Australian Army Cadets

Australian Army Cadets


1976 – present
Role Volunteer Youth Organisation
Motto(s) "Courage, Initiative, Teamwork, Respect"
Commander Brigadier Wayne Budd, AM, CSC [1]
Assistant Commander Colonel (AAC)
Tam McQuinlan[1]
Chief of Staff Colonel (AAC)
Andrew Wyman[1]
Regimental Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class One
Peter Brown[1]
National Cadet
Under Officer
Cadet Under Officer
Daniel Newton[1]
National Cadet
Regimental Sergeant Major
Cadet Warrant Officer Class One
Ben Burgess[1]
Colonel-in-chief HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

The Australian Army Cadets (AAC) is a youth organisation that is involved in training and adventurous activities in a military setting. The programme has more than 19,000 Army Cadets between the ages of 12½ and 19 based in 237 units around Australia. The motto is "Courage, Initiative, Teamwork" and a recently added motto "respect".

The cadet programme has strong links to the Australian Army and is a part of the Australian Defence Force Cadets. However, its members are not members of the Australian Defence Force by virtue only of their membership of the Australian Army Cadets. While cadets are encouraged to consider enlisting in the military, it is not required that they do so.

Activities of the Army Cadets include navigation and orienteering, fun games, team buildings games, camps, ceremonial drill, radio communication skills, basic bush skills, equipment maintenance, participation in cadet bands, shooting the Australian Defence Force Service Rifle, the F88 Austeyr and the Australian Army Service Light Machine Gun, the F89 Minimi with one-on-one Army supervision.


The Australian Army Cadets is authorised under Section 62 of the Defence Act 1903 with lawful policies provided in the Cadet Forces Regulations 2013 (originally authorized under Cadet Forces Regulations 1977). The Australian Army Cadets is a youth organisation that is modelled on the Australian Army. It differs from Scouts Australia and other youth exploration groups as its main focus is that of learning and using military and leadership skills. The organisation boasts a nationwide reach with Cadet units in every state and territory in Australia.

Youths who have reached the age of 12 years (turning 13 in the year they join) are eligible to apply for enrollment into the AAC. Once enrolled, they may remain as a cadet until the day before they attain the age of twenty years. A cadet in the AAC is not considered to be a member of the Australian Defence Force, nor are cadets allowed to be a member of the Defence Force or, other than in approved exceptional circumstances, any other cadet service during their time as a cadet.

Research studies have shown that cadets have performed better than non-cadets in Australian Defence Force Training, and 25.4% of the Australian Defence Force has been in the Australian Defence Force Cadets. From 2001 to 2005, cadets have made up 10% of applications and 11% of total Australian Defence Force enlistments.[2]


Cadets of the 306 ACU and Australian veterans parading in Melbourne on ANZAC Day.

The King's School and Newington College vie for the honour of having the oldest Cadet Corps in Australia.[3] An embryonic corps was founded by Newington College when a drill master was appointed to staff in 1865. Two years later, a sergeant-major was appointed and muskets and carbines were purchased and an armoury and gunpowder store were opened at Newington College. The first official unit in Australia was established on 29 March 1866 at St Mark's Collegiate School by Reverend Macarthur. In June 1868, The King's School had closed and did not reopen until January 1869, when it was amalgamated with the St Mark's unit, the unit was renamed The King's School Cadets Corps. In 1869, the Newington College Cadet Corps was formally incorporated by the Governor of New South Wales (Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore) and that unit is now believed to be the second oldest continually running corps in Australia, after The King's School Cadet Corps.[4] With the establishment of many cadet units and corps at numerous boys schools throughout the Commonwealth, His Majesty King Edward VII established the Commonwealth Cadet Corps in Australia on 16 July 1906.

