The Australian Army Cadets (AAC) is a youth organisation that is involved in training and adventurous activities in a military setting. The programme has more than 19,000 Army Cadets between the ages of 12½ and 19 based in 237 units around Australia. The motto is "Courage, Initiative, Teamwork" and a recently added motto "respect".

The cadet programme has strong links to the Australian Army and is a part of the Australian Defence Force Cadets. However, its members are not members of the Australian Defence Force by virtue only of their membership of the Australian Army Cadets. While cadets are encouraged to consider enlisting in the military, it is not required that they do so.

Activities of the Army Cadets include navigation and orienteering, fun games, team-building games, field camps, ceremonial drill, radio communication skills, basic bush skills, first aid, equipment maintenance, participation in cadet bands, shooting the Australian Defence Force Service Rifle, the F88 Austeyr and the Australian Army Service Light Machine Gun, the F89 Minimi with one-on-one Army supervision.


The Australian Army Cadets is authorised under Section 62 of the Defence Act 1903 with lawful policies provided in the Cadet Forces Regulations 2013 (originally authorized under Cadet Forces Regulations 1977). The Australian Army Cadets is a youth organisation that is modelled on the Australian Army. It differs from Scouts Australia and other youth exploration groups as its main focus is that of learning and using military and leadership skills. The organisation boasts a nationwide reach with Cadet units in every state and territory in Australia.

Youths who have reached the age of 12 and a half (turning 13 in the year they join) are eligible to apply for enrollment into the AAC. Once enrolled, they may remain as a cadet until the day before they attain the age of twenty years. A cadet in the AAC is not considered to be a member of the Australian Defence Force, nor are cadets allowed to be a member of the Defence Force or, other than in approved exceptional circumstances, any other cadet service during their time as a cadet.

Research studies have shown that cadets have performed better than non-cadets in Australian Defence Force Training, and 25.4% of the Australian Defence Force has been in the Australian Defence Force Cadets. From 2001 to 2005, cadets have made up 10% of applications and 11% of total Australian Defence Force enlistments.[2]


Cadets of the 306 ACU and Australian veterans parading in Melbourne on ANZAC Day.

The King's School and Newington College vie for the honour of having the oldest Cadet Corps in Australia.[3] An embryonic corps was founded by Newington College when a drill master was appointed to staff in 1865. Two years later, a sergeant-major was appointed and muskets and carbines were purchased and an armoury and gunpowder store were opened at Newington College. The first official unit in Australia was established on 29 March 1866 at St Mark's Collegiate School by Reverend Macarthur. In June 1868, The King's School had closed and did not reopen until January 1869, when it was amalgamated with the St Mark's unit, the unit was renamed The King's School Cadets Corps. In 1869, the Newington College Cadet Corps was formally incorporated by the Governor of New South Wales (Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore) and that unit is now believed to be the second oldest continually running corps in Australia, after The King's School Cadet Corps.[4] With the establishment of many cadet units and corps at numerous boys schools throughout the Commonwealth, His Majesty King Edward VII established the Commonwealth Cadet Corps in Australia on 16 July 1906.

However, military training to students commenced in 1851, the year Victoria separated from NSW, when Sergeant Major Cleary from the 12th Regiment of Foot, based at Victoria Barracks (Melbourne), commenced drill instruction to students at Scotch College before the establishment of their cadet unit in 1884 when The Volunteer (Cadet) Act 1884 came into effect. A school holiday was proclaimed on 19 November 1886 to mark the occasion of the first public parade of the Victorian Cadet Force at Albert Park. More than 2000 cadets representing the units of 41 state schools, 11 independent or private schools and one catholic school were inspected by the Governor.

