Chapter 3 Personnel
Indigenous Participation and Development
Defence delivers a range of programs for Indigenous people, individuals
and communities including: implementation of initiatives and strategies arising
from the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan 2010-14 , and the
whole-of-Government targets set under the Closing the Gap on Indigenous
Disadvantage agenda. Funding for these strategies is provided under the Defence
White Paper 2009.
The White Paper funded two lines of activity aimed at increasing
Indigenous participation in the workforce: assisting Defence to build a
diversified workforce and Force 2030; and meeting Government commitments
to a range of whole-of-Government Closing the Gap economic participation
outcomes. The Defence Reconciliation Action Plan 2010-14 outlines most
of the activities being undertaken by Defence to meet these outcomes.
Overlaying this is the newer Council of Australian Governments agreed target
for all Commonwealth and State entities to achieve a minimum Indigenous
representation of 2.7 per cent of the total workforce numbers by 2015.
The 2010-11 year saw a modest increase in the number of Indigenous
Defence employees. The ADF and APS Defence Indigenous Employment Strategies
encompass initiatives to attract and recruit more Indigenous people from
remote, regional and urban communities throughout Australia. Both strategies
are being reviewed. Significant work has been done to develop a Defence
Indigenous Recruitment strategy. The strategy is currently being considered by
The Defence Indigenous Development Program is now in its third year,
with courses again underway in Katherine and Cairns. This program provides the
opportunity for Indigenous Australians from remote communities to acquire
skills which are transferable back into their communities and enhances the
participants’ ADF enlistment opportunities. Of the two Programs completed in
December 2010, 16 graduates commenced ADF recruitment processes and eight
enlisted in the ADF. All graduates completed a range of vocational training and
skills development, and most gained full time employment post the program.
Programs for 2011 commenced in March with 72 individuals screened and 52
participants selected. As the Defence Indigenous Development Programs are now
in the third year, a review of the direction and outcomes of the program will
be undertaken and the results used for planning future courses.
Defence advised that there is some concern about achieving the target Indigenous
participation rates. Defence advised:
We allocated in this financial
year $11.8 million to the Indigenous program. The Defence records currently
indicate that Indigenous people represent about 0.89 per cent of the total
Defence workforce. It is a little higher in the ADF – 0.96 per cent. So it is
just under one per cent in the ADF. It is 0.53 per cent in the APS. Despite
being committed to Indigenous programs, Defence is not making any long-term
progress in that area.
Defence discussed that one issue is the recording of Indigenous numbers
within the Department. Where individuals self-report, the numbers are less than
when other reporting, such as a non-attributable census, is undertaken.
Therefore, Defence is also focusing on emphasising reporting so that the
Indigenous participation numbers are accurately recorded.
Defence continues to conduct programs to increase Indigenous
involvement. This includes the Defence Indigenous Development program, run out
of Katherine and Cairns in partnership with other Government agencies. Each
program has about 30 participants and, while not all graduates of those
programs join the ADF, many are successful at gaining employment either in the
ADF or other areas. Consequently, such programs assist young Indigenous
Australians to gain employment.
Additionally, Defence runs a number of Indigenous pre-recruit courses
throughout the country, aimed at improving performance in the recruiting
success of Indigenous personnel. There are also a number of familiarisation
courses run across the country, targeted at Indigenous personnel who express an
interest in joining the ADF. There are Indigenous student study tours, and 49
Indigenous graduates will be engaged in the Defence APS through various
graduate programs, cadetships and traineeships in the next year.
The Committee asked how much involvement current members of the
North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) have in the recruitment of Indigenous
personnel into the ADF.
Defence advised that the NORFORCE system works very well. Individuals
come from a community, participate in a military environment, then go back to
their community as trained individuals. Defence observed such individuals:
. . . become role models and then
they attract other members of their community to want to come and enjoy the
same experience. So we have found that to be a self-sustaining way of improving
our recruiting performance in the regional force surveillance units. We have used
these members to go back to their community to help us pull people into those
programs . . . the Defence Indigenous Development Program and the
pre-recruitment courses for full-time service in the ADF.
