Chapter 3 - The current recruiting system
According to the Department of Defence, the ADF
has not met its recruiting targets since financial year 1997/98. In 1998-99, enlistments for the
Permanent Force only met 80 per cent of the recruiting target and in 1999-2000,
enlistments had dropped to 76 per cent. In that year, Navy enlistments only
met 57 per cent of Navy’s recruiting target.
In its submission to the Committee, the
Department referred to a 1997 report on ‘Community attitudes to towards Careers
in the Defence Force’ by the company New Focus. This report argued that
Defence faced an increasingly difficult recruiting task due to economic,
demographic, brand image and societal factors.
In response to this report and subsequent updates from New Focus, Defence
initiated several fresh recruiting strategies from financial year 1999-2000
onwards. These included a new strategic advertising campaign and the
establishment of a call centre to handle enlistment enquiries. The recruiting
achievement for financial year 2000-2001 was 33 per cent higher than the
previous year, which would seem to suggest that these new strategies have been
It should be noted, however, that Defence spent $32 million on recruiting
advertising in 1999-2000 and $41 million in 2000-2001. The level of
advertising would undoubtedly have contributed to the increase in improved
recruiting results. However, overall recruiting targets are still not being
met, especially in critical specialist trades.
This chapter examines the current ADF recruiting system and its strategies for
meeting recruiting targets.
There are three issues that impact on the
current status of the ADF recruiting system.
The recruiting requirement
As mentioned in Chapter 2, during the 1990s, the
ADF reduced personnel numbers from 70,000 to 49,500 as part of efficiency and
rationalisation reforms. This had the flow-on effect of reducing the actual
recruiting requirement. However, since 1999, the recruiting requirement has
expanded. The ADF’s operational commitment to East Timor required an increase
of 3,555 personnel and the Defence White Paper has set the ADF a target to
achieve a total strength of 53,555 by 2010.
The problem of meeting this expanded requirement has been compounded by the
fact that earlier recruiting targets were not achieved and separation rates
The current personnel strength of the ADF and
the three Services is shown in Table 3.1.
Table: 3.1: Current personnel strength of the ADF and the
three Services as at 10 May 2001
(10 May 2001)
Reserves on FT
Source: Department of Defence submission, p. 8.
The recruiting capacity
A second issue is recruiting capacity. The
Defence reforms of the 1990s reduced the number of staff in recruiting units
and created a tri-service recruiting organisation. Subsequently, the capacity
of the Defence Force Recruiting Organisation (DFRO) to identify accurately and
screen recruits has been reduced at a time when the requirement has expanded.
This issue has been addressed in Chapter 2.
There are two further issues relating to the
DFRO on which the Committee wishes to comment. The first is the level of the
Director of the DFRO. At present, the Director is a Colonel. The view was
expressed by Committee members at the hearing on 21 September 2001 that the
Director of DFRO, in view of the crucial role of that organisation should be a
one star officer rather than a Colonel (or equivalent). This is no reflection
whatsoever on the incumbent of the position.
The second matter is the location of the DFRO.
It is located in Tuggeranong, the most distant district centre in Canberra. It
is the only part of Defence Personnel Executive (DPE) that is not located in
the Russell Offices. It is beyond the Committee’s comprehension that such an
important directorate has been relegated to the periphery of Canberra. Apart
from anything else, there is a psychological advantage in co-locating the staff
of Headquarters DFRO with DPE and Defence Headquarters at the Russell Office
centre of power. The Committee therefore believes that Headquarters DFRO is
best situated at the Russell Office complex.
The Committee raised both matters with the Head
of Defence Personnel Executive, Rear Admiral Shalders, who said that he shared
the Committee’s concerns about both matters and that both were under consideration.
The Committee recommends that Headquarters DFRO be moved to
co-locate with Defence Personnel Executive and the Headquarters of the
Department of Defence at the Russell Office complex.
The third issue is recruiting flexibility.
Defence has been testing the use of a commercial provider (Manpower Defence
Recruiting [MDR]) for elements of the recruiting function in Victoria, Tasmania
and southern New South Wales. Changes to the recruiting process and ADF enlistment
policies throughout Australia have been frozen pending the outcomes of this
trial, which is now due for completion by September 2002.
