QUESTIONS and ANSWERS for F-111 fuel tank maintenance workers
- Q 1: Background information
- Q 2 - 8: Tier classification
- Q 9 -10: Compensation
- Q 11 -15: Health Care
- Q 16 -19: Ex-gratia payments
- Q 20-21: Other matters
What has changed following the Government Response to the Parliamentary Inquiry?
New changes and benefits
- For those with Tier 1 and Tier 2 classification: The SHOAMP Health Care Scheme (SHCS) has reopened. The counselling program has been extended to include increased sessions, and a program of group counselling sessions will commence shortly. The only change to the ex gratia payment scheme has been to extend it to include the estates of deceased Tier 1 and Tier 2 persons, who died prior to September 2001.
- For those already with Tier 3 classification: Reopened SHCS – covers health care treatment costs for specified illnesses while a compensation claim is being determined; extended counselling services available (both group and individual sessions).
- For those with rejected Tier applications: Expanded definition of Tier 3, to now include pick and patch workers and others involved in F-111 fuel tank maintenance work.
- Evidence requirements are now easier, with statutory declarations accepted as part of a claim (see the statutory declaration guidelines for further information).
- DVA is reviewing all previously rejected applications for Tier classification. (This will occur automatically. You do not have to do anything, except to tell us if you have changed address since your application, or you have new/further evidence to provide).
- Many of you may have recently received a letter notifying you of the Government Response, and the new measures. Please call 1800 555 323 if you need to discuss your letter with the F-111 staff, or if you did not receive a letter.
What has not changed
- Tier 1 and Tier 2 definitions have not changed.
- The ex gratia payments scheme has not changed – members classified as Tier 1 and Tier 2 are still the only ones eligible to receive the ex-gratia payment. The ex-gratia payment amounts remain the same.
A detailed copy of the Government Response is available on this website
What is a Tier classification?
Tier classification is the first step in the process to determine your eligibility for benefits such as compensation, health care and the ex-gratia payments schemes.
You can be classified as Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3. Only personnel who worked on one or more of the four formal deseal/reseal programs can be classified as Tier 1 or 2 (and therefore be eligible for a lump sum payment under the ex-gratia scheme).
Persons classified as Tier 1, 2 or 3 are all eligible for the SHOAMP Health Care Scheme. This covers the costs of health care for specific illnesses related to F-111 fuel tank maintenance work, while a compensation claim is being determined.
Even without Tier classification you can continue the process of claims lodgement - although without Tier classification the processes and legislation you claim under are different.
Full details of each Tier are contained in the Tier pages of this website. There is also a Factsheet (F111- 02) available; or, you can phone the F-111 Team at DVA on 1800 555 323 and we will post one to you.
Which Tier definitions have changed?
Only the definition for Tier 3 has changed and the only change there is to broaden Categories one and three.
How do I apply for a Tier classification?
You can apply to have your service classified by completing D9021 Application for Tier Classification by an F-111 deseal/reseal program participant or F-111 fuel tank entry maintenance worker. You can download the form, or you can phone the F-111 Team at DVA on 1800 555 323 and we will post one to you.
Am I eligible for Tier classification if I worked on F-111 fuel tank maintenance?
Your service must correspond with one of the categories in the Tier definitions to be eligible. You can check the Tier definitions here.
You can apply to have your service classified by completing D9021 Application for Tier Classification by an F-111 deseal/reseal program participant or F-111 fuel tank entry maintenance worker. You can download the form or you can phone the F-111 Team at DVA on 1800 555 323 and we will post one to you.
Am I eligible if my late husband/partner worked on F-111s?
Your husband/partner’s service must correspond with one of the categories in the Tier definitions to be eligible. You can have your husband/partner’s service classified by completing D9022 Application for Tier Classification by the estate of an F-111 deseal/reseal program participant or F-111 fuel tank entry maintenance worker. You can download the form or you can phone the F-111 Team at DVA on 1800 555 323 and we will post one to you.
I previously claimed compensation but was rejected because I was not classified in a Tier. Do I have to make a new claim?
If you were previously rejected for tier classification but have now been assessed as Tier 1, 2 or 3 classification, DVA will automatically conduct a review/reconsideration of your compensation claim and advise you of the outcome. Please contact us if you have not received a letter from us. (If you have changed your address since your previous application, you need to inform DVA of your new address/contact details. Also, we may need to contact you if we need more information from you to make a decision).
Who can help me with my Tier classification application?
Members Support Coordination Office
Ph: 1800 558 022
Or you could contact a local ex-service organisation. They may also be able to help with any compensation claims you wish to lodge.
I have never applied for compensation before - but I worked on F-111s and I am suffering from ill-health/medical conditions - how do I apply? How do I claim compensation?
If you are a current or former ADF member and you wish to claim compensation for one of the 31 specified conditions related to F-111 fuel tank maintenance work, you should first complete a Tier classification form, D9021 Application for Tier Classification by an F-111 deseal/reseal program participant or F-111 fuel tank entry maintenance worker.
You should also lodge a D2020 claim form - Claim for Rehabilitation and Compensation, clearly marking the form at the top with the words F-111 worker.
More information is on the Compensation page, telling you which Act/s you can claim under.
Can I use a statutory declaration with my application?
The use of statutory declarations recognises the particular issues that may be encountered by F-111 fuel tank maintenance personnel, in the absence of official records. Fact sheet F111-05 explains how to use statutory declarations in these cases. The fact sheet is available on this website, or you can phone the F-111 Team at DVA on 1800 555 323 and we will post one to you.
If you have evidence (see fact sheet) of your F-111 fuel tank maintenance work, you do not have to use statutory declarations, although you can if you wish to (eg, where your evidence is perhaps not strong). However, if you have no work-related evidence, then you will need to use statutory declaration/s for your claim.