In 1910, the universal training scheme was introduced. Under the scheme, all medically fit males 14–18 years of age had to serve in cadets. Boys who did not comply were charged and dealt with by the courts. Training cadets were divided into two groups. Senior cadets aged between 16–18 years of age were attached to Militia Units (now known as Army Reserve Units), called Regimental Detachments, while students aged between 14–16 years of age remained as school cadets. Officers came from teaching staff and selected cadets were made "Cadet Lieutenants". In 1939, the outbreak of World War II caused the Regimental Detachments to be disbanded as staff were needed to train soldiers for overseas service. Some School Based Units closed down while some struggled on. By the end of World War II, Regimental Detachments had been re-raised. Between 1949 and 1975, School Based Units were attached to Citizen Military Forces units. The CMF is the precursor of the modern day Australian Army Reserve. Regimental Units continued to exist. By 1951, The Commonwealth Cadet Corps was renamed the Australian Cadet Corps (ACC) and on 2 June 1953, The Duke of Edinburgh became the Colonel-in-Chief of the ACC, as a part of the coronation of his wife, Queen Elizabeth II. The Duke of Edinburgh presented his banner as a gift to the Corps on 2 May 1970 at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. At this time, there were 46,000 cadets in Australia.

In 1975, the AAC was disbanded by the Whitlam Labor government and was re-raised by the Fraser Liberal government on 1 October 1976. By 1981, the ACC had 20,650 cadets. As a result of the Beazley Defence review white paper in 1984, full military support was withdrawn from school based cadet units, now classed as Limited Support Units (LSU). Military support for LSUs was limited solely to the discretionary loan of equipment for Annual camps. Uniforms, transport, rations and personal equipment all had to be funded by the school, parents or community organisations such as the RSL. As a result, most government school based cadet units closed between 1984 and 1986. Instead, full military support was provided to cadet units based at existing Army depots, now classified as Regional Cadet Units (RCU). Some school based units in disadvantaged areas or located some distance from a military depot were given RCU status. Many RCUs attracted cadets from the nearby school based units recently closed down. In NSW, the first RCU formed was 20 RCU Ashfield, originally Punchbowl High School Cadets, and then based at the 2 Construction Group depot of RAE in Haberfield, Sydney in early 1984. By 1998, however all cadet units again received full support. During 1993, the Australian Cadet Corps was renamed the Australian Army Cadet Corps. Many cadet units were now re-equipped with DPCU uniforms replacing the older green uniforms. In 2001, the Australian Army Cadet Corps was renamed the Australian Army Cadets as part of major reforms brought about with the Topley review and during 2004, the title of Regional Cadet Unit (RCU) was dropped in favour of Army Cadet Unit (ACU). Governor-General Michael Jeffery presented a replacement banner on behalf of the Duke to commemorate the centenary of the cadets on 24 September 2005, with the old Duke of Edinburgh Banner laid up at the Soldiers Chapel at Kapooka during the 2006 Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge.

The AAC celebrated its centenary since the establishment of the Commonwealth Cadet Corps on 16 July 2006, as opposed to the centenaries of individual units, with the Victorian Brigade holding a large parade to mark the event.


Structure of the Australian Army Cadets.
  • Headquarters of the Australian Army.
  • Headquarters Australian Army Cadets (HQAAC).
  • Regional Headquarters (Brigades or Battalions, depending on number of cadets).
    • HQ NSW AAC BDE (includes 224 ACU Canberra, the only unit in the ACT and 230 ACU on Norfolk Island)
    • HQ NT AAC BN
  • Brigades are then broken up into Battalions, for example, in Victoria the battalions are 31 AAC BN (Melbourne Schools), 32 AAC BN (Western), 33 AAC BN (Northern) and 34 AAC BN (Eastern). This type of numbering system is followed in the other states.
  • Cadet Units are usually based on a company structure (the larger units are based on a battalion structure), and are under the control of both the Battalion and Brigade HQs.

Note: Although most regional headquarters are state based, Queensland has been split into North and South due to their combined size.

Cadet Policy Branch (previously known as Directorate Defence Force Cadets), whilst not being part of the official command structure provide services in policy development, tri-service activity and other projects. Cadet Policy Branch was disbanded in 2009.


In order to be Cadet member of the Australian Army Cadets, interested individuals must be aged between 12.5 and 17, have Australian Citizenship or permanent residency and must sign and agree with the conditions of the ADFC behavior policy and must have parental consent.

