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Australia’s military to recruit foreigners as shortfall deepens

Australia’s military to recruit foreigners as shortfall deepens
A Japanese soldier from the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force is seen taking part in an urban assault on 30 June 2023 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Australia’s military is loosening recruitment criteria to enable non-citizens to join its ranks and help address a personnel shortfall in the defence forces.

The move, first announced in the National Defense Strategy released in April, will see the force ease eligibility requirements to allow permanent residents who’ve lived in Australia for 12 months to sign up, according to a statement on Tuesday. 

From July, New Zealanders who are living in Australia can apply to join the Australian Defence Force. From January 2025, so can permanent residents from the UK, US, Canada and Pacific nations.

“Reversing the defence recruitment shortfalls of the last government requires innovation – we’re being bold in order to grow the Australian Defence Force,” Matt Keogh, minister for defence personnel, said in the statement. 

The move comes as Australia upgrades its defence forces to try to counter China’s expanding military footprint in the Asia-Pacific region. A major government report into the state of the nation’s forces a year ago found the military was not “fit for purpose” in the current strategic environment. 

Typically in Australia, military recruitment struggles in times of a tight labour market. Unemployment currently sits at a very low 4.1%. 

As well as meeting entry standards and security requirements, permanent residents wishing to join the ADF must have lived in Australia for at least one year immediately prior to applying, not served in a foreign military in the preceding two years, and be able to attain Australian citizenship, the military said. 

The military is also streamlining the existing Overseas Lateral Recruitment Scheme, which allows the ADF to fill capability shortfalls by recruiting skilled military overseas applicants, the statement showed.

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