defence connect logo



‘We have no time to waste’: Keogh details Labor’s ADF recruitment and retention platform

Image credit: Department of Defence | Cpl Michael Currie

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh sat down with Defence Connect to detail the Albanese government’s plan to enhance recruitment and retention within the Australian Defence Force.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh sat down with Defence Connect to detail the Albanese government’s plan to enhance recruitment and retention within the Australian Defence Force.

Embracing risk and improving incentives for service members will be at the core of the Albanese government’s Australian Defence Force recruitment and retention platform, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel told Defence Connect this week.

The government’s workforce strategy has been launched following April’s Defence Strategic Review, which detailed significant ADF, APS, and defence industry workforce challenges that threaten to hinder Australia’s warfighting capability.


The review’s authors, Professor Stephen Smith and former chief of the defence force Sir Angus Houston, detailed that the workforce challenges were so acute that the Royal Australian Navy would face “challenges” ensuring combat readiness and integrating future capabilities into service.

Recommendations within the document include broadening Defence’s recruitment framework to expand the eligibility pool of candidates, centralising ADF personnel management, and conducting a comprehensive review into Reserve forces.

Speaking to Defence Connect, Minister Keogh lambasted underinvestment in the ADF’s workforce under the previous government that has left it unable to meet workforce objectives.

“In their time in government, the Opposition only grew the ADF by about 2,000 personnel in a decade and in recent years, the size of the ADF has been going backwards,” Minister Keogh explained.

“The Defence Strategic Review made it clear that based on the strategic circumstances we face, we need to improve the recruitment and retention of ADF personnel, and we have no time to waste.”

To achieve this, Minister Keogh explained that the federal government is in the process of instituting a range of recommendations from the Defence Strategic Review that will both enhance Defence’s recruitment process but also help deliver a fulfilling career for current members of the ADF.

“The Defence Strategic Review recommends changes to policy, process, risk appetite, and our approach to recruitment in order to meet our workforce goals,” the minister explained.

“After all, our people are our most important Defence capability and we want more Australians to have the chance to experience a rich and rewarding career in the ADF.”

In May, the federal government took the step of appointing then Major General Natasha Fox to the role of Chief of Personnel, who has been tasked with overseeing an increase in the efficiency of personnel management across all services.

“We took swift action to appoint a new Chief of Personnel, whose role it is to manage all personnel matters across the five domains, reporting directly to the Chief of the Defence Force,” he explained.

“I’m working closely with Lieutenant General Fox as we strive to improve the recruitment of people into Defence, and importantly retain those people, making sure they, and their families are best supported during their time in service.”

The government has also taken steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of recruitment, partnering with Adecco for the creation of ADF Careers.

Billed as a new era for recruitment, the government hopes the new partnership will reduce time taken for recruitment into the ADF, which can currently take up to a year.

“Last month, I joined Lieutenant General Fox to launch ADF Careers, marking a new era for Australian Defence Force Recruitment.

“It’s no secret we need to step up our recruitment efforts, and the DSR has confirmed that.

Through the Albanese government’s new approach to Defence recruitment, we are reaching further than we ever have before, making sure that we’re taking Defence careers direct to prospective candidates, no matter their location.

Many people are surprised to learn about the diversity of roles on offer in the ADF – alongside the traditional ADF roles you might expect, we need health specialists, mechanics, and marine technicians, sparkies and data specialists, and many more.

We need to better attract people to the ADF, and when we do, we need to get them in the door.

Working with our new recruitment partner, Adecco, we will be opening the door to more people, and getting them through the recruitment pipeline faster.

We’re also improving the support for people in service, with retention bonuses, improvements to entitlements, health care, and access to housing.”

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!