Defence noted that the NORFORCE program has been developed over a number
of years through engagement at a personal level with tribal elders and
Indigenous communities. Consequently, it is also fragile as it is based around
personal relationships. The positive aspect of the Regional Force Surveillance
Units, based partly in home locations, has been that they enable individuals to
remain involved with their community. However, attracting individuals to
service in the Regular Army, where they have to travel to Kapooka or Duntroon
for military training, has been more challenging. While the Indigenous
Pre-Recruitment Course has assuaged some concerns for those individuals who
undertake them, the take up rate of these programs has been less than hoped.
The Committee queried whether Defence liaises with local Indigenous
leaders or directly with young individuals to discuss joining the ADF.
Defence responded that the initiatives within the Indigenous recruitment
strategy have been developed by a reference group that includes Indigenous
elders from across the country.
The Committee sought an update on the Indigenous cadet program,
particularly the success of using Indigenous liaison officers to support the
Defence advised the Indigenous Participation Program (IPP) was overseen
by the Directorate of Defence Force Cadets, then Cadet Policy Branch, until
2008 when it was transferred to Defence’s Fairness and Resolution Branch.
The IPP consisted of cadet units established and maintained in remote Indigenous
communities in the Northern Territory and North Queensland. This was mainly
carried out by Army, who established cadet units in Daly River (Northern
Territory), Tiwi Islands (Northern Territory), Wadeye (Northern Territory) and
Bamaga (Queensland). Army also established a cadet unit at Marrara Christian
College in suburban Darwin, a school with a large number of Indigenous
Boarders. Additionally, two full-time APS Level 5 Indigenous Liaison Officer
positions were established to support the Service cadet programs, one position
in Darwin and one in Townsville.
Defence informed the Committee that community interest and support in
these cadet units has been inconsistent and Indigenous participation has
declined. The unit at Bamaga has been suspended and is likely to be closed in
2012 mainly due to the lack of local adults volunteering to be cadet staff.
Defence further noted that, across the five Remote and Indigenous Army
Cadet units, strength has fallen from 122 in 2006 to 72 in 2011. The lack of
dedicated Indigenous Liaison Officer support has contributed to this decline.
A 2008 Cadet Review undertaken by Lieutenant General F.J. Hickling AO,
CSC, concluded that smaller communities had limited capacity to support a
number of youth organisations. Consequently, Defence is focussing its efforts
on youth engagement with Indigenous personnel through the Indigenous Youth
Connections Program. This program aims to engage school aged Indigenous youth
early enough to positively influence their view of Defence as a career path.
Defence noted that this program has been successful to date and the
Defence Reconciliation Action Plan 2010-2014 reaffirms Defence’s commitment to
engage with young Indigenous personnel.
The Committee enquired as to whether the plan, under the Reconciliation
Action Plan and Indigenous Program, to incorporate ‘Welcome to Country’ in all
speeches had been implemented.
Defence stated that this had not yet been officially implemented, but
this issue would be reviewed as soon as possible.
The Committee asked for an update on the progress of increasing multicultural
diversity in the ADF.
Defence advised that there is a recruiting strategy in place to attempt
to increase diversity in the ADF so that it is representative of the community
it serves. Numbers are increasing, but not at the preferred rate. Consequently,
the Director General of Defence Force Recruiting is reinvigorating this
strategy, including engaging with community leaders to improve access to less
traditional recruiting areas.
Defence reiterated the difficulties of accurately gauging diversity in
the ADF where individuals self-report their backgrounds, as, when a
non-attributable census is run, diversity within Defence is higher than when
self-reporting is conducted.
People with a disability
The Defence Disability Action Plan 2008 is structured around the
recommendations of the Management Advisory Committee’s 2006 report Employment
of People with Disability in the APS. Deputy Secretary People Strategies
and Policy is the Defence Diversity champion and, as part of Defence’s ongoing
commitment to whole-of-government initiatives, is participating in a Defence
wide Committee that will drive the employment of people with a disability more
broadly across the APS.
