Bernie Goldie

Physical standards for military service to be benchmarked

The University of Wollongong has been funded ($1.6 million over three years) to establish a National Centre of Excellence in Physical Employment Standards.

It will be known as the Centre for Human and Applied Physiology. It will be based within the School of Health Sciences but will have five researchers working at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO Melbourne).

In the first instance, the Centre will work collaboratively with DSTO to establish physical standards for the Combat Arms trades of the Army. However, it is expected that this work will also be extended into emergency service organisations, and eventually across a range of industries.

The Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, Mr Greg Combet, has announced the establishment of this Centre of Expertise to accurately evaluate the physical requirements of service in military occupations.

“The Centre of Expertise will assist the Australian Defence Force to develop objective benchmarks for physical employment assessments to ensure soldiers have physical capacity commensurate with the performance of critical tasks, regardless of trade classifications, rank, age, or gender,” Mr Combet said.

“The Centre will develop physical employment standards for the Army, with a view to later assessing requirements for the Air Force and Navy and will ensure that fitness-for-duty tests adequately represent the physical requirements of today’s military services.

“Physical Employment Standards allow soldiers’ physical capabilities to be assessed against the occupational requirements of their job, using a standardised set of test procedures.

“Adoption of Employment Standards will help guide recruits to occupations for which they are most physically suited and could also potentially facilitate access to occupations traditionally closed to particular groups on the basis of task physical readiness.

“They could also potentially contribute to significant savings for Defence as a result of lower health care and compensation costs by reducing trade-related injuries.”

Director of the Centre, Associate Professor Nigel Taylor, said UOW would provide academic input and also conduct supporting research at the University with several postgraduate scholarships to be announced later this month.