Australian Defence College

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The Australian Defence College (ADC) comprises three tri-service educational organisations operated by the Australian Defence Force in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory:

  • the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS),
  • the Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC) (both located at Weston Creek), and
  • the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA).

The ADC is headed by a two-star officer, currently Major General Simone Wilkie. Each of the educational organisations is headed by a one-star officer, or civilian of equivalent status, titled Commandant / Principal of their organisation.

Officers from other countries are sponsored to attend the courses offered at each organisation. Typically these people are paired with Defence 'foster' families in Canberra who can offer guidance and support during the visitor's stay.

The first two organisations are sited at a campus at Weston, ACT. This campus has been sold to private hands and leased back by Defence.

Both campuses maintain extensive libraries.

History of College[edit]

The current Australian Defence College has its origins in the report of the Defence Efficiency Review that was issued in May 1997. The report recommended sweeping changes to officer education in the Australian Defence Force.

The ADC was officially opened on 18 January 1999 by the Hon Bruce Scott MP, Minister Assisting the Minister of Defence. The founding Commander of the ADC was Rear Admiral Raydon Gates CSM, RAN.

The first two courses that were run at the ADC in 1999 were the Defence Staff Course (DSC) and the Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC). In 2000 these two courses were merged to form one course, the Defence and Strategic Studies Course, which is run by the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS).

On 14 March 2001 the then Governor–General, Sir William Deane, commemorated the establishment of the ADC, and officially opened the Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC). Prior to the establishment of the ACSC, middle management officer Command and Staff training was conducted at separate single Service staff colleges:[1]

On 1 October 2007 the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre (ADFWC) and the Australian Defence College merged under command of the Commander ADC, as part of the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Group.

They are now under the Commander, Joint Education, Training and Warfare.


Commander, Australian Defence College
Commander Term began Term ended
Rear Admiral Raydon Gates CSM, RAN 18 January 1999 21 August 2002
Major General Jim Molan AO 22 August 2002 April 2004
Rear Admiral Mark Bonser AO, CSC, RAN 3 May 2004 15 January 2006
Major General David Morrison AM 16 January 2006 2 April 2007
Brigadier Brian Dawson AM, CSC (Acting) 3 April 2007 2 August 2007
Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas AO, CSC, RAN August 2007 January 2008
Commander Joint Education, Training and Warfare
Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas AO, CSC, RAN January 2008 May 2008
Rear Admiral James Goldrick AO, CSC, RAN May 2008 2012
Major General Craig Orme AO, CSC 2012 July 2013
Major General Simone Wilkie AO July 2013

Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS)[edit]

"Joint Services Staff College" is also the former name of the British Joint Service Defence College

The Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (CDSS) – formerly known as the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies, and the Joint Services Staff College – opened in January 2001 as part of the reorganised Australian Defence College. The CDSS is intended for senior Service and civilian officers of mainly Colonel (equiv) rank.

The main course is an intensive Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC), primarily using study modules from various Australian universities. The DSSC is intended to give officers of the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Public Service and overseas participants with the knowledge and skills required by senior leaders and managers operating in the national security environment. The DSSC concentrates on the Asia-Pacific region. The interconnected thematic core curriculum blocks that are:

  • Development of Strategic Thought;
  • Command, Strategic Leadership and Management;
  • The Contemporary Strategic Setting;
  • Future Strategic Settings;
  • Australian Strategic policy – Past, Present and Future; and
  • Higher Command and Staff Studies.

Successful completion of this course is considered necessary for promotion to Brigadier (equiv) rank in the Australian Defence Force.

Distinguished Guest lecturers are used to give the course a practical context. Visiting Fellows include prominent academics from overseas.


The following is a list of the Principals, Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies.

Principal Term began Term ended
Paul Varsanyi 18 January 1999 5 January 2005
Myra Rowling 6 January 2005 8 December 2005
Maurice Hermann 5 January 2006 3 December 2006
Dr Alan Ryan 4 December 2006
Ian Errington Present

Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC)[edit]

The Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC) conducts courses intended to prepare field ranking officers (Major / Lieutenant Commander / Squadron Leader) and their Defence civilian equivalent for staff duties and subsequent promotion to command positions. Courses conducted are the:

  • Australian Command and Staff Course
  • Army Reserve Command and Staff Course
  • RAN Staff Acquaint Course

Other courses are preparations for these:

  • Overseas Course Member Orientation Period (OCMOP)
  • ACSC Course Member Orientation Week
  • Defence International Training Centre
  • Australian Defence Force Peace Operations Training Centre Course
  • Directing Staff Development Course (DSDP).


The following is a list of the Commanders, Australian Command and Staff College.

Commander Term began Term ended
Air Commodore Peter McDermott AM, CSC 14 March 2001 19 December 2002
Commodore Campbell "Cam" Darby AM, RAN 20 December 2002 January 2005
Brigadier Michael Clifford CSC January 2005 14 July 2005
Brigadier Wayne Bowen SC, AM 15 July 2005 18 September 2006
Brigadier Chris Appleton CSC 20 February 2007 14 December 2007
Captain Richard McMillan CSC, RAN (acting) 15 December 2007 March 2008
Brigadier Barry McManus CSC March 2008 January 2009
Brigadier Wayne Goodman AM January 2009 May 2010
Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN May 2010 2012
Brigadier Peter Gates AM, CSM 2012 Present

Roof collapse[edit]

At about 4.15pm on 30 January 2006, part of the roof collapsed into the staff offices on the second floor used by the ACSC at the Geddes building. Several staff had minor injuries. Classes were moved to the ADFA campus while restoration work was completed.

Australian Defence Force Academy[edit]

The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) is the educational institution for cadet officers of the Australian Defence Force, offering three- and four-year primary degrees, and postgraduate degrees.

ADFA is operated as a campus of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and has academic and support staff employed by the university. Military staff maintain a separate training program in non-academic time.

The campus is in Campbell, ACT, and is located between Russell, Campbell Park and Duntroon.

Current Commandant: Air Commodore Alan Clements

Rector: Professor Michael Frater

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ The History of the Australian Command and Staff College, Australia Defence College website. This page also contains: RAAF Staff College History; RAN Staff Course History; and History of the Army Staff College.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°19′12″S 149°03′30″E / 35.320036°S 149.05823°E / -35.320036; 149.05823 (Australian Defence College)