In 1910, the universal training scheme was introduced, under the scheme all medically fit males 14–18 years of age had to serve in cadets. Boys who did not comply were charged and dealt with by the courts. Training cadets were divided into two groups. Senior cadets aged between 16–18 years of age were attached to Militia Units (now known as Army Reserve Units), called Regimental Detachments, while students aged between 14–16 years of age remained as school cadets. Officers came from teaching staff and selected cadets were made "Cadet Lieutenants". In 1939, the outbreak of World War II caused the Regimental Detachments to be disbanded as staff were needed to train soldiers for overseas service. Some School Based Units closed down while some struggled on. By the end of World War II, Regimental Detachments had been re-raised. Between 1949 and 1975, School Based Units were attached to Citizen Military Forces units. The CMF is the precursor of the modern day Australian Army Reserve. Regimental Units continued to exist. By 1951, The Commonwealth Cadet Corps was renamed the Australian Cadet Corps (ACC) and on 2 June 1953, The Duke of Edinburgh became the Colonel-in-Chief of the ACC, as a part of the coronation of his wife, Queen Elizabeth II. The Duke of Edinburgh presented his banner as a gift to the Corps on 2 May 1970 at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. At this time, there were 46,000 cadets in Australia.

In 1975, the ACC was disbanded by the Whitlam Labor government and was re-raised by the Fraser Liberal government on 1 October 1976. By 1981, the ACC had 20,650 cadets. As a result of the Beazley Defence review white paper in 1984, full military support was withdrawn from school based cadet units, now classed as Limited Support Units (LSU). Military support for LSUs was limited solely to the discretionary loan of equipment for Annual camps. Uniforms, transport, rations and personal equipment all had to be funded by the school, parents or community organisations such as the RSL. As a result, most government school based cadet units closed between 1984 and 1986. Instead, full military support was provided to cadet units based at existing Army depots, now classified as Regional Cadet Units (RCU). Some school based units in disadvantaged areas or located some distance from a military depot were given RCU status. Many RCUs attracted cadets from the nearby school based units recently closed down. In NSW, the first RCU formed was 20 RCU Ashfield, originally Punchbowl High School Cadets, and then based at the 2 Construction Group depot of RAE in Haberfield, Sydney in early 1984. By 1998, however all cadet units again received full support. During 1993, the Australian Cadet Corps was renamed the Australian Army Cadet Corps. Many cadet units were now re-equipped with DPCU uniforms replacing the older green uniforms. In 2001, the Australian Army Cadet Corps was renamed the Australian Army Cadets as part of major reforms brought about with the Topley review and during 2004, the title of Regional Cadet Unit (RCU) was dropped in favour of Army Cadet Unit (ACU). Governor-General Michael Jeffery presented a replacement banner on behalf of the Duke to commemorate the centenary of the cadets on 24 September 2005, with the old Duke of Edinburgh Banner laid up at the Soldiers Chapel at Kapooka during the 2006 Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge.

The AAC celebrated its centenary since the establishment of the Commonwealth Cadet Corps on 16 July 2006, as opposed to the centenaries of individual units, with the Victorian Brigade holding a large parade to mark the event.


Structure of the Australian Army Cadets.

Cadet Policy Branch (previously known as Directorate Defence Force Cadets), whilst not being part of the official command structure provide services in policy development, tri-service activity and other projects. Cadet Policy Branch was disbanded in 2009.


In order to be Cadet member of the Australian Army Cadets, interested individuals must be aged between 13 and 17, have Australian Citizenship or permanent residency and must sign and agree with the conditions of the ADFC behavior policy and must have parental consent.

To become a Civilian Cadet Officer applicants be aged over 17, have to pass a working with children check, be Australian Citizens or permanent residents, pass a psychological examination by a AAC contracted Psychologist and medical examination at the expense of the local doctor, staff will commence training courses run by the Australian Army to train the Officers to supervise and train cadets.

Cadet and Officer Membership does involve Military Training and experience but does not make them automatically entitled to join the Australian Defence Force as it is subject to separate requirements.


