The Conference was addressed by a panel of distinguished speakers that included:
Australian Strategic Policy Institute Executive
Senior Officers of the Australian Defence Force
Leading commentators on Defence matters
See below to download the presentations.
Summary of Proceedings
The conference was opened by Air Commodore Ken Watson, Commander Air Force Training Group, who welcomed delegates to the historic Point Cook Base. He stressed the dependence of Air Force on Reserves members and the vital role they play in the truly integrated Royal Australian Air Force.
During the Keynote Address, Major General Jim Barry DRA National President reiterated the history of part time members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and stated that their civilian skills represent an important latent capability available for use to the benefit of the nation during ADF deployments. In addition, the 2008 Defence White Paper that will guide the ADF development must include a clear recognition of the way in which the Defence Reserves can contribute to the multi-faceted and uncertain future national security.
The Government view was presented by Mr. Kelvin Thompson MHR on behalf of the Minister for Defence. He emphasised the importance of recognising that the part time component is integral to the ADF and not simply an add on to the regular force. The Defence Reserves have three distinct profiles the citizen reservist, (the Army model), former permanent force members (Navy / Air Force) and the specialist (e.g. health, legal etc) across all services. Each group requires special management, and he challenged the conference to debate how reservists can contribute meaningful capability within the White Paper framework of tightening budget and unpredictable national security risks.
The Hon Bob Baldwin Assisting Shadow Minister for Defence acknowledged the past work of the DRA as a community based advocacy organisation since 1969. He expressed disgust at the Government cuts in funding for reserve training days and emphasised the Coalitions commitment to a number of previously announced defence reserves programs. He called for strong representation to the White Paper public consultation process and promised that a Coalition Government would not allow our Reserves to become run down to the point where they became incapable of a meaningful contribution to ADF capability.
Guest speaker Dr. Paul Monk stressed the need for the White Paper to be informed by a depth of introspection and a rethink of how national and international security is understood. Our regular force must be buttressed by a highly skilled range of reserve specialists including doctors, dentists, scientists, computer specialists, intelligence analysts, engineers and logisticians specialists that are prohibitively expensive to keep on the permanent payroll but absolutely vital to the conduct of future military operations. The defence reserves need to be developed as an essential, extended and resilient national security component with a radically new approach to and attitude toward funding.
Head Reserves and Employer Support Division, Major General Greg Melick, stressed that the retention of the multitude of skills required for contemporary war fighting, peacekeeping, nation building, containment, domestic security, and humanitarian / disaster relief duties continues to be beyond the resources of the full time forces. In order for these skills to be available to the ADF from the part time component, conditions of service for reservists must be such that suitably trained members from the community are attracted to reserve service. Superannuation and an equitable remuneration rate divisor are obvious factors for review especially when considering the need to attract separating full time members into the reserves.
The Directors General of the three services gave the conference a snapshot of the contribution presently being made by reservists to defence capability, including the Naval Reserve Capability Enhancement Program, the expected assessment of the reserves operational contribution by the National Audit Office and the progress being made by Air Force in the Employment of the Operational Reserve concept.
Rear Admiral Graeme Shirtley reported on the transformation of Defence Health Services into a Joint Health Command a major reform in this critical overarching defence function.
Dr. Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) introduced the ground covered in a recently completed Reserves Study, emphasising that the reserves must continue to deliver guaranteed availability whilst ever the issue of cost / capability matching rightly remains the close focus of attention within Defence.
The open forum session conducted by Mr. Neil James the Executive Director of the Australian Defence Association, brought out lively and useful discussion on why the reserves should yet again be the subject of review. It was generally agreed that as the White Paper is presently in preparation, the time was propitious, that it was essential to have reserve issues on the table for inclusion, in order that the lower cost imperative of the reserves can be properly represented.
Major General Barry closed the conference again emphasising the need for the inclusion of all aspects of reserve defence capability contribution in the White Paper and that the normalization of Reserve Conditions of Service will remain the focus of the DRA. Reserve access within the chain of command must be improved and advice on reserve issues should be directly available to the most senior command levels. Further, it is essential that reservists are involved in capability development so that the reserve contribution is optimised and full use is made of reserve skills and availability. He judged the conference to be a timely and successful activity and thanked the Royal Australian Air Force for their assistance in staging the conference