17 May 2009

Australia's Defence White Paper: Looking out for the troops

Earlier this month Australia released it's Defence White Paper which can be found here. I've finally had an opportunity to peruse it. Chapter 14 of the White Paper entitled "People in Defence," starting at page 113, indicates an array of new strategies and programs concerning Australian Defence Force personnel. The report recognizes the need for more Naval personnel and the government will provide funding for 700 additional personnel. Also a new Submarine Sustainability program will be implemented over the next five years to improve support for deployed submariners. The Royal Australian Air Force will face modest growth with flexible employment practices. However, the report lacks specifics in this area.

An improvement in remuneration for all non-commissioned officers through a new pay structure system will occur. Rates of pay for trainees undertaking longer training periods will be increased with a new allowance. The development of a better housing and accommodation system is on the horizon to reduce the number of anomalies occurring in the present housing and accommodation assistance program.

The ADF will soon implement the recommendations of the independent Review of Mental Health Care in the ADF and Transition through Discharge conducted by Professor David Dunt of the University of Melbourne. Information on the independent review, including the government's response, can be found here. The government claims in the White Paper that it is committed to the best mental health support of its ADF personnel. Given that an independent review of ADF mental health was conducted and a response issued, top brass seem to be taking the issue seriously and making necessary improvements.

Defence recognizes that it needs to address issues of retention. As such, it acknowledges that it must offer better remuneration and address issues such as frequent posting moves, housing, spousal employment, children's education and family support.

A dedicated web page on Defence's website concerning the White Paper can be found here.

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