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Who we are and what we do

Mission

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is constituted under the Defence Act 1903, its mission is to defend Australia and its national interests. In fulfilling this mission, Defence serves the Government of the day and is accountable to the Commonwealth Parliament which represents the Australian people to efficiently and effectively carry out the Government's defence policy.

Role

The primary role of Defence is to defend Australia against armed attack.
Australia's defence policy is founded on the principle of self-reliance in the direct defence of Australia, but with a capacity to do more where there are shared interests with partners and allies.

Strategic Direction

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have announced that Defence will produce a new White Paper to be completed in 2015.

Defence White Papers are the Government's most important guidance about Australia's long-term defence capability. They provide an opportunity for the Government and community to understand the opportunities and challenges for Australia's future defence and security needs.

The 2015 Defence White Paper will align defence policy with military strategy and deliver an affordable Australian Defence Force structure. It will be a whole-of-government product that reflects the Government's overall strategic, national security, fiscal and broader policy priorities.

Following the release of the 2015 Defence White Paper, Defence will publish a 10-year Defence Capability Plan and a Defence Industry Policy Statement to provide defence industry with greater certainty about the Government's key priorities and timeframes.


Defence functions and powers

Where applicable, Ministers or authorised Defence employees may exercise decision-making powers under the legislation that is administered by the Minister aided by the department. The list of matters dealt with by the department and legislation administered by the Minister is prescribed in the Administrative Arrangements Order [PDF 5MB] .

Matters dealt with by the Department

Defence, including:

  • international defence relations and defence co-operation
  • defence scientific research and development
  • defence procurement and purchasing
  • defence industry development and co-operation

Legislation administered by the Minister

  • Air Force Act 1923
  • Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947
  • Cockatoo and Schnapper Islands Act 1949
  • Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement (Service Personnel) Act 1990
  • Control of Naval Waters Act 1918
  • Defence Act 1903, except to the extent administered by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General and paragraph 124(1)(QBA)
  • Defence Trade Controls Act 2012
  • Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
  • Defence Force (Home Loans Assistance) Act 1990
  • Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973
  • Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (Pension Increases) Acts
  • Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948
  • Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Acts
  • Defence Forces Special Retirement Benefits Act 1960
  • Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme Act 2008
  • Defence Housing Australia Act 1987
  • Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001
  • Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Act 1969
  • Defence (Road Transport Legislation Exemption) Act 2006
  • Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952
  • Explosives Act 1961
  • Geneva Conventions Act 1957, Part IV
  • Intelligence Services Act 2001, insofar as it relates to that part of the Department of Defence known as the Defence Intelligence and Geospatial Organisation, the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Defence Signals Directorate
  • Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004, Chapter 3, in relation to rehabilitation of serving members of the Australian Defence Force; and
    Chapter 6, in relation to treatment for and injuries and diseases of serving members of the Australian Defence Force
  • Military Superannuation and Benefits Act 1991
  • Naval Defence Act 1910
  • Royal Australian Air Force Veterans' Residences Act 1953
  • Services Trust Funds Act 1947
  • War Gratuity Act 1945
  • War Service Estates Act 1942
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995

Details of current Department of Defence administered policies, programs or projects can also be found in the Department's Annual Report.


Defence portfolio structure

The Defence portfolio consists of a number of component organisations that together are responsible for supporting the defence of Australia and its national interests. The two most significant bodies are:

  • the Department of Defence is a department of state, headed by the Secretary of the Department of Defence; and
  • the Australian Defence Force (ADF), commanded by the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF), consists of the three Services - the Royal Australian Navy, the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force (including Reserves). These Services are commanded by Service Chiefs. Each Service Chief also administers their respective Cadet service, although the Cadet service is not a component of the parent Service.