To become an Officer of Cadets applicants must be aged over 17, have to pass a Working With Children Check, be Australian Citizens or permanent residents, pass a psychological examination by a AAC contracted Psychologist and medical examination at the expense of the local doctor, staff will commence training courses run by the Australian Army to train the Officers to supervise and train cadets.

Cadet and Officer Membership does involve Military Training and experience but does not make them automatically entitled to join the Australian Defence Force as it is subject to separate requirements.


As of 2001 Cadets wear 'AusCam' uniform much like that of the Australian Army and standing orders of dress are the same as that of serving members. In order to distinguish Cadets from Australian Soldiers, cadets wear a blue oval patch in a similar shape to the ADF service badges but with the Corps's iconic "sword and torch emblem" on it, epaulettes always have the prefix "Army Cadet" or "AAC' added to them. Cadet's slouch hats always have a metal "sword and torch" badge at the front and a blue and yellow patch on the left side, the "response gear tactical footwear" brand of Military boots are the most common among Cadets.

There a 3 'orders of dress' within the AAC, all made up of parts of the Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform (DPCU) and are listed below.

Cadets also wear webbing and khaki-AusCam sweaters, some SBU also retain permission to wear unit specific berets, however these are largely ceremonial and are not endorsed for AAC activities.

Previously, the ceremonial cadet uniform was identical to that of the Army's, however, a recent directive has banned the use of this uniform — referred to as "Polyester" - and has replaced them with a variation of the general duty dress known as '4Z'.

In the early 1990s Cadets wore an essentially different uniform to the Australian Army, they at the time were called the Australian Cadet Corps. The original uniform consisted of olive drab fatigues a green beret and thin square shaped badges with the "Sword and Torch" emblem (note: the current emblem has the rising sun on top of the "sword and torch" unlike the originals which had a crown instead) they had a respective unit badge and black boots and a khaki beret and they also wore an olive drab sweater.

During 1996 when the Army Cadet scheme was revised as the "Australian Army Cadet Corps" the uniform underwent a large update, they wore black boots and for the first time ever "Auscam" fatigues and slouch hats with the "rising sun" gold badge on the front, during the time Cadets wore respective unit badges and the Corps badge was thicker and had "Australian Army Cadet Corps" written below the "sword and torch" which had the "rising sun" instead of the original crown.

Some units, such as 413 ACU, are specialised in music such as pipes and drums. On ceremonial occasions cadets wear a ceremonial uniform. Some SBUs such as Toowoomba Grammar School and King's School often also retain school uniforms as a dress code for non-AAC activities whereby the students are attending on behalf of the school, and the unit such as memorial services for former students.

In addition, cadets qualified and holding the rank of Cadet Under Officer (CUO) wear a traditional military Sam Browne Belt in place of the Black Ceremonial Belt, and may also carry the 1895 pattern Infantry Sword whilst in ceremonial dress, some schools may also retain a stock of different style swords for various detachments and attachments that are maintained for historical purposes. CUO's are entitled to carry a riding crop, however this practice has fallen out of style, with many units not maintaining a stock.

A cadet qualified to and holding the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer Class One (CDTWO1), may also wear the traditional military Sam Browne Belt. A CDTWO1 holding the position of Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major (CDTRSM) at a Unit, Battalion, Brigade or National level is entitled to carry a Pace Stick. A CDTRSM may also carry an undrawn sword in white slung gear, when in ceremonial orders of dress.

A cadet qualified to and holding the rank of Cadet Sergeant (CDTSGT) may wear a red sash with 27 threads at its end to represent each member of their platoon.

The Cadet uniform policy also applies to Officers of Cadets but does not apply to ADF members training with the AAC.

The Kings School Cadet Corps wears a different uniform.

4A — General Duty Dress

General duty dress consists of the following items:

  • Hat KFF - brim flat with accompanying badges and patches on the puggaree.
  • Boots - brown
  • Socks - khaki
  • Shirt DPCU - ironed, not tucked into trousers. Sleeves ironed flat.
  • Trousers DPCU - ironed, bloused into boots.
  • Undershirt - an AAC approved, brown undershirt may be worn.
  • Jumper - folded under itself to hide edge, sleeves rolled up ~7 cm.

