Throughout 2019–20 Defence continued to deliver and administer several youth development and engagement activities. Foremost among these is the Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADF Cadets) program.
ADF Cadets is a personal development program for young people, supported by the ADF in cooperation with the community. The program benefits the nation by developing the capacity of young Australians to contribute to society.
ADF Cadets comprises three Cadet organisations, which are aligned to and administered by the respective Services. ADF Cadets Headquarters is a separate organisation, which is tasked with the development and governance of common elements of the ADF Cadet program.
Approximately 28,400 Cadets are currently enrolled in the three Cadet programs; 4,200 officers and instructors of Cadets and ‘approved helpers’ supervise and support the young people in the programs; and there are 577 ADF Cadet units across all states and territories.
The One Cadet reform program was initiated in October 2016. The program standardises the governance and administration of common elements of the three Services’ Cadet programs, with an emphasis on youth safety, training coordination, communications and enterprise support.
Requirement 3 of the Commonwealth Child Safety Framework directs implementation of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Collectively these requirements and principles align closely to the elements of a safety management system. Hence, youth safety in Defence will be managed within the Defence Work Health and Management System framework as a specialist safety domain. In line with this approach, Defence youth protection policies have been revised.
As part of Defence’s commitment to youth safety, during 2019–20 we embarked on evaluating the Defence Youth Safety Framework within the ADF Cadets. The ADF Cadets Survey (Part A—Youth) was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of the Defence Youth Safety Framework in shaping the youth safety culture of ADF Cadets. The second phase of the evaluation, Part B—Adults, has commenced. It consists of a questionnaire for ADF Cadets adult volunteers and the parents/guardians of ADF Cadets, and interviews of adult leaders across the program. Part B of the evaluation will ascertain adult understanding of youth safety, and the perception of youth safety in the ADF Cadets program. The combined results of Part A and Part B will provide Defence with a holistic view of ADF Cadet youth safety.
Australian Navy Cadets
Throughout 2019–20 the Australian Navy Cadets progressed a range of initiatives. These included a revision of Australian Navy Cadet Instructor training packages; ongoing replacements for watercraft including new power boats and sail craft; improvements to facilities; replacement of sailing helmets and life jackets and increased participation in major facilities and infrastructure redevelopment projects.
The summer bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions forced the suspension of Australian Navy Cadets parades and weekend camps. When COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, Cadets will return to routine activities. Throughout the suspension, Cadets continued to be engaged by participating in regular ‘virtual parades’ using teleconferencing technology. Planning is underway to resume annual camps, weekend activities, sailing regattas and national shooting competitions.
Four Maritime Training Centres are being established across Australia. The Maritime Training Centres will standardise sail training and provide Cadets with exciting and hands-on maritime experiences. The Training Centres will also provide greater access for Cadets to participate in the Australian Navy Cadets sail training program and improve the capacity to host sail training camps using clusters of new, world-class sail training vessels. The Australian Navy Cadets Directorate is also working closely with Navy Fleet Support Units to yield mutual benefits in watercraft maintenance and repairs.
In 2019, Cadets participated in sea familiarisation training using opportunities to sea-ride in Navy ships and in Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour. In January 2020 the Australian Maritime College in Launceston provided 18 Cadets with an excellent vocational insight to careers in the maritime industry, using simulation and modelling technology and training vessels.
The Australian Navy Cadets has 2,193 Cadets. Of these, 733 (27 per cent) are female and 79 (3.6 per cent) are Indigenous.
Australian Army Cadets
The Australian Army Cadets experienced a disrupted year in 2019–20 with bushfires in eastern Australia impacting planned field activities over the December–January period. COVID-19 then caused the cessation of all face-to-face activities from March-June. However, the COVID-19 shutdown did present a number of opportunities for innovation: Cadets and volunteer leaders ran effective training activities, including courses of approximately 300 Cadets online, as well as online parading and maintaining contact through social media links.
COVID-19 also provided the opportunity to consolidate the transformation program. This meant there was no loss of momentum, with transformation remaining on track. Initiatives that have been successfully implemented include further professionalisation and distributed learning elements of the Adult Leader Development Continuum to better equip adult volunteers for their roles; and modernisation of the Cadet Development Continuum with the introduction of cyber and unmanned aerial vehicle electives. COVID-19 probably prevented the achievement of growth targets; however, the number of volunteers in the program grew slightly to 1,242 (1,165 last year), and Cadet numbers increased to 17,662 (17,130 last year). The proportion of female Cadets has risen to 23 per cent (22 per cent last year), and Indigenous Cadet numbers have remained consistent at 3 per cent of the Cadet population.
Australian Air Force Cadets
During 2019–20 the Royal Australian Air Force accepted into service all eight Diamond DA-40NG aircraft, which included the training of aircrew instructors and rollout of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority licensed Elementary Training Flying School at Point Cook, Richmond and Amberley RAAF Bases. This greatly expands the capacity of the Australian Air Force Cadets to provide high-quality, safe flying experiences and training up to solo standard in a modern aviation platform. To further enhance and modernise aerospace teaching and understanding, contracted services have provided STEM education packages—replacing the previous outdated Cadet curriculum—which include mass distribution of micro-drones to all units and Cadets in the Air Force Cadets.
The Strategic Leadership Group, which includes Air Force Cadets and Air Force senior officer representation, was formed to map a clear strategic pathway for the future development of the Air Force Cadets over a 10-year rolling program.
This financial year saw growth in adult uniform volunteer numbers (from 1,143 to 1,211) and very good growth in Cadet numbers (from 7,525 to 8,563—a 13 per cent increase). The proportion of female Cadets is 25 per cent.