High personnel turnover: the Australian Defence Force is not a limited liability company

Author/s (editor/s):

Cathy Downes

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 44

Australian governments have, at times, adopted a somewhat careless attitude towards securing and retaining people for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The failure to husband the military manpower resource with commitment and constence has led to increased workloads without appropriate recognition and compensation, application of discriminatory policies, loss of faith in senior leaderships, and a decline in the institutional health and operational effectiveness of Australia's defence forces. One manifestation of these conditions is a costly increase in the rates of military personnel turnover. To an increasing number of Service people, the Australian government has breached the unwritten contract between the military profession and the State, and they are opting to terminate their service as a consequence. There is a vital and urgent need to repair this breach and take measures to deal with the costs of high personnel turnover which, even if rates are reduced, will plague the ADF for the foreseeable future.

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