Australia opens military recruitment to foreign citizens, Canadians included
Australia opens military recruitment to foreign citizens, Canadians included

Canadians who’ve lived in Australia for at least one year can now apply to serve in the Australian military as part of a pilot project to expand the country’s armed forces.

The Australian Defence Force announced on Tuesday that it was opening its ranks to foreigners. 

Starting in July 2024, eligible New Zealanders can apply to join the Australian Defence Force. By January 2025, applications will open to permanent residents of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. The pilot program is currently restricted to these select Commonwealth nations. 

For applicants from abroad to be accepted, they need to meet the entry standards and security requirements of the Australian Defence Force, have lived in Australia for a minimum of one year immediately before applying, have not served in a foreign military in the last two years, and be applicable to receive Australian citizenship.

Australia’s Minister of Defence Personnel Matt Keogh said that the country was being bold in its recruitment strategy. 

“Recruiting from a wider pool of people will help ensure our Australian Defence Force reflects the full diversity of Australia and is able to draw on the talents of the entirety of Australian society,” he said.

The Australian Defence Force includes the country’s navy, army, and air force. 

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles emphasized that opening recruitment to New Zealanders would help strengthen the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’ bond, which formed in the First World War. 

“The Australian government has chosen to grow the Australian Defence Force because it is essential to meet the nation’s security challenges through the next decade and beyond,” said Marles.

Keogh told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Australia plans to recruit 350 people annually through the international route. He hopes this route will help bring the number of permanent Australian Defence Force members to 80,000 by 2040, which had 57,000 members last year.

Marles said that the goal cannot be met without international recruits. 

Canada has had recruitment shortfalls of its own, despite the Liberals’ plan to boost recruitment by lowering standards and promoting diversity over merit.

In 2022, only 5,242 Canadians enlisted in the Armed Forces, a decrease of 35% from 8,069 in 2021. 

The staggering decrease comes despite the announcement in late 2022 by the Minister of National Defence that permanent residents were welcome to apply and enroll in Canada’s military.

Between Nov. 1, 2022, and Nov. 24, 2023, 21,472 permanent residents applied to the Canadian Armed Forces. Only 77 were accepted. 

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