The Army Relief Trust Fund
In 1947, the Australian government formed the Army Relief Trust Fund to cater to the Australian army’s urgent needs (serving or retired) or that of their dependents. It was initially called AMF relief trust fund (Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund).
Originally, the money put in the trust fund was sourced from canteens’ profit during World War II. Nowadays, money is sourced from interests charged on loans and investments.
The trust fund is secured for efficient distribution through the Ministry of Defence who oversees its secretarial and management functions.
There is a Secretariat for the trust fund, and it is located in Canberra. It is run by a board of trustees, which consists of officers of various ranks. They are appointed voluntarily by the Ministry of defence.
The trust fund offers relief in the form of loans. There are two types of loans in this category which are Relief loans and General loans.
This loan is provided to individuals who can prove their current hardship due to reasons beyond their control or unforeseen circumstances. The term ‘difficulty’ is relative; thus, the trustees will typically consider each application on its own merits. Relief loans precede general loans and are therefore paid first.
The first condition of seeking a relief loan is that you must not be a serving member, and those who have left the Army must have done so for at least eighteen months, except the reason for application is dire. Also, the trust body may advance the relief loans to a serving member’s dependents in case of dire help or dependents of ex-service members experiencing difficulty with finances.
Applications are subjected to review by the secretariat and board of trustees in general.
General loans are the typical loans taken for projects or a worthy cause. Some of the reasons for taking available loans are to undergo construction projects, pay for legal fees, medical expenses, furnishing, and repairs.
The trust charges a fee known as FMC (funds maintenance contribution) on available loans but below the rate offered by Australia’s reserve bank.
To access a general loan, such applicant must have served in the Military for at least a year, seek employment validation from his supervisor and commanding officer.
Payment of Loans
An individual must complete an application for loans and seek approval before the trust body makes payments. Applications are usually made electronically, but the email addresses provided must be one for defence purposes.
Payment of loans is on a fortnight basis, although this may not apply to relief loans because of the sense of urgency that accompanies it. Also, the trust fund board’s secretary decides whether the loan is a relief loan or not. Essentially, a person may only access the loan once, and the limit per withdrawal $5000.
Sometimes, the number of applications received is more than the available amount in the trust funds. In this case, the secretariat ensures applicants do not wait for more than three pays.
Repayment of Loans
Loans must be repaid within at least two years or earlier, depending on the parties’ agreement.
Any member with unpaid loans before leaving ARA must report to the secretariat.