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By Alisha Welch

The Defence Learning Branch, part of the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Group, was launched at the Australian Defence College in March. Since that time, the branch has notched up a number of ‘quick wins’ that form part of the organisation’s broader plan to improve the management of education and training across Defence. Director General Defence Learning Branch Brigadier Peter Gates spoke to Defence about the work of his team and why it’s important.

At the time the Defence Learning Branch was launched earlier this year, its reporting line shifted from the Defence People Group to the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Group. According to the branch’s Director General, Brigadier Peter Gates, this structural realignment makes sense because it places Defence education and training under a dedicated
two-star officer.

"Under the leadership of the Commander of the Australian Defence College, Defence will have a single point of accountability to the Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force for education and training," Brigadier Gates says.

"What this new arrangement does not do is take accountability away from those in the organisation who are responsible for specifying what is required in terms of education and training outcomes. The branch’s role is to generate and distribute the knowledge and evaluate the learning."

Brigadier Gates says the relationship between the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Group and Defence People Group is one of commitment and working together to reform education and training across Defence.

He says the Defence Learning Branch is unique in that it is the only organisation within Defence that takes a broad view of education and training across the ADF and public service elements of the department.

"Our priorities are to simplify education and training policy management, improve governance and how education and training is managed across Defence, and allow the department to better understand the education and training costs and improve its ability to get value for money," Brigadier Gates says.

"Ultimately, we aim to promote the cultural changes Defence needs to ensure focus is on getting the right person with the right skills at the right time."

Of course, achieving all of this poses many challenges, not the least of which is the fact that, across the department, everyone is busy.

"Everyone is working hard to get the most from the resources we have," Brigadier Gates explains.

"Our role is to link this work and to let people who is doing similar or related work know that this may be of use or could solve a problem in their particular area. The best way we can overcome this is for the branch to facilitate and support wider engagement in the education and training community."