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Defence to offer motorbike safety training to manage capability risk

The Department of Defence is keen to invest in motorbike safety lessons for uniformed personnel and public servants, because it recognises that dangerous lifestyle choices outside of work are a risk to organisational capability that can be managed fairly easily and cheaply.

The reasoning makes sense and also suggests very big organisations might find a whole world of new risks to manage if they go looking at other popular yet dangerous activities — rock fishing, perhaps — that their employees indulge in on their own time.

Over 6000 Defence personnel ride motorcycles, both for fun and to get to work, according to a survey quoted in new tender documents that also allowed the department to break down the numbers it expects to take up the free training in various locations.

The high statistical chance of death or serious injury — part of the appeal for a lot of two-wheeled road warriors — has been weighed and measured in terms of the impact it has on Australia’s military and the vast bureaucracy that supports it:

“The regular use of motorcycles by Defence personnel for both pleasure and a means of daily commuting is well recognised by Defence.

“… Fatal and non-fatal accidents across Defence cause significant loss of capability and consequential direct and indirect costs including medical fees, compensation claims, and lost investment in training and productivity.”

The progressive rider safety program will aim to “improve awareness, skills and attitude” as well as the ability to negotiate dangerous road and weather conditions.

Defence wants to offer a basic level that sounds much like the mandatory courses required to obtain motorcycle licenses in some states and territories, and a more advanced course “with a focus on improved cornering and braking and defensive riding” techniques.

Staff will be allowed to take one course every five years, unless they are especially clumsy or at higher risk of crashing for some other reason:

“It is envisaged that Defence personnel can nominally complete one course every five years. However Defence recognises that additional training may be deemed appropriate for some, based on a skills assessment or other influencing factors, for those considered at greater risk, and where space exists on provided courses.”

Not just a way to get to work, but a good cause too

Defence personnel can be seen regularly in motorcycle cruises such as the Snowy Ride, raising money for charitable organisations. A group of 40 motorcyclists who participated in last year’s Long Ride charity event under the Australian Defence Force banner raised an impressive $141,584.11 for prostate cancer research and the ADF is also one of the event’s major sponsors.

The Australian Defence Force Academy also has a motorcycle club, one of its voluntary and extra curricular clubs, which has organised safety courses in the past (and is the source of the image above).

Author Bio

Stephen Easton

Stephen Easton is the associate editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.