4B — Field Dress

Field dress is similar in components to that of the General Duty Dress, however, it is not compulsory to iron the uniform. In addition to this, cadets may wear certain items of uniform:

  • Scrim - camouflaged net, to be worn around the neck and face areas
  • Camouflage paint - used to help the cadet blend into their environment
  • Gloves - these may be worn for comfort, protection or camouflage in a field environment.
  • Bush hat - compulsory, to be worn instead of Hat KFF

Note: with the exception of rank insignia, no items denoting rank are to be worn in the field environment.

4Z — AAC Ceremonial Parade Dress

Due to the banning of the Polyester uniforms in the AAC, a DPCU equivalent was created, its components are listed below.

  • Hat KFF - left brim raised to the center of the hat, Rising Sun badge attached to raised side.
  • Boots - brown
  • Socks - khaki
  • Shirt DPCU - ironed, tucked into trousers. Sleeves folded inside out, final fold length of 7- 8cm.
  • Trousers DPCU - ironed, bloused into boots.
  • Belt - black with metal treated with Brasso or similar cleaner.
  • Shoulder Flashes - these may be worn by members of specific units.
  • Commendations and Awards - AAC approved awards and commendations may be worn by eligible persons.
  • Undershirt - no undershirt is to be worn while in ceremonial dress.
  • Jumper - no jumper is to be worn while in ceremonial dress.


Certain ranks may wear additional items of uniform while in Ceremonial Parade Dress.

  • CUO - a Sam Browne Belt accompanied by a ceremonial sword
  • CDTWO1 - a pace stick, as well as a Sam Browne Belt
  • CDTWO2/CDTSGT - a red, scarlet sash

Cadets Rank System

Insignia (No insignia) (No insignia) One Chevron Two Chevrons Three Chevrons St Edward's crown surrounded by a black box Australian Coat of Arms Black wreath surrounding the Australian Coat of Arms 27.5 Chevrons in the form of a lozenge 27.5 Chevrons in the form of a lozenge with a blue centre 27.5 Chevrons in the form of a lozenge with a red centre
Rank Cadet Recruit Cadet Cadet Lance Corporal Cadet Corporal Cadet Sergeant Cadet Warrant Officer Class Two Cadet Warrant Officer Class One Cadet Warrant Officer Cadet Under Officer Regional Cadet Under Officer National Cadet Under Officer
Example of a Cadet Corporals rank patch.
  • Cadet Recruit (CDTREC) - Cadets begin their experience where they are allocated to a section which consists of their Section Commander, a Section Second-in-Command and up to eight fellow recruits. This rank has no rank insignia and wears a bush hat.
  • Cadet (CDT) - At completion of recruit training, the recruits have a graduation parade usually in July and December when the recruit marches out they are given a KFF (slouch hat), a certificate and is promoted to a cadet. After this cadets may take on other roles such as logistics after completion of their first six months of stay in a section, sometimes appointed as Section Second-in-Command. A Cadet has no rank insignia.
  • Cadet Lance Corporal (CDTLCPL) Most Commonly a section 2nd In Command a diverse variety of appointments exists. A Lance Corporal has one chevron.
  • Cadet Corporal (CDTCPL) - Most commonly a Section Commander, again a diverse variety of appointments exists. A Corporal has two chevrons.
  • Cadet Sergeant (CDTSGT) - Usually a Platoon Sergeant (also known as Platoon Commander); other positions, such as Training Sergeant, exist. A Sergeant has 3 chevrons.
  • Cadet Warrant Officer Class Two (CDTWO2) - Position is generally the Company Sergeant Major. Other existing appointments include the Operations Warrant Officer and the Training Warrant Officer, as well as Regimental Quartermaster Sergeants in large Units.
  • Cadet Warrant Officer Class One (CDTWO1) - Position exists in the AAC for Cadet Regimental Sergeant Majors. CDTRSMs are appointed in each battalion, brigade and in the case of School Based Units, an RSM may be appointed with the CDTWO1 rank where their establishment is large enough. Brigade or Regional RSMs may apply and possibly receive the position of National Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major, bearing an insignia similar to the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A), the difference being the blue tab with the words 'ARMY CADET' at the base of the rank slide, as previously mentioned.
  • National Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major (NATCDTRSM) - The NATCDTRSM is an appointment and is held by one person in Australia. The National Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major is the Warrant Officer equivalent of the NATCUO. In January 2018, CDTWO Jazmyn Coonan was appointed as the National Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major (NCDTRSM). They are the highest ranked Warrant Officer in the AAC.[5]
  • Cadet Under Officer (CUO) - Cadet Under Officer is the cadet equivalent of a junior officer although they do not receive a commission and are subordinate to all adult staff. This rank is often noted for its non-existence outside the ADFC and often confuses staff who have no experience with the ADFC. The insignia is similar to that of a large hollow diamond shape, referred to as a 'lozenge of chevronelles'. The lozenge of chevronelles outline consists of 27½ chevrons. Although the role of CUO does not warrant a commission, many CUOs have defence responsibilities in qualification to liaise between ADFC and ADF staff. Headquarters positions exist at battalion, brigade and national level, with each battalion and brigade having a Battalion/Regional Cadet Under Officer. The rank insignia for a Regional Cadet Under Officer is a lozenge of chevronelles with a blue center. [1]
  • Regional Cadet Under Officer (RCUO) - The Regional Cadet Under Officer is an appointment which is held by one cadet per state/territory.
  • National Cadet Under Officer (NATCUO) - The National Cadet Under Officer is the head cadet within the AAC for that period. Although Regional appointments such as the Regional Cadet Under Officer still hold the rank of CUO, the National appointments hold a higher rank. In January 2018, CUO Sam Elias was appointed as the National Cadet Under Officer (NATCUO). The rank insignia of the NATCUO is a lozenge of chevronelles with a red center. The NATCUO is the chairman of the National Cadet Advisory Board. The appointment of NATCUO changes on variable, yearly basis.[5]

