Finding and building future leaders amid COVID

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The Hon Darren Chester MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel

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13 August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed the Australian Defence Force Academy’s (ADFA) gates to the public, but young Australians will still be able to learn about the exciting leadership opportunities offered at the Academy.

Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said while the traditional ADFA Open Day couldn’t happen this year, a virtual program would provide young Australians interested in a career with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to have all their questions answered.

“Each year, the ADFA Open Day attracts tens of thousands of people interested in learning more about the lifestyle, tertiary education and military training on offer at the Academy,” Mr Chester said.

“In these uncertain times, the virtual Open Day provides more young Australians and their families the opportunity to learn about the military training and academic programs on offer without travelling to Canberra.

“As young people look to take the next step in their lives through further study and building a career, I encourage them to participate in the virtual Open Day and see what Defence has to offer.”

ADFA is the only university in Australia where students are paid to obtain a degree in the fields of Arts, Business, Science, Engineering or Technology. Students benefit from the best university teacher-to-student ratio in the country, with a guaranteed job upon the completion of their degree.

Each year ADFA welcomes more than 300 new midshipmen and officer cadets to study and train to become the next generation of Navy, Army and Air Force leaders.

Melbourne resident and Haileybury College Year 12 student, Kavinya Dissanayake, wants to attend the Australian Defence Force Academy.

She knows entry into ADFA is highly competitive, with successful applicants demonstrating the ability to work hard, take on challenges, and excel in team environments. This year, she has experienced the challenge of studying remotely, while striving for the required university admission scores and working hard to maintain her fitness.

“Because of the lockdown I couldn’t go to the gym. I’ve been going on long runs to build up my endurance. Being a part of the Air Force is my goal,” Kavinya said.

Her parents Don and Surekha Dissanayake are proud she wants to attend ADFA.

“At ADFA you have mateship and job security. That is one of the most important things we need in this country right now. It is also important to serve the community,” Don said. 

“ADFA and Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) have supported her very well. They have been in contact supporting her with every step,” Surekha said.

Midshipman Will Anderson is a third year Trainee Officer currently attending ADFA. He says military training has changed slightly due to COVID-19.

“I wanted to attend ADFA because I wanted a challenge, I wanted to develop my leadership skills and critical thinking,” Will said.

“In a military context we’re trained that anything can change [in] a heart-beat. This has been an opportunity for us to develop those skills and put them into practice.”

Midshipman Anderson will graduate from ADFA this year and has aspirations to protect peace and stability, managing close-knit teams to achieve essential outcomes for Defence and Australia.

“In 10 years all going well I hope to be in the operations room of a warship as a Principal Warfare Officer specialising in air warfare,” said Trainee Officer Will Anderson.

“ADFA has been the best three years of my life. I’ve learned so much about myself as well as leading people,” he said.

Military Instructor, Army Warrant Officer Class Two, Damien Timms said “ADFA is unique in the sense it combines academic training through the University of NSW with a military training component that develops young leaders.”

“I encourage young people to apply for ADFA as it provides great job security, education and rewarding challenges,” he said.

ADFA’s virtual Open Day starts on Monday 17 August, ending with a Facebook Live session on 22 August 2020. (

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Note – All vision and imagery was captured in early July 2020.

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