2023 Aged Care Workforce Report Available Now

Defence Force to Work with Residential Aged Care Homes – The Facts So Far


On 7 February 2022, the Commonwealth Government announced that up to 1,700 Australian Defence Force personnel will be deployed to support staff in the aged care sector. Full details of the plan are yet to emerge but here’s what we know so far.


Status of the Deployment at 15 February 2022

As at 15 February 2022, we are in the training phase. According to the Department of Defence, “Around 200 ADF [Australian Defence Force] personnel are currently completing induction training in Brisbane, Adelaide and virtually in preparation for the surge in support.”


How Many Personnel Will be Deployed?

Up to 200 personnel in each state and territory, or up to 1,700 personnel if required.


What Kinds of Support Will the ADF Offer?

Although there is some inconsistent terminology, it seems that two kinds of teams will be deployed:

  • Clinical Support Teams
  • Additional Support Teams for “General Support”.


Clinical Support Teams

According to the Department of Health, the Clinical Support Teams “will comprise nurses and general support staff and complement the current Aspen Medical Standing Teams.” (The Aspen Medical Standing Teams were established in early 2020 to support the aged care industry in the event of staff losses during the pandemic).

The Department of Defence says, “we will also create our own 10-person standing force teams … These teams will include team leaders, registered and enrolled nurses, and supporting personnel. The Department of Health will decide where to place the teams.”

The “Clinical Support Teams” and the ADF’s “Standing Force Teams” appear to be the same thing, but this is not completely clear.


Additional Support Teams for “General Support”

According to the Department of Health, the Additional Support Teams will assist with “general duties tasks” such as logistics and “screening of entrants to facilities, providing companionship to residents, supporting with meals and other non-direct care functions to take the pressure off qualified aged care workers and medical staff.”


When and Where Will the Teams be Deployed?

Clinical Support Teams

  • Four Clinical Support Teams to be deployed in the week ending Sunday 13 February 2022.
  • A further six Clinical Support Teams to be deployed from the following week.
  • These teams will initially support aged-care facilities in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales, with other states to follow.
  • The Department of Health will decide which individual aged care homes receive support from a Clinical Support Team. There is some suggestion that facilities experiencing outbreaks will be prioritised, with the Department of Health saying, “The Australian Defence Force teams will supplement existing Commonwealth workforce surge measures to ensure more support is available to facilities experiencing outbreaks.”  


Additional Support Teams for “General Support”

  • Up to 50 personnel to be available in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia from 9 February 2022.
  • The ADF is ready to expand this commitment to up to 200 personnel in each state and territory, or up to 1,700 personnel if required.
  • The Department of Health will decide which individual aged care homes receive support from an Additional Support Team. Deployment will be determined “as part of existing case management and workforce support for RACFs experiencing outbreaks.”


More Information


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About the Author

Mark Bryan

Mark is a Legal Content Consultant at Ideagen CompliSpace and the editor for Aged Care Essentials (ACE). Mark has worked as a Legal Policy Officer for the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and the NSW Department of Justice. He also spent three years as lead editor for the private sessions narratives team at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts/Law from the Australian National University with First Class Honours in Law, a Graduate Diploma in Writing from UTS and a Graduate Certificate in Film Directing from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

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