Cadet rank slides have a blue ribbon with "ARMY CADET" written in yellow

Instructor of Cadets (IOC) Rank

Insignia No insignia 1 chevron 2 chevrons 3 chevrons 3 chevrons with a St Edwards Crown St Edwards crown surrounded by a black box Australian Coat of Arms
Rank Unit Assistant AAC Lance Corporal AAC Corporal AAC Sergeant AAC Staff Sergeant AAC
(Former rank)
Warrant Officer Class Two AAC Warrant Officer Class One AAC
Abbreviation UA
  • Volunteer Assistant — VA (no rank embellishment, although they are referred to by their respective honorific i.e. Mr, Mrs)
  • Unit Assistant — UA (no rank embellishment, although they are referred to by their respective honorific i.e. Mr, Mrs)
  • Lance Corporal (AAC) - LCPL(AAC)
  • Corporal (AAC) - CPL(AAC)
  • Sergeant (AAC) - SGT(AAC)
  • Staff Sergeant (AAC) - SSGT(AAC) - No longer attainable, but still held by some IOCs
  • Warrant Officer Class Two (AAC) - WO2(AAC)
  • Warrant Officer Class One (AAC) - WO1(AAC)

IOC rank slides have a blue ribbon with "AAC" written in yellow.

Officer of Cadets (OOC) Rank

Insignia 1 pip 2 pips 3 pips 1 St Edward's crown 1 pip and 1 St Edward's crown 2 pips and 1 St Edward's crown
Rank Second Lieutenant
Lieutenant Colonel
Abbreviation 2LT

Whilst Officers of Cadets hold the same ranks as the Australian Army, OOCs do not hold a commission.

OOC rank slides have "AAC" written on a blue ribbon

Officer of Cadet Appointments

Army Cadet Units are under command of an Officer Commanding (OC), usually of the rank Major (AAC) or Captain (AAC). Some units are big enough to be commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel (AAC), appointed as the Commanding Officer (CO). Newly appointed OOCs who are to command a cadet unit are often given a trial period. During this time rather than being referred to as a CO or OC they are termed an Administrative Commander (Admin Comd). On successful completion of the agreed trial or probationary period and completion of the OOC Command Course their appointment is changed to CO or OC as the case warrants.
Other appointments that may be held by OOC/IOCs are Quartermaster, Adjutant, Administration Officer, Training Officer, Operations Officer, as well as various other appointments that exist at Battalion, Regional and National Headquarters.


