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Defence at a glance


The Defence mission is to defend Australia and its national interests.


Defence’s primary role is to protect and advance Australia’s strategic interests through the provision of military capabilities, the promotion of security and stability, and the provision of support to the Australian community and civilian authorities as directed by the Government.


In the 2017–18 Defence Corporate Plan the Defence purposes were revised from three to two core outcomes that Defence delivers to the Government and the Australian community:

  1. Defend Australia and its national interests
  2. Protect and advance Australia’s strategic interests.

Defence’s performance in achieving its purposes during the 2017–18 reporting period is described in Chapter 3, ‘Annual performance statements’.


Our employees conduct their duties in accordance with the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct and the APS Values. The purpose of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 is to maintain and enforce military discipline necessary for Australian Defence Force (ADF) capability.

The ADF also has Service-specific values. These APS and ADF values and rules are the foundation for our work and govern the way we relate to our stakeholders and to each other.

Without diminishing the ADF 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 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.

These values are also reflected in the One Defence Leadership Behaviours, which help to embed an organisational culture where leadership, professionalism and corporate behaviour are valued and rewarded. The One Defence Leadership Behaviours underpin all decisions and actions of Defence personnel. They are:

  • Contributor
  • Learner
  • Accountable
  • Risk Manager
  • Inclusive
  • Team Builder
  • Innovator.


Through the 2016 Defence White Paper, the Government has identified Australia’s strategic defence interests as:

  • a secure, resilient Australia with secure northern approaches and proximate sea-lines of communication
  • a secure nearer region, encompassing maritime South-East Asia and the South Pacific
  • a stable Indo-Pacific region and rules-based global order.

The First Principles Review, which commenced in 2014, aims to ensure that Defence will remain fit for purpose and able to promptly respond to future challenges. The review report, First Principles Review: Creating One Defence (2014), made 75 recommendations that will ensure Defence is fit for purpose and can deliver against the Government’s strategy. The majority of the recommendations are now closed (71 of 75 as at June 2018). Defence continues to focus on embedding the changes to create a more unified and integrated organisation, more consistently linked to its strategy and clearly led by its centre.


Defence is administered by a diarchy, which is the term used to describe the joint leadership of Defence by the Secretary of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force under the general control of the Minister for Defence. The concept, which is supported by legislative and administrative arrangements, encompasses the individual and joint responsibilities and accountabilities of the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force.

Portfolio structure

As at 30 June 2018, the Defence portfolio consisted of:

  • the Department of Defence (including the ADF)
  • trusts and companies
  • statutory offices created by the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 and the Defence Act 1903
  • the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and its associated bodies.

Responsible ministers

As at 30 June 2018, the Defence portfolio had three ministers:

  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne as Minister for Defence
  • the Hon Christopher Pyne MP as Minister for Defence Industry
  • the Hon Darren Chester MP as Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC.


As at 30 June 2018, the Defence departmental net cash spend was $34.9 billion. More information about Defence funding can be found in Chapter 4, ‘Financial performance’.

Our people

As at 30 June 2018, the ADF actual strength was 58,363 members, and the APS actual full-time equivalent workforce was 17,728. More information can be found in Chapter 7, ‘Strategic workforce management’.

Where we work

Defence has the most extensive land and property holdings in Australia, including large training areas and bases close to the coastline. Defence also operates a number of operational bases around the globe.

Defence Base Locations