WRA 2020


August 2020 - The formal DFWA submission to the Defence Force Remunertation Tribunal is here.  The matter will be heard by the Tribunal on Friday 21 August 2020. 

6 August 2020 - UPDATE. 

DFWA thanks those who recently made comment on the proposed new Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA 2020) for the ADF.  Most responses were generally in agreement with the proposed new salary arrangements, however some did make reference to what may be happening with rents on DHA housing and whether the proposed six month delay in the first 2% salary increase will (or should) impact on the Group Rent Scheme (GRS). To answer that it may be useful to first understand how the GRS process works.

The GRS is based on an annual independent market rent review of housing rentals around Australia, and generally occurs around September.  Defence is then advised by DHA of any adjustments that may be required, based on the principle of Defence covering 50% of the market cost of rents and 50% being paid by the ADF member. Defence considers the DHA advice on any rent adjustments and, should it approve the new rates, they take effect in January each year.  Members then commence paying the new adjusted rate in late February.  In most cases this has meant an increase, but a decrease can also occur should market rates decrease in the period that the independent review took place.

So what impact could the WRA make on this process in 2020 ? Fundamentally, the WRA and the GRS are not linked….. they are separate processes that will continue to run their own course.  As indicated above, it is Defence that considers the DHA advice and ultimately implements the new rates.  Defence will be cognizant of the impact of the WRA on ADF members when it considers the matter at the end of this year. 

DFWA will be making a formal submission to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal along the lines we previously advised, and will advise the Tribunal of concerns members have raised with the DFWA


The current ADF pay arrangement is about to expire, and a new three-year Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) (2020-2023) is scheduled to commence at the end of this year. The DFWA will be involved again in the WRA process and will provide an independent voice to ensure the interests of members of the ADF and their families are properly considered as the WRA is considered. 

DFWA notes that the ADF has released a CDF signal (EC20-002623 DTG: 100426Z JUL 2020) and DEGRAM (281/2020 dated 13 July 2020) to alert ADF members of progress on the WRA.  It advises a proposition of two per cent per annum salary increase for a three year period, with no loss of any Conditions of service, will be submitted to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal for consideration in August 2020.

Consistent with the government direction for a six month deferral of Commonwealth public servant pay rises, it is also proposed that the first 2% increase be delayed from November 2020 to May 2021, with the second and third increases in November 2021 and November 2022, respectively.

In accordance with the government stay on SES remuneration increases, the WRA 2020-2023 proposition will not include star rank ADF members. Star rank remuneration will be considered separately in due course.

The DFWA intends to broadly support this proposition and will continue to monitor the situation and keep members updated as the matter progresses. 

In particular, DWFA will continue to support the principle of no loss any Conditions of Service (a principle we successfully championed in a previous WRA), and will submit that any changes to the proposal, including any situation caused by a resurgence of COVID-19, must be subject to full submissions by the parties. In such a case we would seek to intervene in any consideration of any such changes during the life of the Arrangement.

We welcome any comments or advice members may have on this matter, so that we are in a better position to put an objective, independent view to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal when it considers the matter in August. We also encourage members to make their views known via their Chain of Command, as outlined in the CDF Signal and DEFGRAM.

Should you have any comments you wish to make, drop the DFWA a note to wra@dfwa.org.au

Finally, DFWA also takes this opportunity to advise that later in the year there will be a broad review of allowances (part of the Defence Modernization Project).  This review will be completely separate to the WRA and the DFWA will be keeping tabs on that matter and providing further advice in due course.


The current ADF pay arrangement is about to expire, and a new Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) for three years was scheduled to commence at the end of this year.  The DFWA will be involved again the WRA process and will provide an independent voice to ensure the interests of members of the ADF and their families are properly considered as the WRA is negotiated.  The DFWA supports the recent decision of the Government, and as endorsed by the CDF, that any wage and salary-related allowance increases that are scheduled to occur over the next 12 months be deferred by six months.  The effectively means that the pay rise that would ordinarily be expected at the end of the year, as part of the new WRA, will now not occur until well into 2021.  The DFWA notes and supports the CDF comment that “we must be in step with community standards and expectations, so that while many Australians and families are facing significant economic difficulties, we take a pause on pay increases for ADF members”

Read the CDF's message of 9 April 2020 here.

The DFWA will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated as the matter progresses.  Should you have any comments you wish to make, drop the DFWA a note to wra@dfwa.org.au


On 16 August 2017 the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) sat to consider the Offer made by the Commonwealth and ADF for the ADF Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) 2017-2020. Basically, the Offer called for an annual increase in ADF Remuneration of 2% per annum in each of the three years.

That revised Offer followed extensive national lobbying by the DFWA which argued against the initial Offer that included “offets” including loss of leave entitlements for ADF members.  The DFWA was vermently opposed to the concerpt of offets and as a direct result of our lobbying and the national outcy that resulted, the Commonwealth and ADF submitted a new Offer for the Tribunal to consider, which deleted any reference to Offsets.

The DFWA then advised the Tribunal that:

a.       The proposed new 2/2/2% offer was at best marginally acceptable, as on the (then) current projections it would in all probably result in a diminution of spending power for most ADF families, and particularly for those on lower pay grades.

b.       We were disappointed to see that the Government had pursued a strategy of providing less than the (then) current Treasury forecast for CPI and WPI movement. We believed that, in time, such an approach would only make it more difficult for Defence to recruit and more particularly, to retain the high-quality people it needed in a technological age.

c.       Because this matter had been brought pursuant to s58KD of the Defence Act (see explanation below), the Tribunal’s authority in considering the matter was significantly reduced – that is, it could only give effect to the WRA, or could reject it entirely. We made the point that we did not believe rejection would be in the best interests of ADF members, and we therefore offered our reluctant support for the Offer.

Accordingly, the three year (2017-2020) WRA for the ADF gave ADF members a 2% pa wage increase for each of those three years, but without any offset or reductions of ADF member conditions of service or entitlements.

Read more about the 2017 WRA here.


Defence will start development of a new Arrangement during 2020, with a view to having it in place by the time the current 2020 WRA expires. The DFWA will again monitor the development of what the Commonwealth and ADF may offer, and represent the interests of members of the ADF at the DFRT.  


EXPLAINING s35B, s58H s58KD of the Defence Act

The Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal is an independent statutory body established pursuant to the Defence Act 1903.   Matters referred to the Tribunal are typically considered in one of two ways:  pursuant to Section 58H of the Act, or pursuant to Section 58KD of the Act. 

Section 58H allows the Tribunal to inquire into and determine the salaries and relevant allowances to be paid to members, or in respect of other matters brought before it.  A matter referred under Section 58H therefore allows the Tribunal to either accept, reject, or change it according to their own consideration. In this way the Tribunal’s powers are not limited: it may agree to the proposal brought before it, or dismiss it, or determine changes to it. 

By contrast, Section 58KD of the Act states the Tribunal may, in making a determination, only give effect to any agreement reached between the Parties (that is, the Minister (acting on behalf of the Commonwealth) and the CDF (acting on behalf of all ADF members), or reject it.  The Tribunal has no authority to change the proposal or make other Determination in its consideration.. This significantly limits the Tribunal’s authority.

Historically, Workplace Remuneration Arrangements are always brought to the Tribunal as matters agreed between the Parties, and so are typically the only occasions where Section 58KD is used. 

Finally, Section 58B refers to those matters that the Minister can directly control, and are outside the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. In this case it refers to matters relating to changes that the Department of Defence can levy on members – such as GRS, rations and quarters, etc.