Update on Reserve and Youth Division
Presented by Rear Admiral Brett Wolski, Head Reserve & Youth Division
Good afternoon MAJGEN Paul Irving (Retd), Senior Officers, reservists, and guests of the Defence Reserves Association Conference. Thank you for that warm introduction. Happy 50th anniversary and congratulations to the Defence Reserves Association. It is a pleasure to be here for my first Defence Reserves Association Conference. I am also very pleased to be here to share with you how Reserve and Youth Division are Building on the Success of the Total Workforce Model.
What you should take away today from all the briefs is that the Department of Defence is moving forward on the Total Workforce Model to achieve more Defence capability.
Total Workforce Model (TWM)
With that in mind, I wanted to start this presentation by reinforcing a key takeaway message. We all have a responsibility to keep building on the success of the Total Workforce Model.
Many of us here today have an area of focus within the Department that delivers effective outcomes for part time members of the ADF to render service. But, the Total Workforce Model is but one system in a sea of efforts to assure we have the best people to deliver upon Government’s objectives and projects. Some of the systems discussed here today include recruiting and training of our Reservists, transition between service categories and engagement of employers of Reservists.
An external example of a future workforce challenge
An external example of a future workforce challenge is the Naval Ship Building Plan. The Naval Ship Building Plan of 2017 outlines the Government’s vision for the Australian naval shipbuilding enterprise and the significant investment required in coming decades. Deeply ingrained in the Plan, as one of four key tenets, is the shipbuilding workforce. The Plan seeks a continuously growing, technically skilled workforce, in fields of construction, sustainment, logistics, infrastructure, training and advance technology. These skills, of course, are exactly what is needed in Defence as well and the Total Workforce Model is key to unlocking the potential of the shared workforce between Defence and Defence Industry.
Mission of Reserve and Youth Division
Reserve and Youth Division’s mission is to deliver strategic leadership and enabling services to Reserve and Youth programs in support of Defence capability. Defence has a key interest around reservists and their civilian employers and how Defence can support them. The Defence Reserves Support Council is a main support mechanism, which Jane McAloon discussed earlier as being reviewed now. Defence’s Employer Support Payment Scheme is another support mechanism and last financial year provided $14.5 million to employers of Reservists and self-employed Reservists when rendering ADF service.
We also continued to assure ADF Reservists are protected through the Reserve Service Protection Act. On the 29th of March this year, amendments to the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001 were passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The amendments have:
• moved the complaint, investigation and mediation scheme from the regulations to the Act;
• reduced the formality surrounding complaint handling and investigations; • clarified the ability to provide information obtained in an investigation to various parties; and
• Introduced the option of holding a ‘compulsory conference’ as an alternative dispute resolution measure.
In addition to amending the Act, in the past six months, the Directorate of Reserve and Employer Support within Reserve and Youth Division has consolidated two of its functional areas – the Office of Reserve Support Protection and the Employer Support Payment Scheme into the Employer Support and Service Protection area.
The restructuring of the Directorate of Reserve and Employer Support also coincides with extended access to advice for ADF Reservists and employers through the 1800 DEFENCE call centre network, as discussed by Jane McAloon. A benefit of transferring this service through to the 1800 DEFENCE call centre is extended hours of advice and the ability to accurately collect data on phone enquiries. For example, between 15 April to 31 July:
• 84 calls were received regarding enquiries about Reserve Service Protection,
• 41 calls about Defence Reserves Support,
• 10 calls on Reserve policy, and
• 471 calls on the Employer Support Payment Scheme.
Of note, the priority area for information being requested is on payments. I encourage you to share with your colleagues, units and staff that advice can be sought through the 1800 DEFENCE call centre.
Change in the traditional model of Reserve service
The traditional model of reserve service has changed. The total workforce model is evidence of this, with an improved means for members to transition more flexibly between service categories. This model is typically from the view of full-time members transitioning to be part-time members. However, means to transition part-time members to the full-time workforce are just as important. Youth engagement programs are an investment to our future workforce and can offer a logical progression for young Australians to move into the Department of Defence.
The Youth and Cadet Program
In past National Conferences there has been little discussion of the youth engagement that Defence does – and the benefits of increasing interest in a career in Defence. Youth programs matter to the Defence, and they are going to increase in importance as we need to find innovative ways to address our future workforce challenges.
In 2016, the Defence White Paper identified the Defence Work Experience Program as an effective attraction tool to increase diversity and STEM participation among young people. Over the past two financial years, our numbers have steadily increased from 2060 to 2291 participants in work experience activities. For this financial year, my team is working towards a national participation rate of 3000 students! Many of you know the ADF Cadets have a deep and rich history intertwined with community groups and school communities. What you may not know is how successful the ADF Cadets program is for our wider workforce.
• ADF Cadet applicants are at least two to three times more likely than non-cadet peers to attend an assessment day.
• Following assessment, ADF Cadets are more successful than their peers in Reserve Service enlistment.
o 33% of ADF Cadets assessed for Officer Entry to the reserve service enlist in the ADF
o 48% of ADF Cadets assessed for General Entry to the reserve service enlist in the ADF.
Therefore we will keep investing in the cadet programs and keep our other youth engagement program opportunities for young Australians. It is good for the Australian community and good for the ADF.
In closing, Defence is working to fully integrate the Total Workforce Model to improve Defence capability, and I thank the Defence Reserves Association for their efforts, over the past 50 years, to contribute to this outcome.