The AAC is the Army's youth organization, as of 2001 Cadets wears a "Auscam" fatigues uniform much like that of the Australian Army and standing orders of dress are the same as that of serving members. In order to distinguish Cadets from Australian Soldiers, cadets wear a blue oval patch in a similar shape to the ADF service badges but with the Corps's iconic "sword and torch emblem" on it, epaulettes always have the prefix "Army Cadet" or "AAC' added to them. Cadet's slouch hats always have a metal "sword and torch" badge at the front and a blue and yellow patch on the left side, the "response gear tactical footwear" brand of Military boots are the most common among Cadets,

In some unit establishments, the first 6 months cadets wear an Auscam boonie hat before they wear a slouch hat when they reach the rank of Cadet. Although this is not an accepted practice, it continues.

Cadets also wear webbing and khaki-Auscam sweaters, some SBU also retain permission to wear unit specific berets, however these are largely ceremonial and are not endorsed for AAC activities.

The ceremonial Uniform is identical to the Australian Army counterpart with the only difference being the ranks and badges as listed above.

In the early 1990s Cadets wore an essentially different uniform to the Australian Army, They at the time were called the Australian Cadet Corps. the original uniform consisted of olive drab fatigues a green beret and thin square shaped badges with the "Sword and Torch" emblem (note: the current emblem has the rising sun on top of the "sword and torch" unlike the originals which had a crown instead) they had a respective unit badge and black boots and a green beret and they also wore an olive drab sweater.

During 1996 when the Army Cadet scheme was revised as the "Australian Army Cadet Corps" the uniform underwent a large update, they wore black boots and for the first time ever "Auscam" fatigues and slouch hats with the "rising sun" gold badge on the front, during the time Cadets wore respective unit badges and the Corps badge was thicker and had "Australian Army Cadet Corps" written below the "sword and torch" which had the "rising sun" instead of the original crown.

Some units such as 413 ACU are specialised in music such as pipes and drums. On ceremonial occasions cadets wear a ceremonial uniform. Some SBUs such as Toowoomba Grammar School and King's School often also retain school uniforms as a dress code for non-AAC activities whereby the students are attending on behalf of the school, and the unit such as memorial services for former students.

In addition, cadets qualified and holding the rank of Cadet Under Officer (CUO) wear a traditional military Sam Browne Belt in place of the Black Ceremonial Belt, and may also carry the 1895 pattern Infantry Sword whilst in ceremonial dress, some schools may also retain a stock of different style swords for various detachments and attachments that are maintained for historical purposes.

A cadet qualified to and holding the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer Class One (CDTWO1), may also wear the traditional military Sam Browne Belt. A CDTWO1 holding the position of Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major (CDTRSM) at a Unit, Battalion, Brigade or National level is entitled to carry a Pace Stick. A CDTRSM may also carry an undrawn sword in white slung gear, when in ceremonial orders of dress. CUO's are entitled to carry a riding crop, however this practice has fallen out of style, with many units not maintaining a stock.

The Cadet uniform policy also applies to Civilian Cadet officers but does not apply to ADF members training with the AAC.

The Kings School Cadet Corps wears a different uniform.

"Parent helpers" and non member volunteers may choose to wear a polo shirt with the AAC or unit emblem embroidered Patch, "parent helpers" and volunteers wear safety gear when appropriate but not DCPU uniforms.

Cadet Unit Support

Community based cadets units are supported by the Australian Army in terms of equipment, basic funding and Instructors, parents of the Cadets help out on working bees, fundraising events and by volunteering as regular parent helpers. school based units usually have limited support units and are supported by the school itself,school based unit's Civilian Cadet Officers are usually teachers of the respective school.

Cadets Rank System

Example of a Cadet Corporals rank patch.

Instructor of Cadets (IOC) Rank

Officer of Cadets (OOC) Rank

Whilst Officers of Cadets hold the same ranks as the Australian Army, OOCs do not hold any commission.