Marketing and advertising
The current DFRO marketing and advertising
strategy is to target the audience group of 17-24 year olds. In developing this strategy,
DFRO moved from a ‘lifestyle’ campaign in 1999-2000 to three single Service
campaigns in 2000-2001.
Defence funding for advertising was increased to $41 million to support these
Each campaign, where possible, was supported by career lecture team tours:
We try to get the career lecture team tours throughout each
state, basically, twice a year. However, given the size of the recruiting
organisation, we are unable to do that in every town and every school with our
current capacity. We aim to go to every school twice a year.
According to Defence, the marketing and
advertising campaign for 2000-2001 contributed to better than normal
‘across-the-board’ enlistment results.
Unfortunately, the campaign was not directed at critical trades or wider ethnic
groups where the main recruiting deficiencies exist.
Interestingly, in the range of evidence received
by the Committee, marketing and advertising was the one aspect of the
recruiting process that received the most adverse comment. These comments
focussed on two broadly perceived deficiencies. Each of these deficiencies is
linked to the decision to trial the use of a commercial provider for elements
of the recruiting function and this will be discussed later in this chapter.
One perceived deficiency was that the ADF was
not doing enough to market itself to cadets, schools, wider ethnic groups and
the general community. As one witness explained:
...That leads to the fact that in recruiting we hang our hat on
the shiny presentation of the electronic media and print media stuff that we
send out. Community engagement does not feature there. We are not getting to
the parents and telling them, ‘Gee, this is a good opportunity for your child
to get a head start in life. We are not taking it from the other mentors that
they have in society such as their scout group leader or their teachers,
saying, ‘Service in the Defence Force is service to your country and is
something you should be looking at.’
Another perceived deficiency was that recruiting
advertising did not depict a realistic picture of the challenges and benefits
of a career in the ADF. One submission argued:
...too much emphasis has been placed on what might be termed
“lifestyle” recruiting, eg the fighter pilot in his cockpit proclaiming that he
is just a regular guy who goes home to his girlfriend at night. Does the ADF
really want people who are looking for a 9 to 5 job which just happens to
require the wearing of a uniform? Should not advertising stress the challenges
of service life?
Interestingly, MDR tracks all reasons for a
recruitment enquiry and/or an initial visit to an MDR office. Analysis of the
19,811 enquiries generated, as a percentage, between 4 September 2000 and 31
August 2001 is as follows:
- 36% from television;
- 32% from print/local press;
- 9% from referrals;
- 8% from the Internet;
- 6% from family;
- 4% from field recruitment activities;
- 4% from friends; and
- 1% from radio.
The Committee notes that DFRO intends to have a
closer liaison with the Defence Public Affairs and Corporate Communication
Division to assist marketing and advertising. It also notes that the Department
of Defence Action Plan for People includes an initiative to improve public
relations and communications.
However, the Committee has not yet received evidence of a clearly articulated
strategic marketing and advertising plan that targets general, critical trade
and ethnic groups for the ADF.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Defence
develop a long-term strategic ADF marketing and advertising plan that supports
- appealing to the real reasons for enlistment;
- targeting general, critical trade and wider ethnic groups; and
- promoting ADF links with the community.
The recruiting process
The Committee gained a better understanding of
the recruiting process by visiting the DFRO, the Defence Service Centre (DSC),
a call centre based in Cooma, ADF Recruiting Units (ADFRU) in Sydney and
Melbourne, and Career Reference Centres (CRC) in Darwin and Townsville. The
Committee also visited the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka and the Navy
recruit training centre at HMAS Cerberus.
Current recruiting process
The Director of Defence Force Recruiting,
Colonel Mark Bornholt, provided the Committee with an outline of the current
ADF recruiting process during the public hearing on 25 June 2001 at which
Defence first gave evidence to the Committee.
This process is outlined in Figure 1 below. Under this process an applicant is
enlisted in four phases.
