The Australian Defence Force plans to double the number of Indigenous military personnel by 2025 as part of its latest Reconciliation Action Plan.

The Department of Defence will also engage with Indigenous traditional owners to commission dual names for all its major bases and establishments.

They're two of 61 deliverables contained in the fourth iteration of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan (D-RAP), which focuses on cultural, recruitment, retainment and procurement measures.

Private Maliek Poipoi, from the 51st Far North Queensland Regiment, at the launch of the 2019-2022 Defence Reconciliation Action Plan at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Photo: Lauren Larking

The D-RAP 2019-2022 was launched at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra with senior military leaders, public servants and Indigenous members.

"I'm absolutely committed to its direction, to the recommendations, to everything to drive forward this important work," the Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell said.

"We see across a wide range of initiatives efforts to bring in to service, and retain in service, within the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, Indigenous Australians.

"In service, you can't see any difference; they're sailors, they're soldiers, they're airmen and airwomen. They're doing a magnificent job and I want more of them.

"I want five per cent of this defence force to be Indigenous Australians, bringing their heritage, their diversity, bringing insights, bringing perspectives we cannot otherwise realise."

(l-r) Private Maliek Poipoi and Private Bongie Bowie, from the 51st Far North Queensland Regiment, with the Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell at the launch of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan. Photo: Lauren Larking

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have played, and continue to play, a significant role in enhancing Defence’s capability.

Its first Reconciliation Action Plan was launched in 2007. Since then, Defence has implemented a number of initiatives to increase employment and business procurement opportunities for Indigenous Australians.

The latest D-RAP outlines the strategic and measurable targets for Defence over the next four years, and demonstrates Defence’s ongoing commitment to the Closing the Gap strategy. While Defence acknowledges there has been progress in reconciliation, there is still more work to be done. Its D-RAP commitments will enhance its contribution to closing the gap.

Major deliverables include:

  • increase the Defence Australian Public Service Indigenous participation rate to 3 per cent by 2022
  • increase the Australian Defence Force Indigenous participation rate to 5 per cent by 2025
  • by 2021, award at least 3 per cent of Defence’s contracts to Indigenous enterprises to meet the portfolio target set out in the Indigenous Procurement Policy
  • identify and record sites and objects of cultural significance on Defence estates

Secretary of Defence Greg Moriarty at the launch of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Photo: Lauren Larking

The D-RAP will focus on increasing Defence’s cultural capability and work towards cultivating cultural intelligence across the organisation. The department will continue to increase its understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural issues, and it will embed cultural awareness into its daily business operations to create a more inclusive workforce.

"We've been able to deliver a strategic roadmap to continue our reconciliation journey in a way that innovates and, most importantly, is meaningful to the Indigenous personnel and businesses that Defence engages with," the Secretary of Defence, Greg Moriarty, said at the launch.

Mr Moriarty said Defence's Indigenous procurement strategy was proof the department's success engaging with Indigenous Australia.

"Defence has awarded over one billion dollars in contract value to Indigenous-owned businesses," he said.

"We were recognised by Supply Nation as the 2017 and 2019 government member of the year and we're very proud of that."

Following the theme for this year’s National Reconciliation Week, ‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage’, Defence will foster genuine and meaningful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, and strive to improve retention and career development opportunities for Indigenous personnel.

All Defence personnel are accountable for integrating this plan into daily business operations to ensure Defence is inclusive, culturally safe and reflects the community it represents.

The D-RAP was developed by Defence’s Directorate of Indigenous Affairs in partnership with its Indigenous cultural adviser Norman Laing and Indigenous champion Steve Grzeskowiak.

You can download a copy of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2022 at defence.gov.au/APSCareers/Indigenous/DRAP.asp

Enquiries: indigenous.affairs [at] defence.gov.au (subject: Enquiry)