The implementation of the action plan has focused on removing barriers
to employment and supporting existing employees with a disability. To support
retention of people with a disability in the workplace, Defence maintains an
online network to review and improve the reasonable adjustment policy. The
process for the delivery of assistive technology has been revised and delivery
times improved. Additionally, training and resources have been provided to
supervisors of employees with disability.
Defence confirmed that the Department compares favourably in terms of
the employment of People with a Disability across the APS. In a recent survey,
14.4 per cent of the Defence Organisation APS workforce identified themselves
as having a disability. Therefore, Defence is very close to the APS wide number
of 14.8 per cent of personnel having a disability.
The Committee queried whether these statistics include ADF personnel who
have been injured.
Defence advised that ADF personnel are managed under a separate program
– the Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill Program:
The ADF in particular has done
significant work in the last three years to revisit its policies to provide
much better focus on rehabilitation for members who acquire injuries or illness
or a disability and seek to retrain them and keep them in the ADF as opposed to
what we would have done five years ago, which was give them a year’s notice to
try to rehabilitate to a particular standard and, if they did not reach that
standard, to separate them from the ADF. Now we would have a period of up to
five years and progressive reviews and focused rehabilitation throughout that
period. If, at the two year mark, it looked like the individual would not be
able to rehabilitate to a standard where they could be retained in the
Australian Defence Force, we would focus, with the Department of Veterans’
Affairs, on vocational training so that they could be positioned for success
outside the ADF.
The Committee asked about the Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill (SWIIP)
Defence detailed that the program incorporated advice from consultants
who conducted a review of the process for managing ADF personnel who are
injured or become ill. While the consultants found there was already a
successful return to work program, they did note there were individuals who
were ‘falling through the gaps’, particularly in terms of engagement with the
Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Consequently, Defence has developed a closer
relationship with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and is working to engage
earlier in the process to ensure all individuals who are injured are managed
Defence further advised that it has been very successful at retaining as
many people as possible in uniform. Part of this success has been due to a
change in philosophy where more discretion is able to be applied to the issue
of deployability. More discretion is now able to be applied to individuals, and
consideration is able to be given to their rank and skill sets when reviewing
their deployabilty and employability within Defence.
The Committee asked for information on the number of ADF personnel
injured who are able to be retained in Service, for both injuries on operations
and injuries on non-operational Service.
Defence provided a series of tables for Financial Years 2008-2009,
2009-2010, and 2010-2011 outlining data sourced from the Australian Defence
Force Rehabilitation Program (ADFRP) database. Defence advised that this data
relates to those ADF members who were referred to the ADFRP for an occupational
rehabilitation assessment and had their case closed in the past three financial
years. Defence noted this data does not include all ADF personnel who were
injured on Service and retained in Service during each time period.
Table 3.1 ADF Personnel referred to ADFRP in Financial
Outcome for Injured Individual?
Retained in Service
Discharged at Own Request
of Defence, Submission 24, 30 May 12.
Defence noted that a breakdown of injuries related to operational Service
was not available for Financial Year 2008-2009.
Table 3.2 ADF Personnel referred to ADFRP in Financial
Outcome for Injured Individual?
Retained in Service
Discharged at Own Request
of Defence, Submission 24, 30 May 12.
Defence stated that, of the 2681 injury cases identified as being Service
related in Financial Year 2009-2010, 310 were reported as being associated with
Table 3.3 ADF Personnel referred to ADFRP in Financial
Outcome for Injured Individual?
Retained in Service
Discharged at Own Request
of Defence, Submission 24, 30 May 12.
Defence stated that, of the 2872 injury cases identified as being Service
related in Financial Year 2010-2011, 335 were reported as being associated with
The Chief of Defence Force Reference Group on Women facilitated the
development of an action plan aimed at increasing the number of women enlisting
in the ADF while focusing on retention and the creation of a workplace culture
that offers flexibility and innovation.
Endorsed by the Chiefs of Service Committee in 2009, The Chief of the
Defence Force Action Plan for the Recruitment and Retention of Women targets
six priority action areas to improve the participation of women in the ADF.
The Action Plan builds on achievements and initiatives already in place
and introduces new measures to increase the options and appeal of an ADF
career. Through career flexibility and improved support, this program of
cultural change makes careers in the ADF more attractive to women.
