In 1994 the Australian Government requested the Repatriation Commission, in consultation with veterans' organisations, to prepare legislation to reform the process of decision making about disease causation. The aim was to create a more equitable and consistent system of dealing with claims for disability pensions received from Australian veterans and their dependants. One of the outcomes of the legislative reform was the formation of the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) which is an independent statutory authority responsible to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.
The RMA consists of a panel of five practitioners eminent in fields of medical science. Their role is to determine Statements of Principles (SOPs) for any disease, injury or death that could be related to military service, based on sound medical-scientific evidence. The SOPs state the factors which "must" or "must as a minimum" exist to cause a particular kind of disease, injury or death.
In carrying out its duties the RMA is bound by relevant sections of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986: PART XIA.
The SOPs are disallowable instruments which are tabled in both Houses of the Australian Parliament and they are binding on the various decision makers. The matters of fact relating to an individual veteran's case, including the nature of service and any connection between eligible service and the factors in the SOPs, are determined by the various decision makers. These decision makers include the delegates of the Repatriation Commission, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, the Veterans' Review Board and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.