commonwealth government in the depression years following the war. They commonly illustrate the types of injury suffered by the veterans in World War I and may include references to gassing or to shell shock.

Provided the veteran is dead, the files are generally suitable for release, although some information may be exempted to protect the privacy of a surviving spouse or other family members. When applying to the National Archives for access to these files, please specify the State in which the veteran is likely to have received DVA benefits or treatment.

World War II and later veterans' case files

Because many World War II veterans, or their spouse or siblings, are still alive, DVA case files for World War II veterans or servicemen and women from later years are not suitable for general public release. Access is available for the veteran or the family of the veteran as described below.

If a DVA case file is about you, you are entitled to seek access under the Freedom of Information Act. You should contact your nearest DVA office directly.

Next of kin seeking access to these files may also contact DVA and explain their need for access. Only DVA can make decisions about access under the Freedom of Information Act.

Department of Veterans' Affairs services

If you have a question about benefit entitlements, you should contact the Veterans' Affairs Network, an office within the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The Network has offices in all Australian capital cities and many regional cities.

DVA also circulates a quarterly newspaper, Vetaffairs, which provides information of interest to Australian war veterans and their families. Copies are available through veterans' organisations or through offices of the Department.

Records about defence service held by the National Archives

The following fact sheets refer to records held by the Archives relating to service with the Australian defence forces:

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2014