The Action Plan allocates the highest priority to increasing the number
of women enlisting into the ADF. The remaining five action areas, Flexibility,
Career Management, Accountability, Mentoring and Communication are focused on
retention of women in the ADF and the creation of a workplace culture that
offers choice and innovation.
Defence advised that the female participation rates within the ADF had
remained around 13.6 to 13.8 per cent for some time.
In September 2011, the Government announced that the remaining seven per
cent of trades which remained closed to women in the ADF would now be opened to
women. However, it is not anticipated that this will directly cause a
significant increase in women joining the ADF as the experience of many allies
has been that there is only a 3 to 4 per cent female participation rate in
those combat trades.
The Committee questioned when the physical employment standards study
into the biometrics, fitness levels and standards for all ADF personnel would
be provided to the military and the Government.
Defence responded that there had been a change in focus from the
original planned study to enable the review into the combat related trades to
be completed. Now that this has been completed, other trades will be reviewed
over the course of the next three years. Defence noted that there are still
some outstanding matters in the review of the combat trades, related to testing,
which will be trialled over the next 12 months.
The Committee asked what impact this work will have on Projects SUAKIN
Defence advised that this work will be beneficial to both these
projects, which are about:
. . . trying to be a more
efficient and more effective workforce. The message that I have spoken
continually about in Army is that a diverse and culturally rich workforce is,
in fact, a capability enhancer. I have to say that my interaction with the
soldiers of the Army over the last two months has seen very positive feedback
in that regard. I do not sense at all any resistance to the types of changes
that are actually caught up in the Pathway to Change. It has great
support at the grassroots level, and that is a terrific thing for all of us.
The Committee requested for an update on the Defence Women’s Action
Defence informed the Committee that the Action Plan had a number of
different objectives, including recruiting more women. In terms of this,
Defence has found that the gap year has been a very successful program for
attracting females. In fact, the gap year had a 50 per cent participation rate
of females. Anecdotal evidence is that this occurred because females only have
to commit for one 12 month period up front. Consequently, Defence is reviewing
initial engagement periods to see if these can be reduced to attract more women.
Another area of the Action Plan is to retain women once they join.
. . . the retention rate for women
in our organisation is actually now as good or better than that for men – which
it was not before the action plan started.
Defence advised that the current Action Plan for Women was
groundbreaking and has driven Defence a long way. However, the current program
has run its course, a point which has been confirmed by recent reviews by Ms
Broderick and Ms McGregor as part of the suite of Defence cultural reviews.
Consequently, the Action Plan will be reframed. The current women’s reference
group will be closed and a new Secretary/CDF gender equality board will be
established. This board will have significant external representation to take
the organisation to the next step.
Defence further observed that this issue is not just gender specific:
. . . when we talk to our women we
do get pushback to say, ‘If it’s good enough for me it’s good enough for all of
us.’ Certainly within the ADF there are three generations of women serving, and
each of those generations have different needs and different views of career
progression. So we are sensitive to the need for change . . we are certainly
engaged with the people who will help us drive this forward.
The Committee sought an update on the element of the Women’s Action Plan
relating to part-time work, particularly for women who had just had children.
Defence confirmed it is continuing to work on utilising its workforce in
a better way, including considering the full-time, part-time, and casual
elements of the workforce and the ability to move between these elements. As
part of this work, Defence has conducted a broad review of how it employs APS
and ADF personnel across several streams through Plan SUAKIN. This plan will be
considered at senior levels in Defence and is a different way of looking at how
people are employed in the organisation. This relates to both genders in the
The Committee queried the attrition rate for women in the ADF after they
have their first child.
Defence commented that the majority of women are returning to work after
the birth of their first child, and Defence attributes this to the Women’s
Action Plan and associated policy adjustments.
