1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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This chapter was contributed by the Australian Government Department of Defence (November 2011).

The principal responsibility of the Defence portfolio is the defence of Australia and its national interests. The portfolio consists of three primary bodies: the Department of Defence; the Australian Defence Force (ADF), encompassing Navy, Army and Air Force (including their reserves); and the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO). Together, these organisations have more than 100,000 personnel, including ADF permanent forces, reservists and civilian employees.

During 2011, Defence has maintained a high level of operational activity because of ongoing international commitments and new domestic challenges. In particular:

  • The ADF continued operations to stabilise Australia’s strategic environment and protect Australia’s borders. As at November 2011, approximately 3,300 ADF personnel were deployed on 10 operations, spanning Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific. Additionally, approximately 550 ADF members were actively protecting Australia’s borders and offshore maritime interests.
  • Over 2010–11, the ADF engaged in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations in Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Japan. As part of Defence’s relief efforts at home, approximately 3,400 personnel were deployed, firstly in response to the destruction wrought by the Queensland and Victorian Floods in December 2010 and January 2011, and then by Cyclone Yasi in February 2011.

This chapter details the roles and activities undertaken by Defence, with a particular focus on Defence’s operations, organisational structures and present capabilities. Further information may be found on the Defence website or from the references listed in the bibliography at the end of this chapter.

The chapter also contains an article, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in Defence.

Related information can be found in chapter 5 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.