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Defence at a glance


To defend Australia and its national interests in order to advance Australia’s security and prosperity.


The 2019-20 Defence Corporate Plan notes the core purpose for Defence to deliver for the Government and the Australian community which is to:

  • Defend and protect Australia and advance its strategic interests.

Underpinning this purpose are two outcome statements through which we focus our portfolio resourcing and delivery of intended results for Government. These are:

  • Defend Australia and its national interests through the conduct of operations and provision of support for the Australian community and civilian authorities in accordance with Government directions; and
  • Protect and advance Australia’s strategic interests through the provision of strategic policy, the development, delivery and sustainment of military intelligence and enabling capabilities, and the promotion of regional and global security and stability as directed by Government.


In 2019-20 Defence undertook a review of its policy settings and force structure to ensure it can meet Government and Defence outcomes and adapt to shifts in the strategic environment and new technology challenges. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan sets out the new defence strategy with a focus on our near region in the Indo-Pacific. The new strategy – to shape Australia’s strategic environment, deter actions against Australia’s interests and respond with credible military force when required – prioritises the ADF’s focus on our immediate region.

Portfolio structure

As at 30 June 2020, the Defence portfolio consisted of:

  • the Department of Defence (including the Australian Defence Force)
  • the Australian Signals Directorate
  • 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 2020, the Defence has four ministers:

  • Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, Minister for Defence
  • the Hon Darren Chester MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs; Minister for Defence Personnel
  • the Hon Alex Hawke MP, Assistant Defence Minister; Minister for International Development and the Pacific
  • the Hon Melissa Price MP, Minister for Defence Industry.

Funding and assets

For 2019-20, Defence reported a departmental cash underspend of $349.4 million relative to an available appropriation of $38.3 billion. More information about Defence’s financial performance can be found in Chapter 4 - Financial summary. Defence currently manages $112.3 billion of total assets, including $71.6 billion of specialist military equipment.

Our people

As at 30 June 2020, the ADF actual strength was 59,760 members, APS actual full-time equivalent workforce of 16,505 and Reserve force of over 28,500. More information can be found in Chapter 6 - Strategic workforce management.

Our Projects

As at 30 June 2020, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group was managing 192 major and 14 minor acquisition projects, worth a total life cycle cost of $130.5 billion.

Where we work

Defence has the most extensive land and property holdings in Australia, with over $28.2 billion of buildings and infrastructure including large training areas and bases close to the coastline. Defence has environmental stewardship for over 3.5 million hectares of land in Australia and also operates a number of operational bases around the globe.

 Defence Headquarters Russell Offices HQJOC HMAS Harman Royal Military College Duntroon / Australian Defence Force Academy Australian Defence College Victoria: (Melbourne) HMAS Cerberus RAAF Williams Simpson Barracks Victoria Barracks DSTG Fishermans Bend (North of Melbourne) Puckapunyal (East of Melbourne) RAAF East Sale

About this report

This is the Secretary of Defence and Chief of the Defence Force’s performance report to the Minister for Defence, the Parliament of Australia and the Australian public for the 2019–20 financial year. The report addresses the purpose and outcomes of the Department of Defence and the Australian Defence Force—collectively known as Defence.

The report was prepared in accordance with parliamentary reporting and legislative requirements. The requirements table in Appendix E: List of requirements (page 278) identifies for the reader where required information may be found.

Online Content

An electronic version of this report and supplementary performance information may be accessed at www.defence.gov.au/annualreports. Appendix D: Supplementary online material of this report (page 277) lists the supplementary information that is available on the Defence website.

The Defence Annual Report 2019–20 is also published on www.transparency.gov.au.