On this page:
- Who we are and what we do
- Defence functions and powers
- Defence portfolio structure
- Defence Ministers
- Defence organisation
- Governance and accountability
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.
Defence’s primary focus is to protect and advance Australia’s strategic interests by providing military forces and supporting those forces in the defence of Australia and its strategic interests. To achieve this, Defence prepares for and conducts military operations and other tasks as directed by the Government.
In May 2012, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence announced that the Government has commissioned a new Defence White Paper to be delivered in the first half of 2013. This new White Paper will take account of Australia’s emerging strategic and fiscal environment. The White Paper will also adjust as appropriate the reform programs underway. The department has commenced early scoping work on this new White Paper.
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 (AAO).
- international defence relations and defence co-operation
- defence scientific research and development
- defence procurement and purchasing
- defence industry development and co-operation
- 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 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 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
- Williamstown Dockyard Employees Act 1987
Details of current Department of Defence administered policies, programs or projects can also be found in the Department’s Annual Report.
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 three most significant bodies are:
- the Department of Defence is a department of state, headed by the Secretary of the Department of Defence
- the ADF, which consists of the three Services, Navy, Army and the Air Force (including Reserves) commanded by the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF). Each Service Chief also administers their respective Cadet service, although the Cadet service is not a component of the parent Service
- the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), a prescribed agency within the Department of Defence, headed by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) DMO.
In practice, these bodies work together closely and are broadly regarded as one organisation known simply as Defence (or the Australian Defence Organisation).
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, the Registrar of Military Justice and the Inspector General of the ADF.
- various trusts and companies:
- Defence Housing Australia
- Army and Air Force Canteen Service (Frontline Defence Services)
- Royal Australian Navy Central Canteen Service Board of Management
- Trustees of the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund
- Australian Strategic Policy Institute Ltd
- Trustees of the Royal Australian Air Force Veterans' Residences Trust Fund
- Trustees of the Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Trust Fund
- Trustees of the Royal Australian Navy Relief Trust Fund
- Special Air Services Trust Fund
- Army Amenities Fund Company
- Royal Australian Air Force Welfare Recreation Company
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 separately from Defence.
This section details Defence boards and committees and our corporate governance and management structure which streamline our decision making.
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.
Senior Management Committee System Structure
Defence has seven senior Defence Committees, each of which plays an important role in the effective governance of Defence. All senior Defence committees have an advisory role with the chair exercising executive authority.
Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force Advisory Committee (SCAC)
The SCAC is the pre-eminent Defence Committee for the week-to-week management of the Department of Defence. The SCAC is the default Committee for business that requires the attention of the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF). The SCAC supersedes the weekly Defence Committee meeting and has superseded and subsumed the roles of the Workforce and Financial Management Committee and the Defence Information and Communications Technology Committee. The SCAC is chaired jointly by the Secretary and CDF.
Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force Advisory Committee (SCAC) / Defence Committee (DC)
The SCAC/DC is the pre-eminent Defence Committee that will continue to meet on a monthly basis. It considers the most significant Defence enterprise policy and management issues and drives the whole-of-Defence performance through the enterprise management framework, including the corporate planning process. The SCAC/DC is chaired jointly by the Secretary and CDF.
Defence Capability and Investment Committee (DCIC)
The DCIC 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 DCIC is chaired by the Secretary.
Defence Audit and Risk Committee (DARC)
The DARC 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 DARC is chaired by an independent private sector businessman Mr Paul Rizzo.
Gender Equality Advisory Board (GEAB)
The GEAB 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 GEAB considers the most significant gender equality issues applicable to the Defence workforce, and monitors and evaluates whole-of-Defence performance on these matters. The GEAB comprises of seven internal Defence members including the Secretary and CDF, four external members and one Special Advisor. The GEAB is chaired jointly by the Secretary and CDF.
Chiefs of Service Committee (COSC)
The COSC provides military advice to the CDF to assist him in commanding the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and providing military advice to the Government. The COSC is chaired by the CDF.
Strategic Command Group (SCG)
The SCG is the primary advisory forum to support the CDF's role as the commander of the ADF and principal military advisor to Government. The SCG 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.
Defence Strategic Advisory Board (DSRAB)
The DSRAB was established by the Minister for Defence to provide external scrutiny of the Strategic Reform Program. The DSRAB enables Defence to draw on the combined insights of senior private-sector leaders with experience in large-scale organisational reform as well as the broader whole-of-government perspectives of secretaries of key government departments. The DSRAB comprises a number of eminent Australians from the private and public sectors and meets quarterly.
The Board's primary function is to provide advice to Government, through the Minister for Defence, on implementation of the SRP, and to assist in ensuring that the reforms are being implemented in the way intended by Government.
Audit Branch provides assurance to the Secretary, CDF, and to a lesser extent, to the Chief Executive Officer for the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), that financial and operational controls designed to manage Defence's major risks are in place and are operating in an efficient and effective manner. Audit Branch also assists Defence senior managers and the DMO Executive in improving the business performance of their organisations.
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 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. This process will continue throughout 2012-13.
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.
The Defence Whistleblower Scheme (the Scheme) provides an alternative and independent way for any person – including ADF personnel, Defence public servants, and suppliers of goods and services – to report alleged misconduct or unethical behaviour. Whistleblowers may report information anonymously or request that their identity be protected. The Scheme aims to ensure that whistleblowers are properly supported and that they do not incur detriment as a consequence of making a report through the Scheme.
All allegations raised under the Scheme are assessed. Those assessed as warranting further examination are investigated by Inspector General staff or referred to other relevant Defence investigative or review organisations, as appropriate. Where wrongdoing is judged to have occurred, appropriate action is taken, which can include action through the civil courts or under the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 or the Public Service Act 1999. Wherever possible, feedback is provided back to the whistleblower on the outcome of investigations.
The Scheme is used to report a range of issues. Allegations of fraud and unethical conduct account for over 70 per cent of reports made through the Scheme. The remainder consists of matters such as harassment, use of drugs, security, mismanagement of resources, workplace health and safety, and assault.
Our employees conduct their duties in accordance with the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct, APS Values and Employment Principles. 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 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;
Loyalty - commitment to each other and Defence, in serving the Government of the day;
Integrity - doing what is right;
Courage - moral and physical strength;
Innovation - striving for better ways of doing business; and
Teamwork - working together with respect, trust and a sense of collective purpose.