Home' Army News : June 20th 2013 Contents Mr Phillip Nelson
Paddington NSW 2012
Ph: (02) 8335 5903
Fa x: (02) 8335 6506
Army June 20, 2013
IN REFERENCE to Army, April 11,
"Bar hours to change", what is the
real reason for reducing bar hours?
The reasoning that reducing bar
hours will address inefficiency and
wastage at the staffing level may well
be a valid point, however, the issue as
I see it is the actual consumption of
alcohol in messes.
From my perspective, senior offi-
cials in Canberra believe that Defence
has an issue with the consumption of
alcohol and this is but another con-
venient way of controlling our moral
The end effect of cutting staffing
hours is that it will force Defence per-
sonnel to either consume alcohol in
their rooms if they live on base (creat-
ing block monsters), or force person-
nel to go off base creating other issues.
I think it is about time our condi-
tions of service cease to be attrited and
we are treated as adults, and if we have
an issue with alcohol, then we get the
help we need or take responsibility for
When you look at the wider issue
of alcohol-related problems within
the community I would say Defence
makes up a very small percentage of
Are the inefficiencies, wastage and
loss of another condition of service
now imposed upon me taken into con-
Sgt Geoff Reeves
1 Armd Regt
Lt-Cols Glen Braithwaite and Peter
Conroy, of Army HQ, respond:
THANK you for your letter to the
editor. You raised a number of issues
ranging from the reasoning behind the
bar reductions through to the wider
issue of conditions of service.
To answer your first question it is
necessary to understand the history
behind bar reforms.
In 2009, following a review into
reform opportunities in Defence, the
Strategic Reform Program set a target
of 30 per cent reductions in the cost of
Throughout 2010-11, service rep-
resentatives considered the impact and
reviewed available data on bar hours,
usage and costs. Many bars operated in
the evenings and on weekends regard-
less of minimal patronage.
The services determined that an
average of 22 bar hours per week was
sufficient to meet the demand and
achieve savings, while still provid-
ing an adequate level of amenity to
Concurrently, a review of
Defence's policies and practices relat-
ing to alcohol was undertaken, culmi-
nating in August 2011 with the report
by Professor Margaret Hamilton titled
The Use of Alcohol in the ADF.
This report highlighted that an
effective measure in reducing alco-
hol-related harm included addressing
the supply and availability of alcohol.
Reducing bar hours and aligning alco-
hol prices with community prices were
Budget reforms only one reason for change
seen as viable options, provided they
were part of wider policies and strate-
gies. Changes to alcohol prices will
occur later in 2013.
Your concern about the effect of
bar reforms on serving members,
including changes to drinking hab-
its and locations, and the perception
of reduced conditions of service is
Army intends to closely monitor
these issues over the coming years.
Every year incidents occur as a
result of unacceptable behaviour asso-
ciated with alcohol misuse. Army is
anticipating positive changes to behav-
iour under the bar reforms.
Where there is a risk of negative
behaviour stemming from consump-
tion of alcohol in living-in accommo-
dation, or potential adverse effects off-
base, Army will seek to address these
through other initiatives under the
ADF Alcohol Management Strategy.
Although bar hour reductions com-
menced as an efficiency initiative, they
are now firmly embedded in the wider
Defence strategy to minimise alcohol-
These changes are necessary to
ensure the Defence budget continues
to be directed to areas of greatest need,
while addressing cultural reforms that
reinforce Army's force preservation
For more information on garrison issues con-
tact Lt-Col Braithwaite. To discuss the Alcohol
Management Strategy contact Lt-Col Conroy.
Closing time: Reductions to the operating hours of many Defence bars have come into effect to both reduce
budget inefficiencies and as part of the ADF's alcohol management strategy.
Photo by WO2 Andrew Hetherington
'Digger' belongs to us all
WITH 2015 coming and the 100th
anniversary of the Anzac Gallipoli
landings, I suggest that the Army
consider abolishing the rank of pri-
vate and replacing it formally with
the rank of digger.
This would be a fitting tribute to
the Anzac legend and further bond
the link between the diggers of today
and the past.
Just a thought. While the term
has dropped off a little today, it was
quite common to be called a "dig-
1980s/1990s and before.
It's time we brought it back into
use on a daily basis, remember our
customs and traditions, and remind
our youngest and newest soldiers of
who they are and where they came
Sgt Antony Buckingham
RSM-A WO Dave Ashley responds:
THANKS Antony -- we have known
each other for a long time and you
have provided a lot of good input
over the years.
I can see your position, but I
think the term "digger", which is a
great term of endearment for Army's
people, applies to us all.
I am proud to be a warrant officer
and equally as proud to be a digger.
I bet you, as a senior NCO, don't
mind being referred to as digger by
a member of the public and I don't
think even the CA would mind!
Our private soldiers are awesome
-- you and I were privates once, but
"digger" refers to us all.
I speak to many groups, in and
out of Army, and I don't agree that
the term "digger" has reduced at all.
It is as supportive and reflective of
society's warmth for us today as at
any time in my memory.
It is important that we all behave
and act in a way that continues to
warrant this respect and warmth --
and I know that you do.
A great strength of our Army is
our egalitarianism. To me this speaks
to mutual respect between ranks.
I think having us all termed "dig-
ger" as a generic term for all of
Army's men and women, not just
formally linked to our private sol-
diers, best reflects us as the great
national institution Army is.
What do you think? Should the rank
of private be formally changed to digger?
Send your letters to
Heritage: The term "digger" has referred to Australian soldiers of all
ranks since the Anzac landings at Gallipoli. Should it replace private
as the official starting rank for enlisted personnel?
Photo provided by the Australian War Memorial
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