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Australian Defence Force Academy Graduation Parade, Canberra


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Good morning. Linda and I are delighted to be back on the ADFA Parade Ground for this year’s ADFA Graduation Parade.

Congratulations to the graduands on your achievement. It’s impressive and you have done both ADFA and your families and friends proud.

Your graduation today marks the successful completion of three years of military and undergraduate academic studies. I’m sure there were times when you thought this day would never come.

This year in particular has been difficult because of COVID-19. The onset of the pandemic saw all ADFA activities moved online. I am informed you met this challenge with good humour and ingenuity, starting online study groups, PT sessions and competitions to maintain morale.

You persevered. You have now gained your qualification. I encourage you when faced with unforeseen challenges in the future to reflect on your ability to press on and to maintain focus.

As graduands, the education and training you have received from ADFA will equip you well as you perform your duties as young officers in the Australian Defence Force. I also encourage you to develop further your networks across the Services, especially with international colleagues from partner nations. From personal experience, these connections will enhance future interoperability for mission success and will serve you well throughout your career.

You begin your ADF career at a critical junction. The ADF is deeply embedded in the community and has before it an enormous task of protecting our country while re-assuring and re-affirming its relationship with the Australian people following the findings of the Brereton Inquiry. Bringing the Australian people along with the ADF will be an enormously important part of your work in the future.

There’s an old saying, ‘No man is an island.’ Behind the success stories on this parade ground are ADFA staff, and graduands’ families and friends.

To the ADFA staff — thank you for investing your time and expertise in helping develop the next generation of young officers. I am sure the graduands will reflect on your teachings and sage advice in years to come.

To the families and friends watching online — today’s parade is a proud moment for you. The unconditional encouragement and support you have provided to loved ones is a big part of the success on show today.

And, finally, to the graduands — including our International Students — of ADFA’s 34th class. Congratulations. Today marks the completion of academic studies and initial military training. You are well equipped to make an important contribution to our country.

As future commissioned officers you will be in command of Australians as they serve their country in military uniform. Leadership is not easy. You will have to make decisions that have consequences for other people and often under pressure. You need to develop an inner strength. You must have confidence in your ability to analyse an issue and to make a decision. In my own experience, as an officer, which began 45 years ago, I learned very quickly that my ears were more useful than my mouth!

Again, congratulations on your graduation. Enjoy the moment and best wishes for the future.