Minister for Defence Media Mail List

Thursday, 4 December 2008


The Minister for Defence, The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP and the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, today spoke at the Defence 2020 National Challenge at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

The Defence 2020 brings together secondary school students from across Australia, and aims to increase awareness and understanding of the role the Australian Defence Force has within the Australian community.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the 18 students chosen to participate in the National Challenge have displayed remarkable drive and understanding of often complex issues, and I hope they maintain an ongoing interest in Defence and the role of the ADF.

“The program has given these students the opportunity to learn and debate what the ADF is all about and I hope they will take this experience back to their schools, and help to promote greater understanding of Defence among their peers, and within their communities,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

Defence 2020 is an education resource program, developed under contract by Ryebuck Media, and is designed to help students investigate the relevance of Defence issues to their own lives.

The National Challenge is the culmination of a series of 15 Regional Youth Challenges held throughout the country over recent months. National Challenge students toured Defence establishments in Sydney before travelling to Canberra to present role-plays to Government and senior ADF members.

Students were chosen for the National Challenge on the basis of submissions they made relating to the ADF.

“I congratulate all students who have participated in the Defence 2020 program in 2008, and especially recognise the efforts of the students chosen for the National Challenge. They have represented themselves and their schools with great distinction,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Snowdon said they were smart kids, with a lot of great ideas, and an impressive understanding of the issues facing the ADF.

“I extend my congratulations to everyone who has taken part in Defence 2020. They have represented themselves and their schools with great distinction,” Mr Snowdon said.


Minister for Defence

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel



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On Thursday 4 December 2008, 18 students from all over Australia gathered at the National Museum of Australia to present their Defence 2020 reports and findings to the Minister for Defence, the Honourable Joel Fitzgibbon.

The students were state and territory winners of the Defence 2020 Participation Task, that asked them to explore some aspect of the ADF and responsible citizenship.

The student entries varied from the past (such as Simpson's relationship with Indian troops in World War 1, and Ralph Honner's leadership on the Kokoda Track in World War 2), to the present (the work of the Department of Veterans' Affairs in supporting former members of the ADF, and the under-publicised achievements of Australian troops in Afghanistan in civil infrastructure works and nation-building).

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Some students found aspects of the ADF to criticise, and several were able to test their ideas in present-day contexts: the work of the Destroyer HMAS Ballarat in Sydney Harbour, the role of the paratroop regiment 3RAR based at Holsworthy, and the efforts of the RAAF at Richmond Air Base. Students were able to question serving ADF personnel, many of whom had experience in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. All students recognised the great civic virtues that overwhelmingly characterise the work of the ADF today. The point was particularly brought home at Holsworthy, where several of the soldiers to whom the students spoke had worked with Australia's latest casualty in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Fussell. It was a sobering reminder of the main role of the ADF, and the reality of the sacrifice that ADF members are prepared to make for their nation.

The final presentation at the NMA saw the students able to report on their work, discuss their findings during their three-day program, and band together to present a role-play about the ADF's achievements and responsibilities as a peacekeeper and an ally.

Defence Minister Fitzgibbon, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Snowdon and Vice Chief of Defence General Hurley all enjoyed and were amused by the irreverent but insightful role play, and responded to the tough questions thrown at them by the students.

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The Defence 2020 program has been designed to increase students' awareness of the many and varied roles and responsibilities of the ADF as a significant national institution. The nearly two thousand students who participated in the Youth Challenge series have developed a great respect for the fine civic values that the ADF sets and strives always to achieve. This increased knowledge, critical evaluation and understanding were demonstrated by the 18 student winners on the day, and all three official representatives acknowledged this in their replies to the student presentations and questions.

Defence 2020 (2008) is now over. We have explored the role of the ADF as a responsible citizen in a variety of ways. 2009 will see the dedication of the National Australian Peacekeeping Memorial in Canberra, and we hope that the focus of Defence 2020 (2009) will be on Australian peacekeeping, and especially the role that the ADF is playing in modern day peacekeeping and peacemaking in Afghanistan and other areas.

Watch out for details early in 2009!

See more information on the National Youth Challenge