ASD says not all of Australia's 1,900 REDSPICE jobs will be for cyber

ASD director-general Rachel Noble said the new jobs will start being rolled out in financial year 2022-23.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Getty Images

The 1,900 new jobs promised in the federal government's new AU$ 9.9 billion cyber program will not solely be in the areas of cybersecurity and IT, Australian Signals Directorate chief Rachel Noble said yesterday afternoon.

"We will need cybersecurity specialists, data science scientists, engineers, linguists, analysts, ICT people, but also policy people, HR people, psychologists, security, compliance lawyers, and people who are experts in communications," Noble told Senate estimates.

In clarifying what jobs will be funded by the Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers (REDSPICE) program, she dismissed concerns put forth by experts that there may not be enough people to bolster Australia's cybersecurity, although she did not comment on whether the country's workforce contains enough people with those skillsets.

"We are positioned through REDSPICE to train, invest in, and develop those people. I would imagine that our efforts in that regard will greatly benefit the national security community writ large," she said.

Noble explained the ASD received 9,000 job applications last year and has 700 people that are set to be onboarded into the agency. She added that 600 new employees joined the ASD last year, which amounted to an overall growth of more than 330 new employees after accounting for staff turnover.

Speaking to when the REDSPICE jobs will be rolled out, Noble provided a year-on-year timeline, with the jobs under the program to start being offered from the 2022-23 financial year. For that first year, 400 new jobs will be created within ASD; for 2023-24, ASD will add 600 roles; 500 new roles will be added in 2024-25; 2025-26 will see 200 new jobs; 2026-27 will see another 130 jobs, after which the agency will start tapering its hiring spree.

As part of the hiring spree, Noble also said a significant number of those roles will be based in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth. Currently, most ASD roles are based in Canberra. To support that expansion, the agency plans to have new buildings in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth by financial year 2024-25.

During Noble's Senate estimates appearance, she also clarified how funding of the Defence Department's Integrated Investment Programs (IIP) has been impacted by the REDSPICE program as Defence officials confirmed on Friday that a AU$1.3 billion SkyGuardian drone project, which fell under the IIP program, was scrapped to fund the spicy cyber.

Defence officials also said on Friday that other IIP commitments to ASD projects were subsumed within REDSPICE.

Explaining the subsumption of those IIP-ASD projects into REDSPICE, Noble said none of those projects, three in total, were cancelled due to the new cyber program.

"None of them have been cancelled. What happened was there was already funding in the IIP for three ASD projects," Noble said.

"What has actually happened is that all of the capability that was sitting in those three programs remain funded but are being brought forward in time to be delivered sooner."

The three programs consist of one for building ASD's capability in signals intelligence mission systems, another for offensive cyber, and one is for components of the Cyber Enhanced Situational Awareness and Response (CESAR) program.

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