Figure 1: A flow diagram of the current recruitment process
In the first phase, the DSC, CRC or ADFRU
responds to an initial enquiry by conducting an initial applicant screening and
providing career information. Since 27 November 2000 most initial enquiries
have been handled by the DSC. This organisation operates nationally beyond
normal business hours and on Saturdays. The Defence National Recruitment
telephone number, 131901, recorded a total of 476,843 calls in the period 1
January to 19 August 2001.
While a percentage of these calls are not defence related or are unsuccessful,
the DFRO reported approximately 156,964 new eligible recruiting enquiries in
An initial enquiry is followed by an appointment
at the nearest CRC or ADFRU to receive specific information, counselling and
complete an application for enlistment. This phase might be completed as part
of a tour of regional centres when uniformed recruiting staff are available.
The DFRO reported 31,259 applications in 2000-2001.
In the third phase, applicants attend their
nearest CRC or ADFRU to undergo psychometric and medical testing, interviews,
and selection boards (according to the category of their application). This is
the most resource intensive phase of the recruiting process and requires
careful co-ordination. The Committee heard that testing applicants in regional
areas created special challenges for recruiting staff. In these cases, either the
applicant was brought to the nearest CRC or testing staff from the CRC
conducted a tour of regional centres. The DFRO reported 5,742 enlistments in
1999-2000 and 7,697 in 2000-2001.
The final phase involves the procedural
enlistment or appointment of a successful applicant. A summary of statistics
for enquiries, applications and enlistments for the ADF in the last three
financial years is at Table 3.2 below.
Table 3.2: Summary of statistics for enquiries,
applications and enlistments
Issues associated with the
The Committee heard considerable criticism of
the current recruiting process during public hearings and noted similar
criticisms in written submissions. These criticisms were assessed during the
Committee’s tour and discussions with various organisations involved in ADF
recruiting. The Committee noted several issues in regards to recruiting
capacity and flexibility. These issues are addressed below.
Initial screening and provision of information
Initial screening involves confirming that the
applicant has the correct age, citizenship and education for enlistment into
the ADF. Appropriate recruiting information is then dispatched to eligible
applicants. Staff at the DSC, various CRCs and DFRO indicated that this phase
of the process was made difficult by poorly articulated single Service
This issue was substantiated by several written submissions that claimed a
‘lack of accurate and adequate recruiting information at Defence Recruiting
In order to address this issue, DFRO has requested the DPE to provide ‘clear,
unambiguous statements of the requirements for age, education, citizenship,
psychology, medical and character (drug usage/conviction history) standards’.
The psychometric testing, medical testing and
enlistment interviews take up a large portion of the recruiting process. A
considerable number of written submissions complained about time delays
involved in this phase of the recruiting process. Several submissions
criticised delays in service transfer and re-enlistment procedures. Other submissions questioned
the medical test disability guidelines regarding asthma, body-mass-index,
broken bones in the previous two years and eyesight. The Committee notes that DFRO
are making efforts to streamline the general testing process. According to
Colonel Mark Bornholt:
All we are doing is taking better advantage of technology and
moving the psychometric testing up front so that we are able to examine what
trades an individual is suitable for on the day that he comes in, instead of
him coming in and going through the process and then at some stage we say to
him, ‘You are not psychologically suitable to do X; go and do Y’, which is what
we are doing the moment.
In addition, where testing procedures and
policies are outside of their control, DFRO has sought guidance from DPE. To
prevent delays in service transfers, DFRO has recommended that single Service
agencies manage and resource these activities.
To prevent delays in re-enlistments, DFRO has recommended single Service
agencies adhere to a maximum processing time of one week for ex-service record
In an effort to streamline medical testing, DFRO has requested Defence Health
Service Branch to review medical standards that exclude recruitment to the ADF.
Brigadier Wayne Ramsey informed the Committee that the Branch was undertaking a
number of studies, including one to address the issue of asthma.
