Since 1975 the ADA has been Australia’s only truly independent, actively non-partisan, community-based, public-interest watchdog organisation and ‘think-tank’ on strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.
The reasons we came together as an independent, community-based, public-interest watchdog (and our history since then) can be found here.
Our primary mission is to represent the long-term public interest in helping ensure Australia is strategically secure and adequately defended.
The objects of the ADA are explained and codified in articles 6-7 of our constitution.
The ADA's public-interest guardianship focus covers the responsibilities, capabilities, efficiency and accountability of the governmental organs and agencies responsible for Australia's strategic security, defence and wider national security.
In the broadest sense this means the Australian government as a whole. It particularly includes the Department of Defence, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Australia's six intelligence and security agencies.
Our public-interest guardianship role can best be compared to the independent, non-partisan, national community watchdogs monitoring other important areas of national governance and public administration.
The best comparisons are:
- Taxpayers Australia (previously the Australian Taxpayers Association) in revenue effectiveness and taxation equity matters;
- the Australian Consumers Association (Choice) in consumer protection matters;
- the National Trust in heritage protection and preservation matters; and
- the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) in environmental protection matters.
To fulfil our primary mission we seek to assist informed public debate on strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.
This includes our efforts to balance and help counter the inevitable ideological, political or sectional biases often prominent in such debates. We also seek to help public debate strike an informed and practical balance between potentially competing public finance, community security and civil liberties requirements.
We are not the representative professional body for the defence force. Nor are we an ex-Service organisation representing former ADF members or war veterans. We are also not a defence industry body. This is explained further in the answers to several questions below.
We are entirely independent of the Australian Government, the defence force or indeed any other government or private body. This is also explained further below.