DRA's Report to the DRSC National Meeting 5 May 2017
DEFENCE RESERVE ASSOCIATION (DRA) REPORT
NATIONAL DRSC MEETING – 5 May 2017
- The DRA, which is a tri-service organisation, is the only advocacy group representing Defence Reservists. It has branches in all States and Territories, except for the ACT.
- In December 2016, DRA was requested by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) to make a submission to the JSCFADT’s inquiry into matters raised in the 2015-16 Defence Annual Report. In particular, the inquiry was to focus on personnel matters, including Project Suakin and flexible workplace practices.
- The DRA in its submission to the JSCFADT pointed out that extensive research undertaken in 2011 by Ernst & Young under Plan Suakin revealed that Reserve personnel capability would be greatly enhanced through better support for the employment of Reservists and enhanced remuneration by way of Reserve allowances and superannuation. Regrettably, from the DRA perspective, in implementing the Total Workforce Model, the aim in Suakin to develop a Reserve structure, supported by ‘appropriate remuneration’ to provide the ADF with a highly reliable core part-time workforce has not been achieved.
- In its submission, DRA articulated that the ADF Reserves are the only part time paid workforce in the Australian community not eligible for any employer-contributed superannuation and there is a moral issue with Indigenous Reservists, who are members of the Regional Force Surveillance Units, not receiving any employer superannuation in their paid part time ADF employment.
- DRA also pointed out that there is no legislation, regulation or any policy that supports the premise that employees who receive tax-free salary are not eligible for superannuation. Any move to tax Reservists pay based on the current divisor (i.e. dividing the appropriate Regular salary by 365 to arrive at a daily rate of pay for Reservists) raises significant equity issues. Most organisations use a divisor in the range 220 to 250. Taxation of Reserve pay would require the introduction of a new and more equitable divisor for calculating the daily rate of pay for Reservists.
- DRA concluded that whilst implementation of the Total Workforce Model has raised awareness of the Reserve capability, there is a significant risk that there will be little difference in the structure and utilisation of Reservists before and post implementation of the Model. The ADF has not grasped the opportunity presented by Suakin to optimise the use of its Reserves.
- At the DRA 2016 National Conference, Chief of Army spoke about the ageing Army Reserve workforce and that the Army Reserve recruitment process is broken. This was followed by a presentation by BRIG Arnold from HQ 2 Div on initiatives being implemented to improve recruiting and retention of Army Reservists. In March 2017, DRA organised for the COMD 2 Div, to brief senior retired Reserve officers on the ‘Army Reserve Transformation Plan’ that aims to stabilise the Army Reserve workforce into a single plan focusing on opening recruiting pathways, aligning depots and demography, and making structural arrangements to better support training of Reservists.
- In response to a review then being undertaken by DVA into the National Consultative Framework, the DRA made a detailed submission in support of its position that the DRA should be represented on the Ex Service Organisations Round Table (ESORT), which is the main forum of advice to the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs.
- DRA was requested at short notice to nominate a female Reserve veteran and female spouse of a Reserve veteran to the DVA Female Veterans and Families Forum that was held in Canberra on 5/6 December 2016 to explore issues of concern to female veterans, their families, partners and widows of veterans. We await the report from DVA on the outcomes of this forum.
- Finally, the DRA has been advised that the proposed amendments to the Defence Reserves Service (Protection) Act 2001 should be considered by Parliament in the ‘spring’ session of Parliament, only 10 years after Greg Garde completed his review into the Act.
- The number of serving Reservists is currently at an all time low. The DRA considers that the DRSC should be consulted on the proposed Defence People Group review of ADF conditions of service, in consultation with the Reserve and Youth Division and the ADF Services.
- Further the DRA considers that the DRSC should be consulted on any recruiting and related initiatives that potentially impact on employers.
Current and Future Initiatives
- “Reserve Forces at the Crossroads!” is the theme of the 2017 DRA National Conference that will be held on Saturday 19 August 2017 in the Comfort Inn Airport International at Queanbeyan.
President of the Defence Reserves Association
21 April 2017