In Financial Year 2009-2010, 75 per cent of ADF women who took maternity
leave returned to service. In terms of the individual Services, this was further
broken down as 70 per cent of Navy women, 78 per cent of Army women, and 78 per
cent of Air Force women returning to service after Maternity Leave. Defence noted
that Financial Year 2009-2010 data was used for these figures to ensure women
who took extended periods of leave associated with their maternity leave were
Recruitment and Retention
In the context of high operational tempo and skills shortages, and
against a backdrop of an uncertain economic outlook, the attraction,
recruitment and retention of staff continued to be a high priority for Defence
in 2010-2011. For the ADF, this has been achieved through recruitment and the
effect of lower than expected separation rates compared to long term averages.
Similarly, Defence’s APS workforce targets have largely been achieved. However,
an increasing external labour market demand will likely lead to a rise in
military separation rates, presenting recruiting and retention challenges in
the near future.
Despite a healthy overall situation for personnel numbers in the ADF,
Defence still faces challenges in retaining skilled and experienced personnel
in the senior Non-Commissioned Officer/middle officer ranks. The ADF Reserve
has demonstrated its capacity over the year to absorb some of the impact of
specialist vacancies in the ADF workforce and will remain central to meeting
these requirements. The SRP Reserves Reform Stream will continue investigating
ways to enhance the use of Reserves.
The Average Funded Strength achievement is above the budgeted figure due
to historically low levels of separation resulting from the combination of the
success of Retention and Recruitment initiatives and the impacts of the Global
Financial Crisis (GFC).
The Committee queried current retention in the ADF and whether ADF
personnel are being lost to mining and resources sectors. The Committee further
questioned whether any of those personnel lost to mining and resources areas had
then returned to Defence.
Defence advised that the ADF went into 2010-2011 with the highest
retention rates it had experienced. In May 2010, the separation rate for the
ADF was 7.1 per cent. This was very low, particularly as the 10 year rolling
average separation rate is around 10 per cent. At the end of Financial Year 2010-2011,
the separation rate had started to increase and was 7.9 per cent. As of March
2012, the separation rate has increased to about 9.3 per cent and is expected
to rise to 9.4 per cent by April 2012. 
Defence remarked that ADF separation rates are cyclical and tend to rise
over a seven year period. For example, in 2005-2006, Defence was discussing a
recruiting and retention crisis, now separation rates again appear to be
Defence stated that there is no one reason why individuals depart the
ADF. They are not all being drawn into the resources sector and those who are
leaving include a mix of technical and non-technical personnel. A number appear
to be going into the construction industry, which is growing as a result of the
resources boom. However, Defence advised that the current separation rates do
not appear to be affecting Defence’s ability to continue to operate.
Notwithstanding, Defence advised it continues to monitor and implement
strategies to address specific pressure areas such as medical specialists,
dentists, and engineers, where, just as in the wider community, there are
difficulties attracting and retaining individuals.
The Committee enquired how specific specialist skill sets required to support
Submarines, the Joint Strike Fighter, and other new procurement, such as the
Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH), were being managed, particularly once
the GFC ends.
Defence replied it is addressing and remediating critical categories,
and the numbers of critical categories have been steadily reducing. This
reduction has occurred as a result of remediation activities such as targeted
recruiting teams, engagement with industry bodies, investing in scholarships at
year 11 and 12 level, removing wastage in training by introducing mentoring
programs or redesigning that training, and, finally, restructuring the work
where possible. Additionally, a range of financial incentives have been used to
anchor current personnel.
Defence affirmed that it expects to move into a more difficult period
over the next three to four years. Consequently, a broad suite of initiatives
will be required to motivate ADF personnel to stay. Defence is reviewing how
the tangible and intangible elements of employment can be managed:
We are increasingly looking at how
we can differentiate the offer, to use that language. So we have a range of
tangible and intangible components of our value proposition to our membership –
everything from remuneration right through to the quality of the leadership
they will be subjected to. We think the way to target these particular skill
sets into the future, for which we know we are going to struggle, is to try to
differentiate that offer – to be able to ramp components of it up and down to
motivate individuals to stay with us or to attract people to those particular
Defence advised it is continuing to review its policies, and will attempt
to identify exactly what encourages particular segments of the workforce to
remain in the organisation.
