Reserves and Cadets
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) Reserves make up over a quarter of the total ADF and play a vital role in Australia's defence capability. The role of the Reserves is changing to suit the needs of a modern defence force. They are no longer viewed as solely a mobilisation base in times of major conflict. Reserves also contribute to operations arising at short notice, help sustain operations, assist in domestic peacetime operations and provide additional capacity to support periods when the ADF requires extra personnel to accommodate training and operational schedules.
This has been illustrated by recent deployments of Reserves to East Timor and Bougainville, as well as support to the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The November 2002 battalion rotation to East Timor, for the first time, will include a Reserve-based company.
The Government has acknowledged the changing place of the Reserves in the Defence White Paper. Like the Cadet program, the importance of the Reserves was emphasised in the White Paper, with initiatives outlined to improve legislation on their employment, training opportunities, recruitment and retention strategies, and links to the broader community.
The ADF Cadets is a youth training organisation that provides leadership and initiative training while developing the interest of young people in the ADF. The program is aimed at youth between the ages of twelve and a half and eighteen, and is conducted within a military context in schools and other community settings. There are currently around 25,000 Cadets participating in the program across Australia.
The Cadet scheme performs the dual functions of developing the individual and strengthening the ADF. Cadets cultivate personal and team qualities that will benefit them, and their communities, regardless of what path they choose in later life, as well as fostering community spirit and service in participants.
At the same time, the scheme provides a tangible link for the ADF to the wider community, encouraging community involvement with and support for the ADF. Nor is this the only benefit of the scheme to the ADF. The 1999 ADF census revealed that 22% of full-time ADF members, and 25% of active Reserves, were involved in the Cadet scheme prior to joining the Services, and the retention rate for Service personnel previously involved in the Cadets is also proportionally higher.
The Government recognised the value of Cadets to the community and the ADF in the Defence White Paper, with funding being boosted to $30m per year by 2002 in order to expand and improve the scheme.