Australian Defence Force mulls allowing Pacific islanders to serve amid recruitment drive

Photo: Nauru Government/Facebook

In a bid to bolster the ranks of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), various recruitment methods are under consideration, with a focus on potentially permitting residents from Pacific nations to join the force.

Defence Personnel Minister Matt Keogh revealed that diversifying recruitment avenues, including welcoming individuals from foreign countries, is being explored to address recruitment challenges within the ADF.

Minister Keogh highlighted that while the ADF currently allows transfers for personnel from the UK and US armed forces, they are contemplating extending this opportunity to individuals from neighboring Pacific countries.

Speaking on ABC Radio, he emphasized the importance of exploring diverse options to expand the defence force, acknowledging the attractiveness of Australia as a potential workplace for foreign recruits.

“We are certainly looking at all options that we need to look at in terms of how we can grow our defence force, and that includes looking at how we might be able to grow it from friendly forces from other countries,” Minister Keogh stated.

He assured that while the focus is on the Pacific, they are considering broader options to augment the ADF’s strength.

The federal government has not provided a definitive timeline for the decision regarding this proposed recruitment method.

This deliberation emerges as a significant number of defence personnel have recently accepted a one-time retention bonus payment of $50,000.

Approximately 85% of eligible personnel have opted for this incentive to commit to an additional three years of service with the defence force, aiming to address the exodus of skilled individuals.

“The payments were set aside in the last federal budget, with $400 million earmarked to address the exodus,” Minister Keogh explained.

He expressed optimism regarding the impact of these bonuses in retaining personnel, emphasizing the government’s efforts to enhance the attractiveness of continued service within the ADF.

The military recorded a separation rate of 11.2% in 2022/23, falling short of its retention targets.

Minister Keogh underscored the significance of the retention bonus in curbing the departure of army, navy, and air force personnel, aiming to encourage them to extend their service beyond their initial obligation.

While the debate over recruitment methods continues, the possibility of including residents from Pacific nations in the ADF could signify a significant shift in Australia’s defence force composition, adding diverse skills and experiences to its ranks.

The government remains committed to addressing recruitment challenges and retaining skilled individuals within the ADF.

The evolving discussions surrounding recruitment strategies indicate a proactive approach by the Australian government to fortify its defence capabilities amid ongoing challenges in personnel retention