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Australian Defence Force announces changes to leave, heat management policies

Australian Army Gunners from the 103rd Battery, 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery fire the M777A2 howitzer at Mount Bundey Training Area as part of Exercise Predator's Walk. Photo: GNR Reuben Woof

The Australian Defence Force has announced additional benefits for serving personnel with changes to leave for dual-serving couples and heat policy.

The Australian Defence Force has announced additional benefits for serving personnel with changes to leave for dual-serving couples and heat policy.

Under the changes, dual-serving couples’ leave-sharing arrangements have been introduced and later this year, ADF personnel will also have the ability to take recreation leave at half pay and take purchased recreation leave upfront.

As part of the ADF Leave Framework, introduced in July last year, changes were previously introduced to provide improved flexibility in how ADF personnel manage their leave, simplified leave types and increased basic recreational leave from 20 to 25 days per financial year.


Squadron Leader Aleisha Croxford, of the People Policy Employment Conditions Branch, is positive about the additional leave changes, particularly the dual-serving couple arrangements.

“My husband and I are both serving members with two young children. When one of us has been deployed or posted away from our family, the person who is at home with the children runs out of leave pretty quickly, while the person away has limited opportunities to take their basic recreation leave,” SQNLDR Croxford said.

“The ability for dual-serving couples to be able to transfer recreation leave to their partners in these situations will be really helpful for us.

“Taking leave at half pay is also another initiative that I am looking forward to being able to access when it will be implemented later this year.

“Leave at half pay will provide me with greater flexibility when it comes to caring for our children and managing school holidays.”

In addition, the Australian Defence Force is trialling a revised heat management policy and developing a new heat-risk assessment tool to reduce heat injury and illness.

A heat casualty in 2021 led Army to review its heat management policy, how it was applied and whether it was fit for purpose, according to Work Health and Safety – Army Director Colonel Brendan Robinson.

“Army’s heat policy has been in place since the early 2000s. In that time we’ve changed how we operate, what equipment we use and what we wear,” COL Robinson said.

“We needed to update our heat policy and tools, to make sure that we minimise the risk of heat casualties occurring in our people.”

Army Work Health and Safety, with the Directorate of Army Health, Genesys Business Unit and Defence Science and Technology Group, revised the heat policy and developed a new heat-risk assessment tool.

Drawing on research from the US and the UK, work-rest and recovery tables were updated to reflect best practice and to capture a greater variety of work and intensity levels for commanders to plan accordingly.

The revision also includes simplified hydration and acclimatisation guidance and updates the work-rest tables to reflect current uniforms.

The Genesys Heat Risk Assessment Tool includes a smart spreadsheet with weather details for 100 Defence sites, which transforms weather, activity, and intensity data into information for activity planners.

The policy reform also emphasises rapid-active cooling like air-conditioning in vehicles or cold-water immersion as a more effective means to lower core body temperature – a key driver of heat injury or illness.

Trialling began earlier this year at 1 Brigade. It was also used during the first combined Special Forces Selection Course in Western Australia. Changes are being field-tested during Exercise Predator’s Run to validate the policy before planned release at the end of October.

“We’re doing this work now because when the high-risk weather season ramps up and it becomes hot in the Top End, we want to have a policy that’s ready to go,” COL Robinson said.

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