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Sweeping changes to protect Reserves.



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Media Release The Hon Bruce Scott MP Minister for Veterans’ Affairs · Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence · Federal Member for Maranoa

MIN 232/00 Thursday, August 24, 2000

SWEEPING CHANGES TO PROTECT RESERVES The Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Scott, today announced that Reservists and their employers will benefit from this weeks Cabinet decision to provide protection for civilian jobs and financial support to employers of Reservists.

A package of financial incentives will be introduced to help compensate employers who support the absence of their employee-Reservists and incurred additional costs as a result, based on average adult full-time weekly earnings, Mr Scott said.

"These incentives were developed following consultation with a wide range of interest groups, including peak employer representatives."

"Earlier this week Federal Cabinet finalised a comprehensive package of initiatives to make Australian Defence Force (ADF) Reserve service more attractive to Reservists and to civilian employers who release the Reservists for military training and deployment."

Federal Cabinet has also agreed to an injection of $20 million to the Defence Reserves in this year's budget to support these measures.

"The Government acknowledges the great commitment that Reservists make to ADF operational capability," Minister Scott said.

"Reservists now make up about 42 percent of the total ADF and are soon to grow to about 50 percent."

Mr Scott said the Reserves had a vital role to play in the defence of Australia and that Reserve volunteers had also made significant contributions to our successful international commitments in Bougainville and East Timor.

"Legislative changes will be brought in shortly to allow for the call out of the Reserves for operations such as peace enforcement, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations," he said.

"The Government does not intend to regularly call out Reservists under the new legislation, but to exercise this option only in times of exceptional need".

The current situation where most of the ADF's operational needs for Reservists were met by voluntary employment has worked well, and the Government would continue to encourage this.

"We recognise that Reserve service for extended training or deployment on operations could cause some hardship to Reservists, their families and civilian employers," the Minister said.

"Legislation will also provide meaningful levels of employment protection for Reservists and their employers, including measures for small business, the self-employed, and students."

The Government also recognised that the wider community must be engaged to work together to improve Reserve availability.

"We need to encourage acceptance of Reserve service and improve Reserve retention by better explaining the roles and responsibilities of Reservists, and to educate employers about the benefits of Reserve service," Mr Scott said.

"Many skills gained by Reservists can be directly transferred to the workplace, and the ADF has a continuing program to have military and skills training recognised within the national training accreditation framework."

"This accreditation program will be accelerated," the Minister said.

Accredited training would provide more evidence to employers of the direct benefit in supporting their employee-Reservists.

"The Defence Reserves Support Committee (DRSC), the peak body for giving advice to the Government and the ADF on Reserve employment matters, will be restructured and enhanced. This would include broadening the scope of community consultation, to include employer, business and trade union groups, and youth representatives, ethnic community councils, the media and education sectors."

"By putting in place a range of measures which will protect the interests of both Reservists and their employers, the Government is confident that the Reserve contribution to the Australian Defence Force will be significantly enhanced," Mr Scott said.

Media contact:        Mark Croxford          02 6277 7820 or 0408 645 787

 

Phone: 61 (02) 62777820 Fax: 62734140 Email: Bruce.Scott.MP@aph.gov.au Website: http://www.defence.gov.au

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