The portfolio also contains a number of smaller entities, including:

  • a number of statutory offices created by the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 which are independent but reside administratively within Defence. These include the Judge Advocate General, the Chief Judge Advocate, the Director of Military Prosecutions, and the Registrar of Military Justice;
  • the Inspector General of the ADF, an independent statutory office created by the Defence Act 1903, which resides administratively within Defence; and
Government Crest
The Minister for Defence's portfolio also contains the Department of Veterans' Affairs and its associated bodies, as it is designated as part of the Defence portfolio in the Administrative Arrangements Order. The Department of Veterans' Affairs is administered and reports separately from Defence.

Current Defence Ministers


Defence Organisation

Senior Leaders

Organisational structure chart

Organisational structure

Visit the Defence leaders site to view biographies and high resolution images of key Defence leaders and senior managers.

Groups and Services

Statutory appointments

In this table are the details of appointments of designated agency officers that are made under Acts of Parliament.
Name Appointment Term of appointment Relevant legislation
Mr Dennis Richardson Secretary of Defence 18 Oct 2012 - TBA Section 58 of the Public Service Act 1999
ACM M.D. Binskin Chief of the Defence Force 4 Jul 2014 Defence Act 1903
VADM R.J. Griggs Vice Chief of the Defence Force 4 Jul 2014 Defence Act 1903
VADM T. Barrett Chief of Navy 4 Jul 2014 Defence Act 1903
LTGEN A. Campbell Chief of Army 1 Jul 2015
Defence Act 1903
AM L.Davies Chief of Air Force 1 Jul 2015
Defence Act 1903
BRIG J.A. Woodward Director Military Prosecutions 1 Jul 2015 -
30 Jun 2020
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
MAJGEN I.D. Westwood Chief Judge Advocate 1 Oct 2007 -
30 Sep 2017
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
GPCAPT N.L Harvey Registrar of Military Justice 22 Sep 2014 -
22 Sep 2017
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
RADM the Hon. Justice M.J. Slattery Judge Advocate General 14 May 2015 -
29 Jul 2017
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
CDRE the Hon. Justice J.T. Rush Deputy Judge Advocate General - Navy 14 May 2015 -
29 Jul 2017
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
BRIG His Honour Judge S.G. Durward Deputy Judge Advocate General - Army 26 Jun 2014 -
9 Mar 2017
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
AIRCDRE the Hon. Judge M.J.F. Burnett Deputy Judge Advocate General - Air Force 26 Jun 2014 -
9 Mar 2017
Defence Force Discipline Act 1982
Mr G. Earley Inspector General - Australian Defence Force 22 Dec 2010 -
21 Dec 2015
Section 110G of the Defence Act 1903

Corporate Governance

Corporate Accountability

This section details Defence boards and committees and our corporate governance and management structure which streamline our decision making.

Defence Business Model

The Defence Governance framework is designed to ensure that the Department has clearly defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, as well as mechanisms, to manage and monitor progress and performance, and that Defence is accountable to the Government and legislation, with defined assurance and audit processes.

Defence Committees

Senior Management Committee System Structure

Defence has eight senior Defence Committees.

Defence Committee

The Defence Committee is the primary decision-making committee in the Department of Defence, supported by the subordinate Enterprise Business Committee and Investment Committee.

The Defence Committee is focused on the major capability and resource trade-offs and the shared accountability of the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force.

Chiefs of Service Committee

The Chiefs of Service Committee provides military advice to the CDF to assist him in commanding the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and providing military advice to the Government. The Chiefs of Service Committee is chaired by the CDF.

Strategic Command Group

The Strategic Command Group is the primary advisory forum to support the CDF's role as the commander of the ADF and principal military advisor to Government. The Strategic Command Group provides the CDF with situational awareness of ADF operations, coordination of the ADF strategic response to critical incidents and allows a secure forum for the CDF to issue direction and guidance.

Enterprise Business Committee

The Enterprise Business Committee is a subordinate committee of the Defence Committee, and is responsible for ensuring the effective running of Defence.

Its remit includes corporate planning, performance monitoring and reporting, enterprise risk management, information management and service delivery reform.

Investment Committee

The Investment Committee is a subordinate committee of the Defence Committee, focused on the future force and is responsible for bringing the future force and supporting enablers into being.

