8 May, 2022

ALP promises review of ADF recruitment and retention

An Albanese Labor Government will conduct a comprehensive review of Australian Defence Force (ADF) recruitment and retention mechanisms to ensure our armed forces have the personnel they need to keep Australia safe and defend our national interests, says Shayne Neumann, Federal MP for Blair.

The ALP will carry out a review of ADF recruitment and retention if it wins government.
The ALP will carry out a review of ADF recruitment and retention if it wins government.

Federal Labor supported the Morrison Government’s announcement to increase the size of ADF to over 101,000 by 2040, but as usual with this government, it was another case of too little, too late.

This issue could have been acted upon last year when the Government actually took a decision to boost ADF numbers, but instead they held onto it until they could roll it out in an election campaign. 

The Morrison Government’s track record on defence recruitment doesn’t indicate that they will actually deliver on this strategy. 

The ADF has only grown by about 2,000 people since the 2016 Defence White Paper, or fewer than 400 per year on average, so it is doubtful that they will all of a sudden start recruiting over 1,300 new people a year for the next two decades.

The Liberal-National Government only met 90 per cent of permanent force recruitment targets in 2020-21 and has failed to meet White Paper targets every year since 2015-16.

In addition, there are serious problems with retention, with an average separation rate of eight to 10 per cent in recent years, which means the ADF is haemorrhaging 5,000 to 6,000 people per year, many of whom are highly trained and skilled.

The review will include but not be limited to:

  • Current recruitment and retention initiatives, including pay and conditions, and housing and health assistance. 

  • The ADF Gap Year program.

  • Potential new recruitment and retention initiatives, such as trying to attract skilled former personnel back to the ADF to meet future workforce needs. 

  • The efficiency and effectiveness of external recruitment practices.

  • Recruitment and retention of key skills and trades to determine if the new ADF workforce strategy can adequately address these skills shortages. 

  • Analysis of current retention measures, including the ADF’s total workforce system, and possible alternatives. 

Federal Member for Blair and Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann said this commitment builds on Labor’s $519.2 million plan to strengthen the services defence personnel and veterans and their families count on.

“This package includes $60.1 million to expand the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme, so our troops can own their home sooner,” he said.

“The LNP talk a big game when it comes to Defence, but when it comes to recruitment and retention, they’re all announcement and no delivery.

“An Albanese Labor Government will review our recruitment and retention measures to see what is working and what is not, and ensure our armed forces have all the personnel they need to keep Australia safe and defend our national interests.

“At the end of the day, all the capability in the world is no good without the necessary people to operate it.

“We need to do more to recruit, train and retain more highly skilled service men and women or we simply will not be able to meet our future national security challenges.  

“Defence also needs to broaden its talent pool by sending a stronger message to women that there is room for them at all levels and across all roles in the ADF.

“Labor in government will do the work to make sure the ADF can meet its workforce targets, as well as address key skill shortages and gender imbalances in our defence forces,” Mr Neumann said.


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