Release of 2019 Defence Census results

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The Hon Darren Chester MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel

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14 November 2020

PARTICIPATION in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) by women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has increased in the last four years, revealed in the 2019 Defence Census Public Report released today.

Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the Census provided valuable data on the demographic profile of the Defence workforce and assisted in the development of policies and conditions that keep pace with contemporary changes in Defence and Australian society.

“Providing a moment-in-time snapshot of the Defence workforce and their families, the Census highlights trends in areas such as education, work-life-balance and family circumstances,” Mr Chester said.

“Since 2015, female representation across the ADF has increased by 3.1 per cent, with Air Force seeing a 4 per cent increase during that time. Similarly, ADF personnel who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander increased from 2.3 per cent in 2015 to 3.7 per cent in 2019.

“This is great to see as it highlights that we are attracting a diverse range of people, which only makes our ADF better.”

The Census also tracks data on the families of serving personnel, which showed that 79 per cent of all Defence spouses were employed, while 8 per cent were not employed and looking for work.

For the first time, Defence collected information about study and use of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications, to assist with the development of Defence STEM capability.

“Thirty-nine per cent of the overall Defence workforce have a STEM qualification, with the top STEM field of study being engineering,” Mr Chester said.

More than 50,000 ADF personnel and Defence Australian Public Service employees took part in the 2019 Defence Census. The 2019 Defence Census Public Report is available at

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