New Benefits Offered as Defense Sounds Alarm on Recruitment and Retention of Military Personnel

Defense bosses are promising new employment benefits as the Australian military works to overcome “significant challenges” to meet ambitious recruitment and retention targets.

In a recent letter to ADF personnel and departmental personnel, the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of the Defense Force acknowledge the need to do more to “stay competitive”, especially given the “rate of change in our strategic and national environments”.

Earlier this year, the former Morrison government unveiled a $38 billion plan to boost the ADF by 18,500 uniformed men by 2040 to meet growing regional threats.

However, concern is growing within Defense about the ability to achieve the target.

“Defence faces significant challenges in recruiting, retaining and developing its workforce,” General Angus Campbell and Defense Secretary Greg Moriarty wrote to their colleagues earlier this month.

“To attract and retain the workforce necessary to achieve our mission, we must remain competitive.

Defense Department Secretary Greg Moriarty and Chief of Defense Force Gen. Angus Campbell.(Provided: Ministry of Defense)

“The pace of change in our strategic and national environments, as well as your feedback in the workplace, clearly shows that we need to do more.

“We understand the need to act immediately to ease the pressure on our workforce, and as such, six initiatives will be implemented as soon as possible.”

The six initial initiatives described by Defense bosses are:

  • expand Defense-Assisted Studies curriculum and study bank programs
  • double and extend the payment of family health benefits ADF
  • increase the allocation of leave trips to remote locations by one trip per year
  • revise the ADF Senior Duty Allowance Policy to adequately compensate members
  • facilitate access to budgeted travel allowances
  • develop a clear employee value proposition framework

In a statement to the ABC, the Department of Defense said it was “implementing the six initiatives as soon as possible.”

“The six immediate action initiatives are just the beginning of efforts to improve recruitment and retention,” a defense spokesperson said.

“Defense is considering many ways to modernize and reflect contemporary practices within its diverse workforce, including through pay and conditions, education and working methods.”

An incoming government brief prepared by the Defense Labor Department after its May election victory warned that the ADF was “not a competitive employer”.

“When we compete for a limited pool of experienced staff, we often lose out,” notes the Freedom of Information document released last month.

“These labor shortages are felt most directly in key segments of the company’s workforce, such as engineering, intelligence, communications and cyber.”