Officer of Cadet Appointments

Army Cadet Units are under command of an Officer Commanding (OC), usually of the rank Major or Captain. Some units are big enough to be commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel, appointed as the Commanding Officer (CO). Newly appointed OOCs who are to command a cadet unit are often given a trial period. During this time rather than being referred to as a CO or OC they are termed an Administrative Commander (Admin Comd). On successful completion of the agreed trial or probationary period and completion of the OOC Command Course their appointment is changed to CO or OC as the case warrants.
Other appointments that may be held by OOC/IOCs are Quartermaster, Adjutant, Administration Officer, Training Officer, Operations Officer, as well as various other appointments that exist at Battalion, Regional and National Headquarters.


Cadets are trained mainly on Military lines similar to that of the ADF, although none of the training are "war-like" in nature. Since the corps was reinstated by the Fraser government in 1976, the Military favoured aspect of the Australian Army Cadets curriculum is what attracts youth the most as joining the military is a very common desire and ambition amongst young people. In 1996 Brigadier Mark Brewer proposed to relax the ban on 'war-like' training to allow a more balanced directive to allow basic tactical activities to be undertaken and was approved in 2001 however none of the activities promote violent or anti social behaviour.

There has been significant criticism of the organisation's training, with many critics citing the outdated and often ignored Training Management Plan (TMP), with the latest release dating 1997. The AAC does not hold Registered Training Organisation status and thus does not provide formal qualifications for cadets upon graduation, however some units (particularly School Based Units (SBU)) do maintain records of attainment, or provide their own curriculum.

The 2002 revision of the TMP is currently under revision by S1 Training Development. At this stage the review intends to consolidate the training facilitation, however critics have noted the absence of ELT (Electronic Learning Technologies) within the CadetNet system, lack of RTO status, and continued conservative war-like training. Many cadets have labeled the training revision as being passe, and consultation with units has not been conducted.[5]


Drill training encompasses all Army drill movements from Attention and Stand at Ease, to Forms on the March. Cadets also learn weapon drill, including Weapons Drill with the Small Magazine Lee–Enfield .303 Rifles, L1A1 SLRs and F88 Austeyrs' and Colour Drill .303 and SLR drill is being phased out and is only taught at unit level, since the 1996 Firearms act. CDTWO2s and CDTWO1s, who hold the position of Company Sergeant Major or Regimental Sergeant Major, perform Cane and Pace Stick drill respectively. In the case of a Cadet Under Officer, Sword Drill is performed. Many units may also have a Drum Corps, Pipes and Drums or a Band. Drum/Pipe and Band Majors carry a Mace. Drill is taught as per the Land Warfare Procedures - General [LWP-G 7-7-5] Drill Manual, 2005 and the Australian Army Ceremonial Manual, 1999, Volumes 1 & 2.


Cadets are taught all aspects of fieldcraft as appropriate to the Army, this includes; Section Formations, Camouflage and Concealment, Field Signals, Moving by day and night. Cadets are also taught basic bushcraft. This also includes cadets having to erect their own individual shelter or hootchies.

First Aid

Cadets complete a basic course on first aid encompassing a small component within the TMP. This unit is not accredited and cadets are not qualified first aiders, but purely have first aid knowledge. They are taught how to treat injuries such as fractures, bites and stings and heat/cold related injuries such as heatstroke and frostbite. Cadets are taught to prevent, manage and treat injuries. They are taught how to call in a CASEVAC for emergency situations.


Cadets are taught navigational skills in line with the Australian Army's navigation training for all ranks. There is an emphasis on military equipment and maps. Consequently, cadets are taught to use the standard issue service prismatic compass along with the lightweight compass, protractor and standard issue service topographical survey maps. Some units incorporate orienteering and rogaining into their programs, however the TMP does not include, nor suggest this.