The Investment Committee reviews the investment portfolio for the estate, infrastructure and information and communication technology programmes, taking into account force requirements, all necessary enabling functions and full-life costs.

Until the new Capability life cycle is in place, the Defence Capability Investment Committee will continue to operate. In due course, the business of the Defence Capability Investment Committee will transfer to the Investment Committee.

Defence Capability and Investment Committee

The Defence Capability and Investment Committee reviews major capability and investment issues by seeking to ensure resourcing, including capital investment and operating costs, is consistent with Defence's strategic priorities and resourcing strategy. The Defence Capability and Investment Committee is chaired by the Secretary.

Defence Audit and Risk Committee

The Defence Audit and Risk Committee was established by the Secretary in accordance with Section 46 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. It provides independent advice to the Secretary and the CDF on all aspects of Defence governance, including audit, assurance, financial management and risk management issues. The Defence Capability and Investment Committee is chaired by an independent private sector businessman Mr Paul Rizzo.

Gender Equality Advisory Board

The Gender Equality Advisory Board is a new advisory board that has been established to drive and shape the strategic direction of the Secretary's and the CDF's gender equality priorities within the broader Defence cultural reform agenda. The Gender Equality Advisory Board considers the most significant gender equality issues applicable to the Defence workforce, and monitors and evaluates whole-of-Defence performance on these matters. The Gender Equality Advisory Board comprises of seven internal Defence members including the Secretary and CDF, four external members and one Special Advisor. The Gender Equality Advisory Board is chaired jointly by the Secretary and CDF.


Other Governance Structures

Internal auditing

Audit Branch provides independent and objective assurance to the Secretary and CDF, that financial and operational controls designed to manage the organisation's key risks and achieve Defence objectives are operating in an efficient, effective, economical and ethical manner. The Branch also assists Defence senior managers in accomplishing outcomes through the evaluation and improvement of Defence the business performance.

Chief of the Defence Force Commissions of Inquiry (CDF COI)

The CDF appoints a COI primarily to inquire into deaths of ADF members that appear to have arisen out of, or in the course of, their service. The CDF may also appoint a COI into any other matter concerning the Defence Force, although this would only occur for the most serious or complex matters. COIs are intended to provide the CDF with accurate information as a basis for internal decision-making.

Risk Management

Risk management is an essential element in the framework of good governance in Defence. In early 2012, a new enterprise risk system was implemented to ensure that Defence is systemically anticipating and managing material risks that threaten the whole of the Defence Organisation. This approach is also intended to foster a culture of cross-functional communication across Group and Service boundaries.

Each enterprise risk is assigned to a Defence Committee member who acts as the risk steward for that risk. The risk steward is expected to manage the risk and ensure that critical controls for each risk are identified, actively monitored and that their status is reported to the Defence Committee.

The Defence Committee has now identified seven key enterprise risks and has begun the process of identifying the main risk controls.

In addition to material enterprise risks, each Group and Services manages risks specific to the achievement of their assigned objectives. They continue to manage these risks utilising a tailored approach that best reflects the unique context in which each operates.


Defence Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Scheme

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (PID Act) provides all current and former public officials with a protected way to speak up about wrongdoing or maladministration in the Commonwealth public sector.  In accordance with this requirement, Defence has implemented the Defence PID Scheme which replaces the former Defence Whistleblower Scheme (DWS).


Defence values

Our employees conduct their duties in accordance with the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and the Australian Public Service Values. These are the foundation for our work and govern the way we relate to our stakeholders and to each other.

Without diminishing the existing single-Service and Australian Public Service (APS) values, or their use, specific Defence values have been established to provide a common and unifying thread for all people working in Defence. These values are:

Professionalism

striving for excellence in everything we do

Loyalty

commitment to each other and Defence

Integrity

doing what is right

Courage

the strength of character to honour our convictions (moral courage) and bravery in the face of personal harm (physical courage)

Innovation

actively looking for better ways of doing our business

Teamwork

working together with respect, trust and a sense of collective purpose.

Further details of Defence Values is available here [PDF-1MB].

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