Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division
MAJGEN Iain Spence CSC, RFD
Today’s presentation starts with updates on current items of Reserve interest. These are the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme, the proposed amendments to the Defence Reserve Service Protection Act, the Tasman Scheme, ForceNet, and the restructure of Cadet Reserve and Employer Division (CRESD). It will also cover an abbreviated Defence Reserve Support Council presentation, originally scheduled to be delivered by Jacqueline Pascarl who was unfortunately prevented from attending at the last minute.
Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme. The CDF has approved a suite of amendments to the Act. Although most tidy up minor issues, a key amendment is to make it clear that qualifying Reserve service has to be eight consecutive years. Although this can be seen as a step back for Reservists, the decision brief for the CDF was the fairest outline of the case for and against I have seen on this subject since it was raised four or five years ago. The Defence People Group argument is that the amendment means that the legislation will reflect the original Defence policy guidance and the current administration of the scheme. While this will be disappointing for some reservists, on the plus side the Defence People Group have undertaken to conduct a proper cost/benefit analysis of DHOAS in terms of retention (one of its aims) as part of an overall review of Reserve conditions of service. CRESD will be heavily involved in this review.
Defence Reserve Service Protection Act. The Act review is still moving through the system, but faster than before. It has now been allocated a Parliamentary drafter and initial meetings with CRESD staff have been productive. The bill is scheduled to go to parliament in the 2017 Autumn sitting. The amendments are designed to simplify and improve the Act and to enhance protection for Reservists.
For example, the amendments extend protection to all types of Reserve service and remove the current distinction between ‘protected’ and ‘unprotected’ continuous full time service, making it all ‘protected’. In addition, the amendments strengthen protection for students and those in a business partnership.
Tasman Scheme. This is a scheme where currently individual reserve Junior NCOs from Australia and New Zealand undertake an attachment to each other country’s military. The Defence Reserves Association (DRA) plays an active role in selecting the participants and a new MOU between the DRA and Defence was signed at the 2016 DRA Conference. At the request of the NZDF, from next year the scheme will be extended to include Junior Officers.
ForceNet. ForceNet is a secure ePortal enabling communication, coordination and workforce assurance. It has the look, feel, and ease of use of popular media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Seek and Twitter. Technical responsibility for ForceNet transitioned from CRESD to the Chief Information Officer’s Group earlier this year and the Defence People Group are scheduled to become the business owner on 16th August 2016.
There are currently over 21,000 registered ForceNet users and is anticipated that the next development will be the extension of ForceNet to Defence families. This is an important step as it involves developing a new ‘trust anchor’ (the mechanism for determining if someone should be allowed access) for those without active PMKeyS numbers. Once this is done it will potentially allow other groups, such as ex-members or employers of Reservists, to be given access parts of ForceNet.
CRESD will be restructured (and potentially renamed) from early 2017. The original impetus for this came from the changes to the public service staff levels (CRESD has lost 30% of its staff entitlement in the last three years and pressure on Defence public service staff numbers means these will not be restored). Over the past six months CRESD has been conducting an analysis of its required functions, and in particular the requirements of its stakeholders and ‘customers’. This has revealed a strong appetite within the services for CRESD to take a more prominent leadership role in the Reserve area. It has also reaffirmed the need for CRESD to be a centre of excellence in providing advice on the ADF Reserves and Cadets at all levels from the Minister, to the senior uniformed leadership, and to Reservists and their employers – and to deliver Reserve and Youth and Cadet related programs.
Progress in this was delayed by the ADF review of its 2 star Headquarters and the Kafer review of the ADF Cadet structure in the light of the recent Defence case study in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse. The Kafer review is scheduled to go before the Chief of Services Committee in October 2016 and envisages an enhanced role for CRESD in the leadership of the ADF Cadets, while retaining its current role in Reserves.
One of the areas CRESD is currently examining is the role of Reservists in developing Australia’s cyber defence capability. The Defence white paper 2016 emphasised the need for this capability need and the challenge in finding qualified and suitable people to staff it. CRESD is currently approaching this on two levels, the first being the potential role for the CRESD Defence Work Experience Program in this. The other is the potential role for Reservists with IT skills and our ability to recruit and manage people with those skills. Areas for consideration here are whether different entry standards and different conditions of service are required.
Defence Reserves Support Council
The Defence Reserves Support Council (DRSC) is a consultative council that works to the responsible Minister (Minister Tehan) and the Head, Cadet Reserves and Employer Support Division (HCRESD). Its roles are to provide advice to the Minister and HCRESD; to foster and promote the availability of Reserves to serve; to promote the adoption of Reserve-supportive policies and practices in business, industry, and education; to promote the benefits of Reserve service in the community; and to act as an interface between Defence and industry, employers, and community.
