The history of reserve service in Australia can trace its history back to 1800
when Governor Hunter of the Colony of New South Wales appointed Officers and formed the Loyal Sydney and Parramatta Associations each with 50 rank and file.
The Reserves, Australia's part time Defence Forces, are an integral part of the total Australian Defence Force (ADF). They have specific roles in defending our country in conflicts arising at short notice, as individuals and as units.
The Naval Reserve is employed in everyday core activities both ashore and at sea, and is used to supplement the permanent Navy in times of conflict.
The Army Reserve has specific roles in the defence of Australia. They mostly parade one evening a week and a weekend a month. They also must complete 14 days of continuous training each year.
The Air Force Reserve provides trained personnel for operations and support activities. Reservists may serve in a permanent Air Force Unit during a contingency or in one of the Reserve units on a part-time basis.
The Reserves make up 40 per cent of the uniformed strength of the ADF. They provide most of the Defence Lawyers, specialist surgeons, the basis of Australia's naval control of shipping capability and, the Regional Force Surveillance Units. Regional Force Surveillance Units draw on the specialist skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reserve members in the "Top End" of the country.
Active Reserve units make up more than half of the Army's combat forces. The readiness of forces such as the Commandos is similar to that of permanent Army units.
Because of increased training and skills development, Reservists can move more easily to full-time service.
The Reserves can be called out for full-time service at times other than declared war or defence emergency but only after proclamation by the Governor General. The reason for the call-out must be reported to both Houses of Parliament. A number of call-outs may be proclaimed but each must be justified every 90 days. Reservists are bound to serve for a period directed by the Service Chief, but are to be released as soon as practical after 12 months service. Once released a Reservist can not be required to serve again until a period of time equal to the period they have already served has passed.
In periods of declared war or defence emergency, all Reservists may be bound to serve indefinitely. Serving in peacetime operations is strictly on a volunteer basis.