Chapter One - Overview > Year in Review by the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force > page 4 of 4
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Year in Review by the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force

People

The enormous breadth of Defence activities and interests, covered elsewhere in this report, reflects the organisation's demanding agenda. We are heartened by the performance of our people - military, civilian and contracted support partners. In delivering the outcomes expected by Government, we remain committed to our values and to the enduring philosophy of Results through People, and recognising that how we do business is just as important as what we do.

In a recent review of workforce planning in Commonwealth departments and agencies 1, the ANAO observed that only Defence has a systematic and documented means of assessing the workforce impacts on organisational capability. The same report also highlighted innovative workforce management solutions implemented by Defence and offered several of our initiatives as examples for other agencies to follow.

ADF Recruitment and Retention

The overall separation rate for the ADF increased slightly in 2004-05, although remaining under the ten-year average, and overall recruiting targets were not met. This reflected, among other things, the tighter labour market conditions. Defence is pursuing a number of initiatives to improve recruiting generally and to retain personnel who are in specialist and technical trade categories in particular.

We continue to invest heavily in leadership and professional development, and in training to equip staff with the necessary skills to enhance career management and workplace performance and management. In addition to reviewing training on corporate finance and personnel systems, accessibility to e-learning facilities has been improved. In the coming year, we will review the current workplace arrangements to ensure we remain an employer of choice. This includes renegotiating the Defence Employees' Certified Agreement, in consultation with staff, providing further opportunity for Australian Workplace Agreements for Public Services Staff, and revising the ADF Workplace Remuneration Arrangement.

Military Justice

The administration of the military justice system was a significant issue for Defence during the year. In October 2003, the Senate referred the matter to the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report. The Committee tabled its report on 16 June 2005 and the Government's response was tabled on 5 October 2005. The Minister for Defence, in a statement to the Senate on that day, announced significant enhancements to the military justice system, representing fundamental change to the system. These changes balance the maintenance of effective discipline with protection of individuals and their rights. Key features include an Australian military court independent of ADF chains of command that will replace the current Courts Martial and Defence Force Magistrates, a new Chief of the Defence Force authorised Commission of Inquiry for complex or sensitive incidents with an independent civilian president, a joint ADF investigation unit and a streamlined complaints system.

We, and the Service Chiefs, are committed to providing a fair and equitable workplace that includes a transparent and cohesive military justice system and will be working hard over the next two years to implement these recommendation and enhancements.

In closing, we pay tribute to the enormous contribution made by General Peter Cosgrove, who commanded the ADF during the period covered by this annual report. He was an inspirational and highly professional leader. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to build on his work, and we wish him well in his future endeavours.

 

R.C. SMITH AO, PSM
Secretary
Department of Defence
A.G. HOUSTON AO, AFC
Air Chief Marshal
Chief of the Defence Force

  1. Australian National Audit Office, Audit Report No. 55 of 23 June 2005. [ back ]
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