5 May 2023

ADF to pay bonuses and improve defence housing in a bid to boost personnel retention rates

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Army, Air Force, or Navy (pictured) recruits sign a return of service obligation (ROSO) of varying lengths after they graduate, depending on their level of training. Photo: ADF.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is looking to implement a series of retention bonuses from next year for personnel who sign on to extend their service in a bid to halt a drain of skilled and trained troops.

One of the six key recommendations of last week’s Defence Strategic Review was to turn around falling recruitment and retention rates as the ADF looks to grow its numbers to be able to operate a slew of new capabilities entering service in the next decade.

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To that end, the government has pledged $400 million to establish a continuation bonus scheme for experienced ADF members as an incentive for ongoing service beyond their initial period of return of service obligation (ROSO).

In an announcement on Tuesday (2 May), it said ADF personnel could be eligible for a bonus payment of $50,000 if they sign on for an additional three years past their ROSO period.

The government says it expects the bonus scheme to benefit about 3400 personnel out to 2027, but says it will be reviewed in 2026 to ensure it is actually contributing to an increase in retention rates.

As a further incentive, the government will also commit $2 million towards a review of defence housing policy following increasing interest and rental rates and a shortage of suitable properties to rent or buy, and says it recognises the challenges a mobile workforce like the ADF has in being able to secure housing.

Last October, the government announced a $46.2 million expansion of the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme, but says it recognises more can be done to improve the defence housing system.

Richard Marles

Defence Minister Richard Marles speaks with Australian Defence Force Academy students at the announcement on 2 May. Photo: ADF.

The review will look at contemporary and future housing needs of ADF members; review policies relating to defence residences and rental assistance against these needs; review current home ownership support benefits and policies; and identify new opportunities to encourage and enable home ownership for ADF members.

“When it comes to Defence our people are our greatest asset,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said in a release following Tuesday’s announcement. “We know Defence is facing greater challenges to recruit, retain and grow its workforce than it has for decades.

“There is a lot of work to be done, but these investments will be an important step towards ensuring we have the highly-skilled Defence Force needed to keep Australians safe.”

Minister for Defence Personnel Matt Keogh added: “It’s no secret that in the current low unemployment environment it is more difficult than ever to recruit and retain staff. This bonus will ensure Defence retains its greatest capability – its people.”

Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.

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