Chapter 4

Australian Defence Force Cadets

Defence delivers youth development programs for young Australians aged between 12-and-a-half and 20 years of age through the operation and administration of Australian Navy Cadets, Australian Army Cadets and Australian Air Force Cadets. These Cadet organisations provide development opportunities that play an important role in shaping the values and life experiences of the young participants, as well as exposing them to a potential ADF career.

The Cadet organisations operate in a partnership between Defence and the community. In June 2008, there were approximately 22,000 Cadets and 2,287 Cadet staff in 455 units throughout Australia. In terms of gender breakdown, 80 per cent of ADF Cadets are male and 20 per cent are female.

Cadets' contribution to ADF recruitment

Cadets make a significant contribution to ADF recruitment with 10 to 18 per cent of general enlistments being ex-Cadets in recent years. This figure is significantly more than the one per cent of their age cohort they represent in the general population. Since 2001, ex-Cadets have provided 35 to 40 per cent of the annual intake to the Australian Defence Force Academy.

In recent years, the conversion rate of ex-Cadet inquiries to applications and then to enlistments has been double the success rate of non-Cadets.

Ongoing commitment to Cadets

The Government and Defence have recognised the pathway to ADF recruitment and the broader benefits of youth development in partnership with the community and are committed to maintaining vibrant Cadet organisations. In the 2007-08 Budget, the Government committed an additional $100m across 10 years to enhance and expand Cadets programs. This funding, together with funding from the Services, has provided for the support and management of their Cadet organisations, including the provision of uniforms and equipment, the payment of Cadet Forces Allowance to adult staff and the conduct of annual camps and bivouacs.

In 2007-08, specific initiatives to enhance the Cadet programs included:

The participation of more Indigenous youth in the Australian Defence Force Cadets is strongly encouraged through the Indigenous Participation Program (IPP). As part of a joint initiative with the Australian Navy Cadets and the Indigenous Liaison Officer-North Queensland, extensive work was undertaken to develop a remote Cadet initiative between the Palm Island Aboriginal Community in North Queensland and the ANC Training Ship Coral Sea in Townsville, Queensland. The initiative involves TS Coral Sea acting as a foster unit for Indigenous youth and volunteer staff from Palm Island who will be identified, selected, enrolled and trained as ANC Cadets and staff.

The Indigenous Cadet training officer for the Northern Territory has conducted three IPP Cadet camps which are an essential part of the overall training for Indigenous Cadets from predominately remote areas across the Northern Territory. The two initial camps provided a basic showcase of the Australian Army Cadets' functions and potential learning and developmental experiences, and the third camp focused on Cadets' understanding of the Cadet ethos, discipline and teamwork.

Review of Cadets

Despite the commitment to Cadets and the initiatives to expand and enhance the programs, numbers have generally been static or in slow decline for a number of years. Additionally, the three Cadet organisations operate separately within a complex legislative framework, and in a competitive youth development market. In June 2008, the Government announced an independent review into Cadets. The review will consider objectives and desired outcomes of ADF Cadets, as well as appropriate organisational and administrative arrangements. It is expected that the review will be considered by Government in the second half of 2008-09.

  1. [back]