The Committee received some submissions, which
have not been released because individuals have been named, referring to great
difficulties trying to transfer from one Service to another or transferring
from the Reserves to the Permanent Force. Their experiences would have deterred
most people. The ADF cannot afford to drive serving members to discharge while
trying to transfer to a different Service, by the apparent incompetence of some
Considering that the ADF continues to experience
a shortfall in critical trades, the Committee was interested in what steps the
Department of Defence had taken to pursue lateral recruiting. This concept was
first recommended in the Cross Report of 1988 and refers to the ‘enlistment of
individuals who already possess desired qualifications or skills’. The Committee similarly
assessed that this form of recruiting could aid retention.
Apart for the normal lateral recruitment of
medical officers, chaplains, lawyers and public relations officers, the
Committee could find no other evidence of a concerted scheme of lateral
recruiting. Some hearings and submissions provided evidence in support of
Indeed, Army informed the Committee of a ‘reserve apprentice scheme pilot
program’ to engage in partnerships with apprentice employers and training
This initiative is commended. Given the shortage of critical trades and the
level of support in the ADF for lateral recruitment, the Committee concluded
that such a scheme was worthy of further investigation by the Department of
Information supplied by recruiting organisations
The Committee received considerable evidence of
misleading information by recruiting organisations about life in the ADF,
transfers between musterings and conditions of service. In a brief tabled by
Colonel Bornholt at the hearing on 21 September 2001, it is stated:
The implication that applicants are discharging before
completion of recruit training because of inconsistent information is not
supported in fact. Discharge rates are relatively low at approximately 7%
during recruit training and the proportion of these attributed to inconsistent
information is considered to be extremely low. However, there is a problem
with provision of information and consistency. This issue is addressed in the Defence
Submission which indicates that this caused by a lack of people following DRP
cutbacks which has in turn resulted in fewer counsellors and the inability of
the organisation to maintain information data bases. Defence will fund a new
IT platform to address the information issue in 2002 and the restructure of the
DFRO headquarters which will be effected in 2002 will provide sufficient
personnel to maintain data bases and information systems.
Applicants who receive wrong information at
recruiting units or centres may not discharge during initial training. They
may do their initial four or six years and then discharge. That is not in the
interests of the ADF. The ADF cannot recoup its investment in recruiting and
training young people if they discharge after their initial period of
enlistment. A witness at HMAS Stirling told the Committee:
When I was in, I did two years down at Cerberus and, when
they came to us at the CAT schools, the kids said, ‘We’re going to get this,
this, this and this. This is what the recruiting officer told us.’ I said, ‘No,
you’re not. This is what the Navy is going to give you, not what the recruiting
officer told you.’ So they did their four years and said, ‘We’re jack of this.
We came in under false pretences; we’re not going to get it,’ and so they bail
When asked whether he had any specific examples,
he replied that he was one himself:
I came back in this time because I actually wanted to join the
Army and go to Special Forces. I was assured by the recruiting office in
Adelaide that, if I came back into the Navy and made their recruiting level
look good again and then apply to transfer over, I would have no troubles. I
started all the paperwork, and I now have a large stack of paper. I got in and
the Navy said, ‘No. Bad luck, mate, you’re in.’ I said, ‘Here’s all the
paperwork from the recruiting office,’ and they said, ‘Well, you’re in the Navy
now. You signed a four-year contract. If you didn’t want to sign that, you
shouldn’t have. You are in now. Bad luck.’
Asked later whether the information he received
came from uniformed or civilian staff, he replied:
The kellick was the first person I went to. He was actually an
ex-stoker who changed over to a cook, and I knew him personally. He lied to me
first. The PO at the recruiting office lied to me. Then some RAAFy lied to me
and said, ‘This is what will happen.’ She guaranteed it to me. When I signed
the dotted line and took the oath again, she guaranteed it to me. Now I have
Another sailor at the same base said:
What happened to me was this: at the age of 19 and coming from Noosa,
not knowing much about the Navy at all - all I wanted to do was be a diver - I
was told at Recruiting, ‘We haven’t got any diver billets at the moment. Go in
as a QMG and, once you do your training and everything, you’ll change straight
over.’ That never happened at all. It took me five years to become a diver.