Cadets are trained mainly on Military lines similar to that of the ADF, although none of the training are "war-like" in nature. Since the corps was reinstated by the Fraser government in 1976, the Military favoured aspect of the Australian Army Cadets curriculum is what attracts youth the most as joining the military is a very common desire and ambition amongst young people. In 1996, Brigadier Mark Brewer proposed to relax the ban on 'war-like' training to allow a more balanced directive to allow basic tactical activities to be undertaken and was approved in 2001 however none of the activities promote violent or anti social behaviour.[citation needed]

There has been significant criticism of the organisation's training, with many critics citing the outdated and often ignored Training Management Plan (TMP), with the latest release dating 1997. The AAC does not hold Registered Training Organisation status and thus does not provide formal qualifications for cadets upon graduation, however, some units (particularly School Based Units (SBU)) do maintain records of attainment, or provide their own curriculum.

The 2002 revision of the TMP is currently under revision by S1 Training Development. At this stage the review intends to consolidate the training facilitation, however, critics have noted the absence of ELT (Electronic Learning Technologies) within the CadetNet system, lack of RTO status, and continued conservative war-like training. Many cadets have labeled the training revision as being passe, and consultation with units has not been conducted.[6]


Drill training encompasses all Army drill movements from Attention and Stand at Ease, to Forms on the March. Cadets also learn weapon drill, including Weapons Drill with the Small Magazine Lee–Enfield .303 Rifles, L1A1 SLRs and F88 Austeyrs' and Colour Drill .303 and SLR drill is being phased out and is only taught at unit level, since the 1996 Firearms act. CDTWO2s and CDTWO1s, who hold the position of Company Sergeant Major or Regimental Sergeant Major, perform Cane and Pace Stick drill respectively. In the case of a Cadet Under Officer, Sword Drill is performed. Many units may also have a Drum Corps, Pipes and Drums or a Band. Drum/Pipe and Band Majors carry a Mace. Drill is taught as per the Land Warfare Procedures — General [LWP-G 7-7-5] Drill Manual, 2005 and the Australian Army Ceremonial Manual, 1999, Volumes 1 & 2.


Cadets are taught all aspects of fieldcraft as appropriate to the Army, this includes; Section Formations, Camouflage and Concealment, Field Signals, Moving by day and night. Cadets are also taught basic bushcraft. This also includes cadets having to erect their own individual shelter or 'hootchies'.

First Aid

Cadets complete a basic course on first aid encompassing a small component within the TMP. This unit is not accredited and cadets are not qualified first aiders, but purely have first aid knowledge. They are taught how to treat injuries such as fractures, bites and stings and heat/cold related injuries such as heatstroke and frostbite. Cadets are taught to prevent, manage and treat injuries. They are taught how to call in a CASEVAC for emergency situations.

However, some brigades do offer Provide First Aid courses which do qualify their cadets as first aiders.


Cadets are taught navigational skills in line with the Australian Army's navigation training for all ranks. There is an emphasis on military equipment and maps. Consequently, cadets are taught to use the standard issue service prismatic compass along with the lightweight compass, protractor and standard issue service topographical survey maps. Some units incorporate orienteering and rogaining into their programs, however, the TMP does not include, nor suggest this.

Radio Telecommunications (Ratel)

Cadets are taught Radio Telecommunications skills in accordance with the Australian Army's Ratel training. Cadets are taught the use of communications equipment such as the Army Raven Radios (a low band VHF set), or simple UHF Handheld radios, and the proper processes that apply to communications in the Army. Cadets are also taught the maintenance of their radio equipment. As of late, the RAVEN series of radios are becoming more common for use in cadets.

