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ADFA Graduation Parade, Canberra


I begin by acknowledging that the Australian Defence Force Academy sits on the land of the Ngunnawal People here in the ACT. If you’re a Canberran, you’ll know what a beautiful part of the country this is. We thank them for looking after it for us, for generation after generation, and pay our respects to their elders past and present.

Good morning.

It is always a pleasure for Linda and me to be on the ADFA Parade Ground, particularly in the presence of fine young men and women from the ADF on the day of their graduation from ADFA.

Congratulations to the graduands. Three years ago you arrived at ADFA full of potential. Today is another step towards realising that potential. Your success, which is being celebrated today, is the product of hard work. Well done.

There are two other groups that have contributed to that success.

The ADFA faculty staff and instructors – thank you for your input into the cadets’ education and training, and also your counsel. 

And the families gathered and watching online – thank you for your support and encouragement of your loved ones. It is a big part of the success being celebrated today.

When Linda and I arrived at the Academy this morning, we alighted from the car at The Tree of Knowledge – the centrepiece of the ADFA precinct.

The Tree of Knowledge symbolises the journey of ADFA trainees – a journey of growth, development and particularly learning, an essential part of leadership.

We have a saying in the ADF that a promotion is not a pat on the back. It is a sign that you can do more, and that more is expected.

As commissioned officers, either next year or the year after, you will be in command of Australians as they serve their country in uniform.

Those under your command will expect you to know what you are doing. It is a big responsibility. It is also a great privilege and will lead you to rewarding careers and lifelong relationships. Your training has prepared you well.

Natural disasters and a pandemic have figured prominently during your course.

In January and February 2020 you supported Operation Bushfire Assist, providing around-the-clock support to Queensland firefighters battling blazes in the ACT and southern New South Wales.

For those in the audience who may not know, the graduands helped ensure returning firefighters were well looked after when returning from the fire front. Service at its best.

And when COVID hit and all ADFA activities were forced online, I’m informed that the graduands met the challenge with ingenuity and good humour. They started online study groups, PT sessions and competitions to maintain morale. Commitment at its best.

For most on parade, today’s ceremony marks both the end of your time at ADFA and the beginning of your journey in the ADF.

For others, there is still a fourth year of your degree to complete at ADFA. Either way there is still much to learn and experience.

As the ADFA motto states: ‘To lead; to excel’.

I want to leave you with a quote from a friend of mine, General Jim Mattis, retired Marine, from his latest book.

‘They (the people you lead) expect you to have done your homework, to have mastered your profession.’

Why? Because they will place their lives in your hands. As I said earlier, it is a big responsibility.

Again, congratulations to the graduands – including our International Students – of ADFA’s 35th class.

Never ever stop learning. Strive to increase your capability – for yourselves, your families and your nation.

Good luck.