That is bullshit. Five years is a long time doing something I did not want to
The Committee received many other examples of
similar misinformation being given to applicants by recruiters. It is possible
that some applicants only hear what they want to hear. They do not listen to
information about the difficulties that all Service members face. However, the
consistency of evidence given to the Committee indicates that there is a
problem and that some recruits enter the ADF with the wrong impression about
some aspect of their service. Given the cost of training ADF members and the
current shortfall in personnel, any misinformation given to applicants, which
might lead to their discharge even after their initial period of enlistment is
not in the interests of the ADF. The Committee notes that the DFRO staff
numbers will be boosted next year and the organisation will receive new IT
equipment that will assist it significantly in many ways, including
dissemination of information. Nevertheless, DFRO should ensure, as far
practicable, that information given to applicants in recruiting units and CRCs
In general terms, the Committee is satisfied
that Defence has identified the shortfalls in the current recruiting process.
However, the implementation of procedures to streamline the recruiting process
has been very slow. The Department of Defence must give priority support to
DFRO to introduce changes in process and policy to enhance the recruiting
process. At the same time, to improve recruiting of critical trades, the
Department should investigate a scheme of lateral recruiting.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Defence,
as a matter of priority, support and implement changes to streamline the
current recruiting process as proposed by HQ DRFO:
- providing adequate manning for DFRO to plan and conduct
- developing unambiguous policies on pre-enlistment requirements
(particularly for age, education, citizenship, psychology, medical and
character [drug usage/conviction history]), and
- developing clear policies and procedures for enlistment,
re-enlistment, Service transfer and medical disability restrictions.
In 2000, the Department of Defence entered into
a contract to use a commercial provider for ADF recruiting. Such a trial has
not been conducted for Defence Forces in other Western countries. Accordingly,
the Committee toured the ADFRU Melbourne on 26 July 2001 and conducted a public
hearing with MDR on 21 September 2001.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of
Manpower, Mr Malcolm Jackman, the original contract was arranged to provide
recruiting services for the ADF on a national basis for six years at a cost of
$180 million dollars. The initial year would be $10 million, as it was only for
the southern region.
As part of this contract, Manpower was required to conduct a recruiting pilot
in the southern region (Victoria/Tasmania/southern New South Wales). The pilot
was originally intended to run from 1 July 2000 until 30 June 2001
Contract difficulties prevented the trial from commencing until 4 September
Mr Jackman told the Committee:
Our initial understanding was that there would be an evaluation
at about nine to 10 months out from the start of the pilot and that, after that
evaluation, a decision would be made about whether to go into a full national
roll-out. I will give you the background to that. That was set up with a
planned start date of July last year. That seemed to be a fairly practical and
realistic timetable. The roll-out was eventually delayed and did not occur
until the beginning of September. Then, when we looked at the timing, it showed
that, if we started doing national roll-out, we would actually have been doing
national roll-out in the middle of the prime recruiting season, which is
happening right now. We had already experienced some down time and negative
impacts on results by actually rolling the trial in September. So it was in
agreed to bring the evaluation forward, and that was conducted towards the back
end of the first quarter of this year.
Manpower was asked what benchmarks were included
in the contract against which an evaluation might be conducted. Mr Littlewood,
National Manager of MDR, said that there were Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
in the contract but no benchmarks. Mr Jackman added:
What has transpired is that the ability to benchmark our
performance under the original contract was not there. That is the cold, hard
reality of life, which is why we are going forward with the phase 1A pilot
where there will be a very formal evaluation criteria. The evaluation is
formalised at the beginning, it will be conducted, as I understand, by Deloittes—although
I am not sure that a contract has been signed—and all the criteria are being
established now as we go forward as to how the evaluation will be conducted.
Mr Jackman said that the ‘contract is not the
style of contract that we would have normally entered into with a commercial
organisation. It is a very laborious contract. It is obviously a guide for
sufferers of insomnia!’
He also said:
but when we got to the cold, hard reality of life as to where we
were going with this nine or 12 months out or where we were going with this in
July, the reality is that the weaknesses of that contract were well and truly
exposed and there was no formal, as you say, line in the sand about which you could
say, ‘If we cross that line in the sand, we are successful.’ That had
consequences for all of us. It transpired that both ourselves and Defence
agreed that we were not in a position to make a definitive decision to roll
forward to national roll-out, because the contract basically said, ‘Upon
completion of a successful pilot, we will go forward with a national roll-out.’
