A varied and rewarding career
When Caroline Chalker Bradford started her career in Defence in 1999, she could not have imagined the challenging and rewarding opportunities she would experience in the years to follow. From an entry-level job in the Australian Public Service, she has graduated to senior roles that have given her a deep appreciation of this department.
In 2004, Caroline was appointed Strategic Communication Adviser to the then Chief of Air Force, Angus Houston. It was in that role that her appreciation for the military really began. Caroline took the time to learn more about her forebears: those who had fought and died during World War I at Pozières and Villers-Bretonneux; her great-uncle, who was killed when HMAS Perth was torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942 and posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Medal; and both her grandfathers, World War II veterans—one who served on HMAS Swan, and the other with RAF Bomber Command.
Among many other experiences, Caroline’s time in Air Force headquarters exposed her to the critical and complex role that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) plays in responding to humanitarian crises; to give just one example, she took part in the initial planning in the days following the 2005 Sumatra earthquake and tsunami.
In 2007, Caroline was selected to attend the Australian Command and Staff College. There, she built on her understanding of the ADF through syndicate participation and studies that related directly to Defence strategy, operational planning, management and leadership.
Caroline then took on the role of Director Strategic Communication for the 2009 Defence White Paper. This brought her into contact with strategy development at the highest levels and offered tremendous insight into the formulation of whole-of-Defence, and indeed whole-of-government, policy as it relates to the ADF.
Seizing the opportunity to broaden her skills and experience, Caroline then moved away from her comfort zone and took up a role within Strategic Policy Division in counter-terrorism and domestic security. This proved to be very rewarding and she learned a great deal from the experience before returning to the public affairs domain as Director Media Operations from 2010 to 2012.
Today, Caroline is back in Strategic Policy Division in a part-time role as Director Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office, where she has the chance to once again work with some of her former Air Force colleagues. Caroline continues to enjoy the new and varied experiences that come from a job in Defence.
Caroline’s husband also works in Defence and they have a two-year-old daughter.