Through the Australian Defence Force Gap Year program and the preceding Ready Reserve scheme, Australian school-leavers have had the opportunity to experience full-time military training without the obligations of longer-term initial periods of service. This paper analyses these programs, assessing their respective characteristics, identifying both supporters and detractors, and highlighting various challenges.
During the 2013 federal election campaign, the Coalition’s Policy for Stronger Defence contained a pledge to re‑build the ADF Gap Year program. In advocating this initiative, the Coalition argued that the ADF Gap Year ‘has been an effective community engagement and recruitment tool’ and has ‘proven successful in attracting more women to join the ADF and in bolstering the Army Reserve generally’.
Subsequently on 28 April 2014, Assistant Minister for Defence, Stuart Robert, officially launched a reinstated version of the ADF Gap Year program to commence in early 2015. Although the ADF Gap Year was a Howard (Coalition) Government initiative, the concept of giving Australian school-leavers the opportunity for 12 months full-time training in the ADF dates back to the early 1990s, when the Australian Labor Party (ALP) enacted the Ready Reserve scheme. This Research Paper will analyse both the Ready Reserve scheme and subsequent Gap Year program; assessing their respective characteristics, identifying both supporters and detractors, and highlighting various challenges.