Nobody at that point could then define actually what was a successful pilot and
that is why we have gone on to phase 1A.
The revised contract for the period 4 August
2001 until September 2002 would be subject to ‘continuous evaluation by
mutually agreed, established documented criteria’. Mr Jackman said:
We have agreed that in September of next year Defence has the
absolute discretion to go forward. At that stage it will be a two-year contract
from that point. The contract will not be the original six-year term. If we do
roll out, we will roll out at the beginning of the calendar year 2003. If
Defence agrees not to roll out, then we are still obligated - and obviously
will meet that contractual obligation - to provide the recruiting services in
the southern region until the end of March 2003.
The Committee was concerned at the loose
contractual details regarding this trial. Although KPIs were included, there
were no benchmarks. In other words, the contract lacked a proper evaluation
mechanism. As the first 12 months of the contract was a pilot project in the
southern region to assess whether it was worthwhile proceeding with the contract,
it is astounding that stringent evaluation measures were not included in the
contract. It was remiss of Defence not to include a full evaluation regime in
the contract so that both sides had confidence that Manpower’s performance was
adequately assessed and a decision to continue with the contract or terminate
it was soundly based.
Fee for enlistments
The contractor receives a fee for every
enlistment. There are four levels of fee to reflect the different cost
structures for processing people for different enlistment categories - general
entry, technical trade, direct entry officer, or aircrew officer. Recruitment fees for the
period September 2000 to August 2001 were: $4,300 for general entry, $5,150 for
technical trade, S6,000 for officer and $7,650 for aircrew officer. Without the four different fee
levels, there would be little incentive to enlist people for officer training,
as recruiting processes are more stringent and lengthy, and therefore
In addition to contractual difficulties, the
trial to outsource ADF recruiting includes a couple of impediments for the
contractor. First, the commercial contractor cannot structure the 23-24
per cent of the Defence recruiting advertising budget spent in its region. This arrangement restricts the
flexibility of the contractor to target potential applicants.
Service uniformed staff
The number of permanent uniformed staff
allocated to the contractor has been increased from 33 to 47 since the trial
began. Defence pays the salaries of these uniformed staff but any
administrative or operational costs while posted to Manpower are the
responsibility of Manpower. The evidence is overwhelming that uniformed staff
must deal with potential recruits. It is partly psychological but it is also important
in having Service members who can talk to potential applicants about life in
the Services. Whether recruiting is done by the ADF or by a civilian
contractor, there will always be the need for uniformed Service people to
provide face-to-face contact with the public.
Service members will also have to do the visits
to schools and other public places and events as it is the uniform that
attracts most potential applicants.
MDR provided the
Committee with evidence of their recruiting strategies, which included a
regional focus, remote testing, improved staff training, and information tours.
Discussions with MDR staff indicated that uniformed personnel were properly
used to conduct or provide advice for applicant interviews. According to Mr Malcolm
Jackman, the main advantage a commercial contractor brings to the recruiting
process is ‘intellectual capital’.
MDR, in conjunction with the DFRO, have also introduced sophisticated candidate
management data base system to facilitate the recruiting process.
It would not be appropriate for the Committee to
comment at this stage on the future of outsourcing of Defence recruiting. The
pilot stage is continuing and a stringent continuing assessment regime is being
finalised and implemented. An independent assessor will conduct the evaluation
and then the Department of Defence and the Minister of Defence will have to
decide whether there is a real advantage in proceeding with the Manpower
contract, not only in financial terms but in all other ways.
contractual arrangements with Manpower for the trial leave much to be desired
and deserve further scrutiny by ANAO.
Recruiting input versus
In many respects, the recruiting process is not
complete until a person arrives at their first duty post. The Committee heard
evidence that a large number of recruits were waiting to commence trade
training. This delay is attributed to the fact that ADF trade training
establishments are undermanned and have not been prepared for an increase in
the recruiting effort. This was explained by one witness in the following way:
Training areas in my school are 80 per cent manned. This means
that there is an inherent delay in being able to respond to and deliver on
targets. We have kids out there who for four of five months are waiting to
start courses. The singles fare better than the marrieds. The marrieds come in
and their partners may have had to forgo their job. They are on a training wage
only and have to go into a holding pattern for an extra five or six months.