It has a national executive and beneath that a committee in each state or territory (some of the larger states also have regional committees working to the state committee). Support to the executive is provided from CRESD in Canberra, while support to the state or territory committees is provided by a locally-based military officer of Major equivalent rank – generally full-time, although some of the smaller states and territories have a Reservist – and a public servant. The state and territory support staff work direclyt to CRESD and support to the DRSC forms only part of their duties (albeit an important one).
The DRSC national executive comprises a Chair, two Vice-Chairs, a Senior Member (who has been a state or territory chair and whose duties include mentoring the current chairs) and HCRESD. The broader council has 31 members and includes the national executive, the state and territory chairs, and representatives from employers, education, government, and the community. The latter include the Defence Reserves Association and the three Directors General of Reserves. However, this structure is currently under review to try to reduce the size and improve the gender balance.
To further its aims, the DRSC works closely with CRESD in a variety of activities. One of the most important is the Supportive Employer Program. This involves employers committing to the following statement:
“All Australians share responsibility for our national security, including a capable and resilient Australian Defence Force with permanent and reserve components.
As responsible corporate citizens, we pledge support to our employees/students who serve our nation as Australian Defence Force Reservists, and to provide the leave required for their service obligations.”
When an employer signs up, CRESD has readier access to them, for example so that the Office of Reserve Service Protection can assist them with developing ‘Reserve friendly’ leave policies. If you know of an employer who might be interested in signing up, the website is: http://www.defencereservessupport.gov.au
However, the DRSC is involved in much more than this and raises awareness of Reserve service in the community and especially with employers through a variety of activities such as Exercise Executive Stretch, VIP Challenge, Boss Lift, Bring a Boss, and ‘Boardroom Buzz’. The first two involve employers getting a taste of Reserve service over two days. Boss Lift and Bring a Boss involve bringing employers of Reservists to see them in the field on exercise or deployment or, in the case of Bring a Boss, in the barracks environment. Boss Lift has brought employers and key stakeholders to major exercises across Australia as well as to deployed Reservists in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, and training at Rifle Company Butterworth in Malaysia. The ‘Boardroom Buzz’ was a South Australian initiative that has generally been adopted by other state and territory committees and involves promoting Reserve service to a gathering of employers from a specific industry or business area.
Sponsorship of industry and business events are also used to get the message across. A recent, large scale, and very successful, sponsorship was of the Women@theAlfred in Melbourne on August 12th, organised by Jacqueline Pascarl, one of the national Vice-Chairs. This is a charity lunch and auction for prostate cancer research and involved 600 guests, many from the top echelons of the Melbourne business community.
The CDF spoke about the role of Reserves, Reserve promotional slides and videos were played during the lunch, and Defence donated several items for the charity auction. These included participation in Executive Stretch activities (one from each service), flights in the RAAF balloon and a fighter, and attending the December ADFA graduation as a VIP guest of the CDF, followed by lunch with him and senior officers. This event raised the profile of Defence in general and the Reserves in particular, and the Defence auction items proved a money spinner. The event as a whole raised over $930,000.
The DRSC also run state-based employer support awards for particularly supportive employers. The winners at this level are nominated for a national award. In addition (in a similar way to the DRA involvement in the Tasman Scheme), the DRSC are partnered with CRESD in selecting the winners of the Prince of Wales award. This gives a Reservist up to $8000 for a civilian work-related trip or course – to recognise their service and the commitment of their employer.
The DRSC also work with CRESD’s Office of Reserve Service Protection to develop MOU with major employers. These complement the provision of the Reserve Service Protection Act by setting up a framework for collaboration between the employer and Defence to ensure a good relationship and the quick and smooth resolution of any issues. There are over 30 of these, mainly with private enterprise, but we also have MOU with the SA and ACT Governments, and are currently negotiating one with the WA Government.
The DRSC has had rather a renewal in the last two years, largely because of the energetic work of the two current Vice-Chairs, Professor Murray Lampard and Ms Jacqueline Pascarl. This has seen, among other initiatives, a revamped Supportive Employer statement, and a significant effort to target ‘high value’ employers for the program.
There are, however, some issues and areas for improvement. These include perennial questions about the structure and cost of the DRSC and how we measure its value for money. This is tricky as many of the activities we believe do contribute to supporting Reservists have intangible (or at least hard to measure) effects. Another issue is identifying exactly what the DRSC wants from its State and Territory Chairs – a subject of current discussion.
A noted above, there is also a gender imbalance in the DRSC. However, the proposed restructure will see an improvement to 33% female representation on the DRSC. This is still short of the minimum Defence requirement of 40%, but that target should be reached over the next two to three years.
The final issue is another longstanding one – the tension often caused when the enthusiasm of DRSC members, many of whom are from private industry, runs into Defence bureaucracy and procedures. This is currently worsened by staff shortages in CRESD but are not insurmountable given goodwill and understanding between the DRSC and Defence – and enthusiasm is always better than apathy!