Media liaison with the Australia Defence Association (ADA)

 What is the ADA and how do we contribute to informed public debate

  • Since 1975 we have been Australia's only independentnon-partisan and community-based national public-interest watchdog for strategic security, defence and wider national security issues.
  • Our role for national security matters is the same type of independent public-interest watchdog responsibility as that undertaken by Taxpayers Australia (previously the Australian Taxpayers Association) in tax matters, the Australian Consumers Association (Choice) in consumer matters, the National Trust in heritage matters and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) in environmental matters.
  • We are a fully and staunchly independent public body based in the broad Australian community.
  • We are not affiliated to the Australian Government in any way — including the Department of Defence, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) or any other department, agency or service. Nor are we affilated with any other public or private body.
  • We are not the representative professional organisation for the Australian Defence Force (see the contacts below for the Defence Force Welfare Association and the Defence Reserves Association).
  • Nor are we an "ex-Service" or "veterans" organisation, a "defence professional" institution, a "defence industry" body or an organisation representing any other sectional interest.
  • Comprehensive detail about who we are, what we do, and how and why we do it can be found through our frequently-asked-questions pages and in our constitution.


ADA media spokesman

  • When citing ADA comment our role and responsibilities can best be summarised as the independent public-interest watchdog for national security issues.

  • Under our constitution and operational procedures only our executive director, Neil James, is authorised to speak (on or off the record) on behalf of the ADA.

  • If an individual citation for ADA comment is required, please use our executive director.

  • Our national office is located in Canberra. Media comment and research assistance can be obtained via the following:
    • National Office:   (02) 6231-4444
    • Mobile:                (0408) 412-588
    • Email:                  media
    • Mail:                    PO Box 320, Erindale Centre, ACT, 2903, Australia
  • Please note that enquiries or feedback to the ADA from the general public are filtered out as spam if mistakenly emailed to the above media liaison address. They should instead be submitted to the enquiries or feedback email addresses respectively.


Scope of ADA media liaison

  • Due to its particular public-interest watchdog role the ADA focuses its efforts on strategic security matters broadly, capability and operational issues affecting our defence force in particular, and key national security issues generally.

  • We are happy to assist with media enquiries on issues concerning defence force capability, defence force operations, national defence strategy and policy, Australia's international and domestic security, and intelligence and security agency operations.

  • We are also happy to help bonafide journalists and media researchers in determining which official spokesperson, or subject-matter expert in Australia, might best be able to assist media enquiries.

  • We can also help with the historical, professional or technical background to current defence capabilities, strategies, operations and equipment — and with translating military or intelligence and security agency terminology and procedures into more widely understood terms.

  • Please note that media coverage of defence and intelligence agency issues, particularly by generalist journalists unfamiliar with such matters, often inadvertently results in public discourse becoming uninformed, politically biased and/or emotive.

    • While willing to help alleviate this growing problem we cannot do your research for you. Although — as noted in the links below — this website should help you with background on most national security topics.

    • We naturally expect that your enquiries will be based on adequate preliminary research and a reasonable level of general understanding (including the relevant causes or effects historically for issues of current community interest).

    • To help both you and us prevent cursory, simplistic, sensationalist or other uninformed media coverage, please note that we also expect a professional approach by you regarding facts, balance, context, nuance, and the relationship, if any, between current events and the longer-term history for the particular or related topics concerned.

    • Finally, we base our co-operation with you on the reasonable expectation that your questions will be objectively based on commonly known facts, reasonably-derived assumptions and professionally undertaken research, rather than on pre-conceived opinions, "story slants", commercial or personal advantage considerations, political biases or other unprofessional subjectivity.


What we cannot help you with

We cannot and will not comment where public discussion or media speculation must not occur because of one or more of the following factors:

  • Such matters are likely to help an enemy our troops are fighting. We acknowledge that you may not realise this until discussing the issue with us.

  • Discussion unacceptably risks the operational security, operational effectiveness or the general safety, welfare and morale of Australian defence force personnel or their allied counterparts.

  • Media and other public commentary on the topic is ignoring that operational security and operational effectiveness considerations involve matters of protecting human life (as well as protecting Australia's national interests).

  • Where the duty of care not to endanger our defence force personnel shared by all Australians is somehow regarded by a journalist as not constituting a citizenship or professional responsibility for him or her.

  • Where a journalist operates under the fallacious belief that they — or they alone — are somehow qualified, authorised or morally entitled to ignore or over-ride operational security considerations. Especially where the journalistic motivation in doing so is to gain a "scoop" for commercial advantage, personal career advancement or partisan-political gain regardless of the consequences for our defence force personnel.


What other organisations may be able to help you with

  • If your enquiry involves defence force personnel or general welfare matters (employee relations, conditions of service, family welfare, etc), you should contact the defence force itself, the relevant Department of Defence support agency, or the applicable ADF representative professional association:

  • Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA);

  • Defence Reserves Association (DRA);

  • Defence Community Organisation (DCO) of the Department of Defence; or

  • Defence Families of Australia (DFA). This is an organisation comprised of the civilian spouses and family members of defence force personnel. It is sponsored by the Department of Defence in order to advise the Minister for Defence and the department on the particular needs of the families of serving ADF personnel. 

  • If your enquiry involves veterans welfare, veterans health, wartime commemorative or associated protocol issues it should be directed to the relevant state or national office of the Returned and Services League (RSL).


Where to find information on this website

This website has a search function (in the contents bar) to facilitate background research on national security issues and to easily locate current and past ADA commentary.

More generally, our formal commentary — and authorative background information on many strategic security, defence and wider national security issues — may also be found as follows:


Electoral endorsements

As required by Australian law ADA electoral comment on this website and in our publications is authorised by Neil James, of the above address, in his capacity as executive director of the Association.

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