Financially that has a significant impact on them.
This issue has been acknowledged by the ADF.
According to DFRO, ADF training organisations are attempting to adjust their
training regimes and timetables to better interface with the recruiting need. Director-General, Personnel
and Training for Navy provided evidence that:
Some 15 months ago we had a backlog of MTs - marine technicians
- on the beach, as we say, working in our fleet intermediate maintenance
activity centres. Through some close management with Fleet and other areas of
the Navy, we have managed to clear that particular backlog and we do not have
any left sitting on the beach in those particular categories.
Brigadier Paul Retter, Chief of Staff, Training
Command, Army told the Committee:
on the issue of our capacity problems, it is fair to say that,
in line with the DRP process and Army’s requirement to restructure to a 23,000 ARA
and a 27,000 reserve sized Army, the Training Command was limited to
approximately 3,000 ARA staff. Certainly, that did limit and does limit our
capacity. We are in the process of increasing the size of the command to meet
an expected increase in the size of Army and, as a result, an increased demand
for recruits to be trained, but that is going to take some time to put in place
and it is fair to say that we are in catch-up mode. Why are we in catch-up
mode? As I am sure you are aware, a significant number of issues have occurred
since 1999, such as the increase—at government direction—of 3,000 ARA within
Army, the protracted operations in Timor—and, as a result, potentially higher
separation rates—and the introduction of significant new equipment in the last
few years. All of this has increased the amount of training that we are
required to deliver.
I do not deny the fact that Training Command is at present
unable, in 18 of the 165 trades, to meet the capacity that is demanded of us;
however, the induction process we are putting in place—this management
process—will alleviate many of the concerns that you have expressed.
The Committee asked Brigadier Retter about the
instructor manning situation at Kapooka, where the Committee had received
evidence that staff there were very overworked trying to deal with the
increased numbers of recruits arriving for their common induction training.
Brigadier Retter replied:
In the first instance, we
have addressed the manning shortfalls that existed through an 10 additional
corporals. It is also our intention in the next month or so to address the
longer term issue of looking at the structure of that organisation, with a view
to increasing the number of staff there by in the order of 20 to 30 personnel.
That is a formal review process which occurs with Army headquarters staff. It
is acknowledged that the personnel at Kapooka are working too hard. As a result, that is an issue for both retention
in the Army and the capacity of the organisation.
But it is not just Kapooka. There are other training
organisations that pick up the trained recruits and train them in their
particular initial trade, of which we have 165. Of those, there are about 18 in
which we find at present we do not have the capacity to meet demand. In those
areas we are again seeking supplementation from land command in the first
instance and in the longer term we are looking at structural changes and
increases in the number of instructors so that we can increase the capacity of
the command to deal with the numbers we are facing.
Brigadier Retter said that other initiatives are
also being undertaken, such as outsourced commercial training for medical
assistance training and basic driver training.
The Committee is pleased that something is being
done to avoid having recruits placed in ‘holding platoons’ for many months
waiting for trade training, especially as they are on a training wage, which
may cause financial problems for some of them or disadvantage spouses or
partners. It is imperative that the requirement to hold recruits for some time
before their trade training should be removed as soon as possible.
The Committee collected detailed evidence
regarding the current process for recruiting ADF personnel. From this evidence
it is clear that, in the last two years, the ADF has encountered a recruiting
conundrum. The challenge has been to match an increasing recruiting requirement
with diminished capacity and flexibility. The Department of Defence has made
limited attempts to solve recruiting problems. The Committee finds that a more
strategic approach is required in terms of marketing and advertising the ADF
and streamlining the recruiting process. However, any effort to enhance
recruiting achievement must be matched with fresh efforts to proportionally
increase training capacity.
The Committee recommends that the Department of Defence
ensures that the training capacity of the three Services be bolstered to match
the recruiting effort.
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