This page provides an overview of benefits available to Australian prisoners of war (POWs) and their dependants.
You can also learn about the Prisoner of war recognition supplement.
For the purposes of certain Australian Government payments, a person is eligible for POW benefits if they were interned by the military forces of Japan, Germany, Italy or their allies during World War 2; or by the military forces of North Korea during the Korean War.
Interned means confined in a camp, building, prison, cave or other place (including a vehicle) or restricted to residing within specified limits.
All former POWs who served with the Australian armed forces are eligible for an official commemoration at their site of interment. Further benefits can depend on which of the following groups the POW or dependant belongs to:
- veteran POWs
- civilian POWs
- dependants of deceased POWs
This group comprises those Australian veterans who were interned by:
- the military forces of Japan during World War 2; or
- the military forces of Germany, Italy or their allies during World War 2; or
- the military forces of North Korea during the Korean War.
Veteran POWs are entitled to a range of benefits under the Veterans Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) and related legislation, including:
- a Veteran Gold Card;
- an ex-gratia payment of $25,000, payable to the veteran if s/he was alive on:
- 1 January 2001 (POW of Japan during World War 2), or
- 1 July 2003 (POW of North Korea during the Korean War); or
- 1 January 2007 (POW of Germany, Italy or their allies during World War 2);
- the POW Recognition Supplement which is payable fortnightly to veteran POWs during their lifetime; and
- DVA will pay some residential, home or transition care fees and changes on behalf of the veteran POW, including the following:
Residential Aged Care
From 1 July 2014, if you are living in a residential aged care home:
- DVA will pay your Basic Daily Fee;
- you will be exempt from paying a Means Tested Care Fee;
- depending on your means you may be responsible for making an accommodation payment, you may choose to pay a:
- Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD),
- Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP); or
- combination of both a RAD and a DAP for your accommodation costs; and
- you can choose to pay an extra fee for additional optional services.
From 1 July 2014, if you are receiving a Home Care Package:
- DVA will pay for your Basic Daily Fee; and
- DVA will pay for your Income-Tested Care Fee (if you are liable to pay one).
* Note: - If you were already in residential aged care, or receiving a Home Care Package, prior to 1 July 2014, you will continue under the old financial arrangements.
If you are receiving transition care services, DVA will pay for your Basic Daily Fee.
Short-Term Restorative Care (STRC)
If you are receiving STRC, DVA will pay for your Basic Daily Fee.
Civilian POWs are civilians who, immediately before their internment by the military forces of Japan, Germany, Italy or their allies during World War 2, were domiciled in Australia.
Civilian POWs are eligible for:
- an ex-gratia payment of $25,000, which was payable to the civilian if s/he was alive on:
- 1 January 2001 (POW of Japan during World War 2); or
- 1 January 2007 (POW of Germany, Italy or their allies during World War 2); and
- the POW Recognition Supplement which is payable fortnightly to civilian POWs during their lifetime.
* Note: - A domicile is usually the place an individual considers to be their 'home'. Generally 'home' is the country where the individual was born, raised, educated, worked and where their relatives live.
Where an eligible veteran or civilian POW had died prior to the relevant date for payment of the ex‑gratia payment of $25,000 and their partner was alive on that date, the partner is eligible for the ex‑gratia payment. However, the POW Recognition Supplement is payable only to the former POW.
Widows/widowers of Australian veteran POWs are entitled to a number of other benefits, including the war widow(er)’s pension and accompanying Gold Card, which entitles them to a range of health care for all conditions.
Children (who are under 16, or, if a full time student, between 16 and 25) of a veteran who was an Australian POW and is now deceased are eligible for support under the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme, such as financial assistance, student support services, guidance and counselling. A dependent child may also be eligible for the Orphan's Pension.
For more information, refer to Pension for orphans and war widowed partners and Education Schemes.
This group comprises estates of a deceased POW, or of a dependant of a deceased POW, who has died before receiving the payment to which they were entitled.
Ex-gratia payment – where an eligible POW, or eligible dependant of a deceased POW, dies before receiving an ex-gratia payment to which they are entitled, the amount owing is paid to their estate.
POW Recognition Supplement – upon the death of a person receiving the POW Recognition Supplement, one instalment of the supplement is payable to the estate of the person, being the instalment relating to the fortnight in which the person died.
Certain British subjects known as ‘eligible civilians’ who were detained by the enemy during World War 2 while resident in the Territory of Papua or the Territory of New Guinea may be eligible for some POW benefits.
Any of these civilians who think they may be eligible should contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for further information and advice.