Defending Australia is a universal civic responsibility of all Australians. It is not, for example, just the responsibility of serving or former members of our defence force. All Australians need to think about how we can be best defended and how our government should organise, resource and sustain this fundamental national responsibility.
We are therefore a broadly community-based organisation. Most of our members have never served in our defence force (although many have).
Our members are spread across all states and mainland territories and come from a wide range of ages, occupations and backgrounds. The main thing that motivates Australians to join the ADA is a belief in the importance of Australia adequately providing for its external defence and internal security.
Another thing we share in common is recognition of the importance of an informed and vibrant public debate on defence and wider national security issues (including domestic security and associated civil liberties). Finally, ADA members do not believe that thinking about our common defence is somehow someone else's responsibility and they act on that belief.
As we are a community-based organisation most of our members have never served in the defence force, nor with one of our intelligence or security agencies or a police force (although many have). Our membership does include many war veterans of all ranks, but the incorrect and invalid assumption that national defence is, or should only be, of interest to such veterans alone (and therefore somehow not a universal civic responsibility of all Australians) is discussed below.
As well as Australians from all walks of life our members also include those with significant experience or a strong interest in defence and wider national security issues such as:
- former ministers for defence, former attorneys-general and other ministers from both sides of politics;
- serving and former senators and members of federal parliament from both sides of politics;
- serving and former ministers and members of state and territory parliaments (again from both sides of politics);
- retired Chiefs of the Defence Force, Navy, Army and Air Force; · serving and retired members of all ranks from all three Services and the various intelligence and security agencies;
- former Secretaries of the Department of Defence and other departments;
- former heads and senior members of Australian intelligence and security agencies; and
- current and retired government officials, diplomats, academics and scientists with an interest in defence and wider national security matters.
The Australian Defence Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Public Service and all the Australian political parties represented in federal parliament place no restriction on ADA membership. The provisions of the Defence Act, the Intelligence Services Act or the Public Service Act also do not preclude ADA membership.