Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 8 2009 Contents 11
CHIeF oF tHe DeFenCe ForCe’s CoLuMn
ince I have been chief of the
Defence Force, I have placed
a great deal of importance on
the need for the ADF to be able
to compete effectively in a very
competitive labour market. This
is because I think the number one
strategic challenge – the big, long-
term issue – that is critical to the ADF
is recruitment and retention. Without
the right people it doesn’t matter how
great our platforms are, we will not
have the force we need to protect
Australia and our national interests.
Recently, I have been very pleased with
the way in which we have managed to improve
the overall personnel situation of the ADF. A
number of measures have been brought together
as an integrated strategy aimed at improving
recruitment and retention, which, during the past
year, has had some assistance from the wider
The result of our improved retention and
recruiting achievement is that the ADF workforce
is growing the way we need to meet our White
Paper workforce growth targets. Overall, the ADF
is less than one per cent over our planned people
allocation level for this fiscal year. This includes
minor over-achievement in Army balanced by under-
achievement in Navy. Also, there has been steady
improvement within most of the critical categories.
ADF separation rates have continued to
decrease during the last 12-months. This reduction,
and the associated retention of our trained
people, has contributed to the growth we need to
achieve our workforce goals.
Specifically, as at 1 October 2009, the ADF
12-month rolling separation rate of 8.1 per cent is
more than two per cent lower than 12 months ago.
Impressively, this is the lowest separation rate
in the last decade for the ADF. If I break it down
by Service, Navy has experienced a reduction in
separation rate of 2.6 per cent to 9.1 per cent,
Army a reduction of 2.4 per cent to 8.8 per cent
and Air Force has seen a reduction of 1.8 per cent
to 5.6 per cent.
Recruiting is also improving, with 91 per cent
of our targets being met. This time last year, we
were only achieving 68 per cent. The increase in
Navy achievement is especially noteworthy. We
are currently achieving 90 per cent of full-time
Navy targets – this time last year, we were only
achieving 56 per cent.
I firmly believe that these excellent outcomes
are directly related to the many initiatives we have
implemented right across our workforce system.
Improvements in conditions of service including the
Graded Officer and Other Ranks Pay Scales (GOPS/
GORPS), the Defence Home Owner Assistance
Scheme (DHOAS), and other retention initiatives
such as improving the conditions of service for
submariners –have been very effective. There
can be no doubt the financial and non-financial
package that we are now offering is encouraging
people to join the ADF and stay.
Our other efforts in the recruiting areas
have paid dividends and should place us well
for the future growth we need. In particular,
the Multicultural Recruitment and Retention
Strategy, the Indigenous Employment Strategy and
Recruitment and Retention of Women Strategy
seek to widen our recruiting base.
Also, our new recruiting model – which includes
specialist recruiting teams, a renewed candidate
focus, and a revitalised marketing and branding
initiative – is in place and achieving good results.
Additionally, while not planned as a recruiting
initiative, the ADF Gap Year program has been
fully subscribed and the first full year saw more
than 32 per cent of participants change over to
the permanent ADF. I think this is a wonderful
vote of confidence in the way the ADF is treating
these young members and an endorsement of the
exciting and rewarding career we offer.
Of course, while these many improvements to
the ADF workforce are pleasing, I recognise that
we will not attract and keep our people through
offering just a wage or just a job. We must all
strive to provide our people the best employment
offer we can.
While this offer must include a sensible and
attractive remuneration package, it is important
to emphasise the extensive benefits of the non-
financial package offered by the ADF, including
meaningful work and excellent opportunities for
skilling and personal development.
Now that we are getting sufficient numbers
of people in the ADF we need to ensure they
are gaining in experience and skills. I urge all
members of the ADF to instil a culture of training
and preparation for higher duties. Communicate
with your subordinates about their progression and
make sure you also talk to your supervisor about
your own progression.
Going forward, global economic conditions
appear to be improving and I expect that more ADF
personnel will be offered work outside Defence. The
commercial sector knows that Defence is a source of
good people with the right values, skills and attitude.
I look to every Commander in Defence to contribute to
the retention of your people by providing a great work
environment which is safe, supportive, challenging
and one that offers opportunity.
For those of our people who choose to leave,
we should wish them well – but I ask you to make it
clear to them that returning to the ADF in the future
is an option that we would like them to consider and
one that will remain available to them.
and retention within
secretary establishes links with
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