Doors open wider to enlisted personnel

Department of Defence

Senior enlisted sailors, soldiers and aviators now have more opportunities than ever to study abroad, experience new cultures and build professional networks while working alongside NATO partners and Five Eyes nations.

Through collaborative efforts, enlisted personnel are now alumni of the National Defence University (Keystone) in the US, the Baltic Defence College and Swiss Armed Forces College.

According to the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of Defence Force (SEAC) Warrant Officer Ken Robertson, he was empowered to help facilitate more overseas military education and training opportunities for enlisted personnel, which in turn can open up more opportunities for them within Defence.

Recently, Sergeant Christopher Grylls from Headquarters Joint Operations Command returned from Hawaii after participating in a subject-matter-expert exchange at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

“He’s gone on and contributed to strategic level discussions about the operational environment in the Indo-Pacific and taken seriously,” Warrant Officer Robertson said.

“It’s all about empowering and developing the non-commissioned officer workforce with opportunities that weren’t previously there.”

Individuals are selected on merit through selection boards facilitated by service warrant officers and the Regimental Sergeant Major-Army.

‘It’s all about empowering and developing the non-commissioned officer workforce with opportunities that weren’t previously there.’

These initiatives stemmed from desires expressed by the workforce during SEAC’s visits to Defence establishments, a core function of his role.

“I’m having conversations with enlisted personnel from across the organisation and then having a conversation with CDF (Chief of Defence Force) later that day on the same topic. That is powerful,” Warrant Officer Robertson said.

For example, Warrant Officer Robertson found during his visits that the delivery of the National Emergency Medal for Bushfire Assist was taking some time, with Defence being the last organisation to be recognised for it.

Raising the issue directly with the CDF then expedited the process, and those medals are now being processed and delivered to eligible personnel to show appreciation for their service.

Similarly, and with the support of the service warrant officers and Regimental Sergeant Major-Army (RSM-A), SEAC gathered perspectives on suicide prevention and perceived risk factors in the ADF from sailors, soldiers and aviators, providing candid feedback to the service chiefs to prepare for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

The Royal Commission is an opportunity to learn and understand how to reduce the risk of suicide, and strengthen the ADF’s approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Further, Warrant Officer Robertson said he was committed to ensuring that the highest levels of command hear the voices of enlisted personnel.

“If the workforce remembers one thing from my visits, it’s that they have an enduring senior enlisted voice within the office of CDF,” Warrant Officer Robertson said.

“I’m working collaboratively with the service warrant officers and RSM-A to have their issues and concerns raised directly with CDF and ADF senior leaders.”

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