Australian Defence Force marching at Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney
Australian Defence Force marching at Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney

The new protocols will make it easier for same-sex partners to have their relationships recognised.

The Department of Defence has committed to recognising same-sex relationships in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The new Defence Determination will commence on 1 July and aligns requirements for recognition of non-married relationships with those that are used across government agencies such as Centrelink.

Couples in de facto relationships were previously required to produce four pieces of evidence to prove they were in a relationship, as well as live in a single common residence for 90 days.

In an internal memo that has been circulated amongst Defence personnel, those in de facto relationships, including same-sex couples, can now apply for a relationship status by submitting a single evidentiary document, such as a registered relationship certificate.

The cohabitation period is no longer a requirement.

The Department of Defence will also remove the word ‘interdependent’ from its policies after ADF members complained that it reduced the dignity of their relationships. It will be replaced with the term ‘partner.’

Fact sheets to assist Defence members and decision-makers in the changes are currently being developed, and will soon be released along with an updated web form that will support the policy implementation.

Acting Defence Chief Vice Admiral Ray Griggs said the changes bring the Department of Defence in line with most workplaces in the Australian community.

“Defence is committed to policies that support a contemporary and diverse workforce,” he said in a statement to The Mandarin. “This policy change ensures equity in accessing conditions to those that serve in the ADF.”

“We also wish to be clear to those joining the ADF that our policies are aligned with the Australian community.”

The Department of Defence has been misaligned with the Federal Government’s policy on unmarried couples for seven years and has been criticised by the Australian National Audit Office for discrimination for this reason.