The Committee asked whether Defence is reviewing strategic engagement
with industry to facilitate movement between industry and Defence in a
programmed, planned manner. The intent of such engagement would be to benefit
Defence, the industry, and the individual. The Committee noted that this may
increase understanding by Defence personnel in procurement areas of the
commercial drivers and pressures experienced by industry. The Committee
observed that Qantas exemplifies such an activity, where ex-ADF personnel have,
on a regular basis, been allowed to take a period of time to return to Defence.
Defence responded that this had previously been considered, but had not
been implemented in a systemic way. One of the many issues challenging implementation
is controlling poaching of personnel into that industry after their secondment
period. Defence advised they are continuing to review a range of options, and will
examine this issue further.
Defence Housing and Infrastructure
The Committee asked about the provision of Defence Housing in the
Defence informed the Committee that the majority of Defence housing is
procured through the Defence Housing Authority, a separate agency within the
overall Department of Defence.
Defence observed that many Defence Houses on Defence establishments in
the Northern Territory are quite old and it would not be economical to bring
them up to modern Defence housing standards. However, where such houses could
be made suitable for resale and relocation, this is being done. For example, some
of the Defence houses at Larrakeyah Barracks were relocated offsite, and some
have been offered for sale to the Northern Territory Government. The Defence
Housing Authority will then construct new housing which meets the new Defence
Housing Standards for 2017 onwards. 
The Committee queried the age of housing stock demolished by the Defence
Housing Authority in Eaton, where RAAF Base Darwin is located.
Defence stated that no housing stock had been demolished at RAAF Base
Darwin at this time. However, Defence Housing Australia will shortly commence
demolition of nine vacant properties located on RAAF Base Darwin. These houses
were built in the 1960s.
The Committee inquired whether the plans of the layout of Australian
military bases had been available to the general public via the internet.
Defence replied that this is not the case, however, Defence noted that
when capital development projects are above the Public Works Committee (PWC)
threshold, evidence is supplied to the PWC and much of that evidence is made
public. Defence noted that it carefully screens such information to ensure
security is maintained, however, this means there is some material in relation
to some bases available on public websites, particularly where there are major
capital projects occurring in those locations.
Financial Counselling Support for Deployed Personnel
The Committee inquired whether financial counselling is provided for ADF
personnel who are deploying to ensure that they appropriately spend the allowances
earned on deployment.
Defence advised that all personnel involved in deployment receive
mandatory financial counselling. This counselling is provided by personnel
accredited and operated through the ADF Financial Services Consumer Council.
The ADF Financial Services Consumer Council is chaired by an Air Force
Reserve Officer, who is an eminent accountant. It includes an independent
financial expert and representatives from the three services. The council draws
on material from ASIC and ACCC and provides objective advice. It has won
national awards for its programs. Through the ADF Financial Services Consumer
Council, all ADF personnel are provided with a range of programs over their
career with the specific objective of increasing the financial literacy of all
Defence noted the senior leadership of the ADF has observed increasing
financial literacy amongst junior ADF personnel over time. However, Defence
also observed that, while financial counselling may be mandatory, individuals
still make their own financial decisions.
The Committee questioned the transition support provided for ADF
personnel who only serve in the ADF for a short period of time.
Defence responded that there are a range of programs and activities that
ADF personnel can access to assist them to prepare for transition out of the
ADF. It was noted that access to such programs increases with the length of
service, however, individuals who leave at the end of their initial minimum
period of service have access to transition seminars aimed at assisting
individuals to think about their transition and position themselves for
Additionally, Army, which transitions more people due to its overall size,
has developed Army personnel coordination detachments. These detachments
provide direct guidance to Army personnel who are transitioning.
The Committee notes the following in respect of Defence personnel:
is continuing to work on a range of programs aimed at increasing the number of
indigenous personnel in the ADF and the wider Defence department.
is continuing to work on a range of strategies aimed at increasing
multicultural representation in the ADF.
is providing support to ADF personnel who are injured through the SWIIP Program.
will reframe the current CDF’s Women’s Action Plan and institute a Secretary/CDF
Gender Equality Board.
separation rates are increasing, but this is not having an impact on the
ability for the ADF to continue to operate effectively.
n Defence is continuing
to monitor and attempt to remediate critical employment categories within the