Radio Telecommunications (Ratel)

Cadets are taught Radio Telecommunications skills in accordance with the Australian Army's Ratel training. Cadets are taught the use of communications equipment such as the army raven radios (a low band VHF set), or simple UHF Handheld radios, and the proper processes that apply to communications in the Army. Cadets are also taught the maintenance of their radio equipment. As of late, the RAVEN series of radios are becoming more common for use in cadets.

Management Skills

See the section regarding Promotion Courses

Firearms Training

Cadets may have limited opportunity to shoot the F88 Austeyr under army supervision.

Currently all .22 long rifle training is suspended for the AAC, however, in the past, cadets have attended international competitions.

Promotion Courses

Whilst policy[6] requires a cadet to complete a promotion course to attain any rank from CDTCPL to CUO/CDTWO, this policy is often interpreted flexibly, with some cadets being promoted up to and including the rank of CDTSSGT without having done the course, as promotions of CDTSSGT or below are decided at the individual unit OC's discretion. Promotion above CDTSSGT need to be authorised at the Brigade/Regional Headquarters level.[6] Promotions courses are run by each Region for their own cadets and are generally planned by the Regional Headquarters. Permission may also be extended to Battalion Headquarters (in large regions) and individual cadet units (usually school based) to run courses, as needed, independently to that of the Regional run courses, where a Brigade/Unit will supply staff to run the course.

To be qualified to obtain the rank of Cadet Lance Corporal or Cadet Corporal, a cadet must be deemed competent on the AAC Junior Leaders' Course (JLC, previously known as the Junior Non-commissioned Officers Course, JNCO Course). To be qualified for the rank of Cadet Sergeant a cadet must then pass the AAC Senior Leaders' Course (SLC). This was previously known Senior Non-Commissioned Officer's Course (SNCO Course), and is often today shortened to SLC. For any further promotion, a cadet must complete AAC Cadet Under Officer/Cadet Warrant Officer's Course (CUO/WOs). To be promoted to CDTWO2 or higher, a cadet must be over the age of 16,[6] however, in the past, this has not been strictly adhered to.

Senior cadets (Usually above the rank of CDTSGT) can apply to be Assistant Directing Staff (ADS) on Promotion Courses who instruct groups of cadets on courses, depending on their rank, with NCOs below the rank of CDTSGT occasionally assisting as General Duties Staff (GDS). The content of these courses is outlined by National Headquarters (HQ AAC) in the AAC's Training Management Packages (TMP), with a common list of instruction and assessment applicable to each course. The courses are held in state as follows:

Other Activities

Other activities that cadets often participate in are:

Infantry Minor Tactics

Units that have an Army Liaison Officer have the opportunity to learn Basic Military Tactics. subjects may involve patrolling, reconnaissance and harbouring, Such Activities may involve an opposing force in which the opposite team have to evade or detect to put their skills to the test, these activities are supervised by competent staff who usually have a military background to ensure that these activities are done safely, older cadets who are at least 16 years old may advance towards more of these types of activities provided that they are capable and have parental consent.

Special to Unit Training

Both School Based and Regional Cadet Units may undertake Training that is exclusive to their unit and is not normally part of the AAC program, for example units that are Associated with a parachute regiment may undertake Parachute Training, and 161 ACU Aviation have an emphasis on pilot Training. These units usually undertake unique training in lieu of a long relished tradition which began during the age of the Australian Cadet Corps as during then there was no particular central program and single service Corps Commanders decided the program.

Some units also have significant history dating well beyond that of the ADFC and the ADF as a whole. One such example includes Toowoomba Grammar School Cadet Unit (TGSCU) (entitled to drop 'A' due to its previous Air Force Unit) which celebrated its 120-year history in 2012. Toowoomba Grammar School Cadet Unit has posted a unique vigil in Toowoomba every year since 1932, which requires different training from the AAC standard. TGSCU has also been noted in developing the first training repository, which cataloged and maintained lesson plans and materials for every lesson within the TMP. TGSCU remains the longest operating unit in the AAC, which unlike older units in Australia did not close during the Whitlam consolidation.[7][8]

Annual Field Exercise

The AAC conducts an Annual Field Exercise (AFX) once every year at regional level for a duration of 1 to 2 weeks.

