Same-sex partners of Defence Force personnel will not be included in a new program aimed at helping the spouses of Army, Navy and Defence Force employees find work.

The Services Workforce Access Program For Partners, launched recently by minister for Veterans’ Affairs Danna Vale, will help over 5,500 married and de facto partners of Australian Defence Force servicemen and women find employment in new posting locations.

But gay couples need not apply, Peter Gandolfi, media adviser with the office of the minister for Employment Services, told the Melbourne Star this week.

Gay couples will be precluded from a range of options under the program including professional job search help, paid training, reimbursement for child care costs, child care assistance and internet assistance for those posted to remote locations.

Partners who have been relocated as a Defence-recognised partner of an Australian Defence Force service member on posting to a new locality on or after 1 July 2003 and are seeking employment, are eligible to use the SWAPP initiatives, Gandolfi said.

As it reflects current policy, this definition only entitles married members and those with a Defence-recognised de facto relationship to access SWAPP.

It does not recognise same-sex couples.

The Defence Department has an agreement with federally funded transition-to-work providers through the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations to provide spouses with individually tailored assistance to improve their prospects of getting paid employment.

Australian Democrats senator Brian Greig said the discrimination was a continuation of the government’s refusal to recognise military personnel as having same-sex partners.

The ban on lesbian and gay people serving in the military was lifted in 1992, so it’s been 11 years since gay people could be part of the military, Greig said.

However, that reform did not flow into partnership recognition for same-sex couples in the military.

This is one of the more significant areas of discrimination under commonwealth law because of the extraordinary circumstances and relocation requirements of Defence Force personnel.

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