Defence Health

Defence Health has been selected as an Employer of Choice in The Australian Business Awards 2023. The Australian Business Award for Employer of Choice [EOC] recognises organisations that develop workplaces that maximise the full potential of their workforce through established policies and practices which demonstrate effective employee recruitment, engagement and retention.

Defence Health is a not-for-profit private health insurer and was one of the first insurers to begin operations when the National Health Act was passed in 1953. The fund was established to improve the health and wellbeing of the families of serving Australian Defence Force personnel and the Defence community.

Defence Health’s workforce of 278 people comprised 216 full-time staff, 45 part-timers, 9 casuals and 8 directors. Over half (60%) of employees are women, with managerial roles split evenly between men and women.

Defence Health has a clearly defined culture built around trust, respect, ownership, excellence and community. The strength of the culture and level of staff engagement is measured in quarterly and annual staff surveys. The 2022 annual survey measured overall engagement at 85%.

Staff are continually updated with industry and business information through a regular face-to-face briefing from the CEO and weekly all-staff communications. The briefings involve discussing strategic initiatives, financial and project updates, a welcome of new team members and recognition of high performers.

The skills required for every role in the company are mapped against a Competency Framework, and recruits are assessed against the framework, as well as their alignment with the company values. From their first day of employment, employees are set up for success. They undergo extensive training in the operation and regulation of private health insurance. They are supported by an experienced ‘buddy’ for their first interactions with the health fund’s members. Employees also have monthly one-on-one meetings with team leaders to support their development and wellbeing.

Performance is appraised fairly and consistently in a mid-year and annual review process. Salaries are benchmarked twice yearly, with employee salaries reviewed after the annual performance review. High performers are often recognised with a one-off bonus and potentially an increase to their ongoing salary.

Customer-facing staff are covered under the Banking, Finance & Insurance Award and a 2019 Enterprise Agreement. The agreement includes many above-award entitlements, including higher salary and leave allowances, topped-up maternity leave payments, and ongoing superannuation contributions for the duration of paid and unpaid maternity leave. Permanent staff are also eligible for employer-funded private health insurance.

After consultation with all staff, Defence Health has introduced new hybrid working arrangements. This gives employees the flexibility to combine face-to-face time in the office with the option to work from home. The expectation is that staff will attend the office at least twice weekly, with most learning and team collaboration scheduled to align with those days.

The Defence Health workforce is passionate about delivering high-quality service to its members. They have positive relationships with each other and their managers. And they are proud to recommend their employer to others.

For information about Defence Health, visit

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