Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Launch of ADF Gap Year program.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Media contacts Nigel Blunden (Dr Nelson) 02 6277 7800 0407 632 931

Defence Media Liaison 02 6265 3343 0408 498 664


Minister for Defence

Thursday, 9 August, 2007

Launch of ADF Gap Year program

E&EO ………………………………………………………………………………….

Prime Minister, firstly, thank you for your very early and very strong and enthusiastic support for the gap year initiative.

As was the support of Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the CDF, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, Chief of Navy, Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd, Chief of Air Force, and Major General John Cantwell here today, Brigadier Krause, to all of you, members of the Australian Defence Force family, including the cadets of whom we are very proud.

Today is a very important milestone in changing the shape of our recruiting process and the Government's investment in providing skills, training, discipline, the foundations for future character and life and employment prospects by the implementation of the gap year, as the Prime Minister has announced.

We've got about 34,000 young Australians, who, having completed year 12, go off to do a gap year of one sort or another. And it can be anything from pulling beers to coaching rugby teams in other countries or working as nannies or backpacking. All of the things that are to be encouraged in every sense of the word.

But we know that there are a number of young people who are disposed to joining one of our three services, who baulk at the initial service period, that we think would be interested in signing up for a year to actually have the experience of undergoing the same training and experiences as any other first year recruit. We know that many

of those having completed that first year, the gap year - we know that many will go off and spend their lives doing something else. But having had the experience of wearing the uniform and all of the benefits of military training, and their families and their friends and networks having also been touched by the experience of the military service, we also know that there are a number who will do the gap year who will come back into reserves and a number who perhaps to their own surprise will say, hey, I really love this, and I want to go on with it.

What we're also proposing to do is to offer some incentives, up to $10,000 for example, for those who do the gap year, who then go off and complete uni or TAFE or some other kind of qualification, who then might come back within five years.

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is, “Brendan, why don't we bring back national service?”. Now, the Government is not going to bring back national service unless there was some clear and present danger to our own country. But the gap year is a kind of voluntary national service. It gives young Australians the opportunity to voluntarily sign up to have these experiences and receive all of the same pay and conditions as any other first year recruit.

The other thing that's important, as an employer myself particularly in a former life, and for employers, when you're looking to employ somebody, one of the reasons we've got challenges in retaining our people in defence, which is the other thing we're working so hard on, is because anybody that's had a military experience and worn the uniform is highly regarded by employers. We know that the gap year will be a significant and beneficial addition to the curriculum vitae of any young Australian who subsequently might go on to do something else.

To also reinforce what the Prime Minister said, I say this as a parent of two 20 year olds and a 15 year old, and I say to the parents of Australia, as the Minister who lives and breathes defence every day, that I would be enormously proud of any one or all of

my own children, whether they go through the gap year or join as reservists or join the regular Navy, Army and Air Force, because if you think about it, there isn't any group of Australians that has done more to shape our identity and our values and our beliefs than those of you who were the uniform today and those earlier generations who have worn it.

All of us want to make a difference to our country and to our world. There is no more effective way than doing it than joining one of our three services.

So on that note, I formally - we're going to announce - launch our ads. So we have advertisements which commence today for the gap year and we'll be taking enrolments - enlistments if you like, from November for Army and January through

February for Navy and Air Force. Next year, 500 Army and 100 Navy and 100 Air Force next year. And the following year 250 Navy and 250 Air Force.

So on that note, I formally launch the advertisement.

For a free subscription to Defence Direct, the Minister for Defence's monthly e-newsletter, please follow this link: