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Submission to DFRT – Workplace Remuneration Arrangement 2023-26

DFWA was authorised by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) to make written and oral representations on behalf of Australian Defence Force members, separate to the chain of command, in respect of the Workplace Remuneration Arrangement 2023-26.

To inform the DFWA, a survey of current and former members of the ADF was conducted between 18 – 26 September 2023. There were 1,654 responses.

Oral Submissions

DFWA made the following oral submissions to the Tribunal:

Thank you for giving the Association the opportunity to intervene in this Matter.

DFWA serves the interests of all ADF members and their families both during and after their service.  Originally formed in 1959 as the Regular Defence Force Welfare Association, we dropped the “Regular” from our name several years ago, to reflect inclusivity of the Reserves and their increasing involvement in operations.

We are an independent Defence Service Organisation that has earned respect by virtue of our forthright advocacy and apolitical lobbying at the national level, as well as more direct advocacy and welfare support at the local level.  With regards to our involvement in past WRAs, we lobbied hard to convince the Government not to have members offset their pay rise by losing Conditions of Service. An appalling arrangement that has now been discarded.   

We were instrumental in pursuing the concept of the Unique Nature of Military Service and also the concept of a Defence Covenant.

More and more we find ourselves getting involved in matters relating to ADF Conditions of Service especially because they directly impact on families.

In our submission we have made our disappointment in the WRA clear.

Our position has been supported by the results of the survey we made and detailed in our Submission.  In essence, we believe the Proposal: 

  • will not make up for the increased Cost of Living being imposed on ADF Members and their families; and   
  • will do little to enhance recruitment and retention.  Our simple assertion is that pay is a major consideration in recruiting and retention.

We note recent pay increases awarded to other deserving sectors of the community against which the proposed WRA (which equates to 3.8% per annum) compares unfavourably: 

  • SEEK advised advertised salaries in 2022 for trades and services was 6.2%
  • NSW Government 8.5% increase to health workers
  • NSW Government essential workers 4.5%
  • and the NSW Government offer of significant rise to starting salaries for teachers quote “the offer recognises the value of work the NSW teachers do” unquote.

We do understand that salary is just part an overall salary package and there have been many recent initiatives in respect of leave and other benefits, in particular the rationalisation of allowances. . However many of our members commented that these alone don’t impact equally on all members and that in any case, some benefits are not able to be accessed because of the tempo of operations – additional leave being the obvious. Members are working harder and longer and this ought to be reflected in salary. 

We have also reflected on some related issues.

In particular we find it difficult to justify or understand the link between APS and ADF wage fixing arrangements.  The two cohorts are vastly different and yet the ADF seem beholden to, or play second fiddle to, APS processes.  For example, the delay in releasing the proposed Arrangement to the ADF was, we understand, attributable to the Commonwealth’s timeframe in tabling a revised APS offer. Why so we ask ?

The delay also impacted negatively on our ability to undertake a more extensive survey and Submission.

As another example, we wonder on what will happen on the proposed WRA increase should the APS then get more as a result of the currently reported CPSU opposition ? 

The intervention of the ADF in the past two years to provide two salary boosts suggests to us that additional funds – outside the formal WRA process – can be found when needed.  We assert they are needed now.

We also place on the table our view a. shorter WRA cycle – say two years – may provide a more nimble and flexible process in an era when the economy is becoming more volatile than in past decades. 

In summary, the ADF is a unique workforce that warrants their pay to be considered separate to the APS. ADF members and their families are astute enough to understand this.  They are uncomfortable with the arrangement and are disappointed with the 11.2% proposed WRA.

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Tribunal and I commend the Association’s Submission dated 27 September 2023 to you.

Further Information

DFWA’s In-Focus: WRA 2023-26