We ask for a statutory declaration from yourself, and a second statutory declaration from someone who can corroborate your statement, eg from a co-worker, supervisor or commanding officer. If you cannot remember the name/s of such persons, or if you cannot contact them, please provide your own statutory declaration and call the DVA F-111 implementation team on the number above. We will try to find evidence, or contact your nominated persons, or provide an alternative person to corroborate your statutory declaration.
What are the specified conditions?
There are specific medical conditions/illnesses for which you can claim compensation under particular legislation (see below), without needing to prove the link between your illness and your work. In other words these are conditions where liability is automatically accepted by Government, making it easier for you to claim.
If you are making a compensation claim, the Government accepts liability for any of these 31 specified ill-health conditions, using special provisions in the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, commonly known as SRCA. Under the SHOAMP Health Care Scheme the Government will pay for your treatment costs while your claim is being decided. (Arrangements are different if you claim under the VEA).
In some circumstances where your compensation claim is rejected, the SHOAMP Health Care Scheme will continue to cover the treatment costs for a specified condition.
You can also get health care treatment costs covered for alcohol/drug dependence, under the SHOAMP Heath Care Scheme. But while alcohol/drug dependence is covered for health care treatment costs, it is not on the list of 31 specified conditions for automatic acceptance of compensation claims.
What if I am suffering from a condition that is not on the list?
If you have conditions, other than the 31 specified conditions, that you believe have been caused by your service, you can still claim compensation and should follow usual claiming procedures. Claim forms are available at www.dva.gov.au or you can call 133 254 so DVA can post one out to you.
What is SHOAMP?
SHOAMP is the name for the Study of Health Outcomes in Aircraft Maintenance Personnel - commissioned in 2001, as a response to the Air Force’s F-111 Board of Inquiry. SHOAMP findings were reported in 2004. You can find more information about the study via the F-111 website - Inquiries and Studies menu.
What is the SHOAMP Health Care Scheme (HCS)?
The SHOAMP Health Care Scheme (HCS) is a health care program that covers the costs of health care treatment, while compensation claims are being determined; it also provides counselling services for personnel who were involved in F-111 deseal/reseal and fuel tank maintenance work.
Counselling services are also available to family members of F-111 workers as well as other personnel employed at RAAF Base Amberley at the time of the F-111 deseal/reseal programs.
What counselling services are available?
The VVCS - Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service is a specialised, free, confidential Australia wide service for veterans and their families. VVCS can help you work through issues such as stress; relationship and family problems; other lifestyle issues; emotional or psychological issues associated with your military service. Counselling programs (not F-111 specific, as yet) include:
- individual, couple and family counselling
- after-hours crisis telephone counselling via Veterans Line
- case management services
- group programs for common mental health issues – anxiety; depression; sleep disorders; anger management
- psycho-educational programs for couples, including a residential lifestyle management program.
Please phone VVCS on 1800 011 046 if you need such assistance.
What are ex gratia lump sums and who can access them?
The ex-gratia payments are lump sum payments of $40,000 and $10,000 (dependent upon time spent inside the fuel tanks), paid to those who were part of the formal deseal/reseal programs, and who have been classified as Tier 1 or 2 participants.
Has the ex-gratia amount changed?
No. The report by the Parliamentary Inquiry did not recommend increasing the amount of the ex-gratia payments. (Tier 1 personnel remain eligible for $40,000 and Tier 2 personnel remain eligible for $10,000).
If an F-111 fuel tank maintenance worker is deceased, and he/she died prior to 8 September 2001, the Estate of the deceased can now claim for an ex gratia payment which will be paid if the deceased person’s F-111 work is classified Tier 1 or 2.
Why aren’t pick and patch workers eligible for ex gratia payments?
The Government did not extend the ex-gratia scheme further, deciding instead to focus on adverse health effects for all F-111 workers, including pick and patch workers.
My application for the ex gratia payment was rejected last time, do I have to apply again?
The eligibility requirements (rules) relating to ex-gratia payments have not changed. What has changed are that applicants can now supply statutory declarations as part of their evidence to support their claim.
If you applied for Tier classification previously, and it was rejected, you do not have to reapply now. DVA is automatically reviewing all previously rejected Tier classification applications to see if people meet the new definitions, (that allow access to health care and compensation and, for Tiers 1 and 2, eligibility for ex gratia payments). You may be contacted as part of your reconsideration process, to ask whether you have new/further evidence supporting your claim.
DVA will determine your Tier classification and advise you. If you have not heard from us by the end of July please call 1800 555 323 (it may mean that we are yet to undertake your reconsideration; or, that we have done so, but do not have your latest address).
If you were classified previously as Tier 3, and wish to be reconsidered for Tier 1 or Tier 2, please write to us and provide any additional information to support your application for a higher Tier classification.
Is it possible that the full extent of F-111 fuel tank-related health issues will not be apparent for years to come?
There is still much that is unknown about the causes of the medical conditions associated with the F-111 deseal/reseal processes and other fuel tank maintenance work. That is why the Government has asked the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs to monitor incoming claims, and to look for any trends that indicate evolving (or late onset) health conditions affecting F-111 personnel into the future. The Department of Defence is also continuing with its research.
I worked on fuel tanks of other RAAF aircraft, for example Hercules and Orions. What is the Government doing for me?
The Tier classification, the SHOAMP Health Care Scheme and the Better Health Program are only designed for F-111 workers and their families. The Parliamentary Inquiry specifically distinguished the unique working environment of the F-111 aircraft. The Department of Defence is continuing to support further research into the health implications of working with aviation turbine fuels, which may be relevant for other aircraft. For further information on this research contact the Department of Defence on 1300 333 363 or the Defence Centre for Occupational Health on 02 6127 2086.