Levels of training for annual camps across Australia differ, but usually consists of three levels (Tiers):

In addition, many School Based Units run their own AFX, as they have the numbers to allow them to do so. By state their AFXs are:


To differentiate members of the Australian Army Cadets (AAC) from serving members Australian Regular Army (ARA), members of the AAC wear issued Royal Blue oval shaped patches on both shoulders. These patches identify the cadet as a member of the AAC, and may also provide an indication as to the cadet's home state or territory.

As of 2010, the AAC also adopted a new rank slide for those wearing the updated Near Infer Red (NIR) Camouflage uniform with NATO style chest rank slide, to further differentiate them from serving members of the ARA. In place of the black AUSTRALIA written at the bottom of standard issue ARA rank slides, the cadet rank slide employs a royal blue strip emblazoned with the words ARMY CADET in yellow. OOC and IOC rank slides have the acronym AAC in place of the words ARMY CADET.

In 2013 the SA AAC BDE commander issued a statement allowing army cadets to wear the blue Australian flag velcro patch on the NIR uniform with an aus cam back ground. However, this patch must be worn on the left arm and can only be blue to differentiate ADF and cadet personnel.


In addition to being issued with a uniform, new cadets are often issued with an array of field equipment to assist cadets on field exercises.

Awards and Commendations

Within the AAC, members (both cadets and staff) are eligible for Commendations for various achievements within the AAC. Commendations are given at Regional Commander AAC (Bronze), Deputy Commander AAC (Silver) and Commander AAC (Gold) level. Commendations are awarded at the discretion of their respective representative, often on the basis of a recommendation; However, some achievements warrant to the immediate presentation of a commendation. These are as follows:

Note 1: "Dux" is also often referred to as "Student Of Merit"

Other Awards are:

Obsolete awards are:

National Cadet Advisory Council

The National Cadet Advisory Council (NATCAC) is the link between cadets and HQ, and consists of the NATCUO, RCUOs, NAT CDTRSM and REG CDTRSMs. The NATCAC has the power to influence changes to cadet policy and is the voice of cadets at HQ. The NATCAC is chaired by the National CUO; Daniel Newton, as of March 2015. Cadets of all ranks and status are effectively involved in the ongoing management of the AAC.


Generally, many of the Australian public view the Cadets program as a positive youth development program, however political views have constantly changed throughout the years. Cadets have most notably been subject to criticism because their program and structure has often resembled that of a paramilitary organisation including the adoption of military uniforms, discipline and structure unlike other youth development organisations. This was especially in the 1970s where the Cadet movement was temporary disbanded and also resulted in the suspension and review of Military Like Training.

In 2007 a Cadet from Scotch College Cadet Unit called Nathan Francis died from an anaphylactic reaction to a Combat Ration Pack, and it resulted in that particular brand of rations getting banned. A memorial service for Nathan Francis is often conducted on the VIC AAC CUO/CDTWO Leadership courses in memorial. At the same time Professor Judith Bessant accused the AAC of grooming children to be violent, however Colonel (AAC) Colin Axup presented the AAC's mission as a youth development organisation while at the same time acknowledged the organisations Military Structure and background.

In 2014, a Cadet Officer, Christopher Gordon Williams was jailed for sending inappropriate messages to a teenage girl from Scouts Australia in which he was involved with outside Army Cadet Movement.

There has also been various controversies regarding the behaviour of male cadets around female members of the organisation. Critics have cited the 'old-school tie' nature of many promotions, and the poor treatment, or secondary treatment of women. Some SBU's have also been criticised for favouring students for promotion who provide extra revenue streams for the school.

See also


External links

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