Management Skills

See the section regarding Promotion Courses

Firearms Training

Cadets may have limited opportunity to shoot the F88 Austeyr and the F89 Minimi under army supervision. Although, most cadets will complete a ranged shoot under ADF supervision at some point in their cadet career. Two modules of training must be completed before the handling of a weapon, the first being a video and the second being supervised handling and weapon states. Additionally, training at the Weapons Training Simulation System (WTSS) is recommended but not compulsory.

Currently all .22 long rifle training is suspended for the AAC, however, in the past, cadets have attended international competitions.

Promotion Courses

Whilst policy[7] requires a cadet to complete a promotion course to attain any rank from CDTCPL to CUO/CDTWO, this policy is often interpreted flexibly, with some cadets being promoted up to and including the rank of CDTSGT without having done the course, as promotions of CDTSGT or below are decided at the individual unit OC's discretion. Promotion above CDTSGT need to be authorised at the Brigade/Regional Headquarters level.[7] Promotions courses are run by each Region for their own cadets and are generally planned by the Regional Headquarters. Permission may also be extended to Battalion Headquarters (in large regions) and individual cadet units (usually school based) to run courses, as needed, independently to that of the Regional run courses, where a Brigade/Unit will supply staff to run the course.

To be qualified to obtain the rank of Cadet Lance Corporal or Cadet Corporal, a cadet must be deemed competent on the AAC Junior Leaders' Course (JLC, previously known as the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers Course, JNCO Course). To be qualified for the rank of Cadet Sergeant, a cadet must then pass the AAC Senior Leaders' Course (SLC)[citation needed]. This was previously known Senior Non-Commissioned Officer's Course (SNCO Course), and is often today shortened to SLC. For any further promotion, a cadet must complete AAC Cadet Under Officer/Cadet Warrant Officer's Course (CUO/WOs). To be promoted to CDTWO2 or higher, a cadet must be over the age of 16,[7] however, in the past, this has not been strictly adhered to.

Senior cadets (Usually above the rank of CDTSGT) can apply to be Assistant Directing Staff (ADS) on Promotion Courses who instruct groups of cadets on courses, depending on their rank, with NCOs below the rank of CDTSGT occasionally assisting as General Duties Staff (GDS). The content of these courses is outlined by National Headquarters (HQ AAC) in the AAC's Training Management Packages (TMP), with a common list of instruction and assessment applicable to each course. The courses are held in state as follows:

  • In New South Wales, Promotion Courses have been held in such locations as Holsworthy Barracks, south of Sydney, HMAS Albatross, in Nowra, HMAS Harman in Canberra, and Centre Ridge at Lone Pine Barracks in Singleton. In April 2006, the SLC Mod 2 course was held for the first time at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in Canberra. Recent promotions courses have been run at Lone Pine Barracks.
  • In North Queensland, all promotions courses are combined into a single eight-day session held in December at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville.
  • In South Queensland, promotion courses are held at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera in Brisbane. JLC is held bi-annually during mid-January and during the June/July holidays. The week after, CUO/WOs and SLC takes place for the same time period. As of 2014, all three courses run for a duration 6 days having a break of 1 day between JLC and SLC/CUO/WOs for the staff. Cadets wishing to take part in JLC must have taken part in a suitability exam, involving a general service knowledge test which takes place during the SQLD Brigade Annual Bivouac during September school holidays.
  • In South Australia, JLC and SLC are held at Hampstead Barracks, Adelaide, and CUO/WOs Course is held at Keswick Barracks in Adelaide. Course were held in January up until 2014, December up until 2016 where it was then changed to July. There is talk about the courses being moved to the Murray Bridge Training Area however this is not confirmed.
  • In Victoria, the promotion courses are usually held at the old National Service Lines in Puckapunyal. However, between 2004 and 2006, asbestos removal was taking place at that site. Instead, they have been held at other locations, such as RAAF Williams (Laverton and Point Cook sites) and Simpson Barracks. From 2006 to 2009 CUO/WOs and SLC were held annually at the end of the year, as opposed to twice yearly before then. Since 2009 CUO/WOs and SLC have been held during mid-year holidays, instead of end of year. JLC is held bi-annually in the July and December school holidays. A second course was developed to run alongside the Victorian JLC in December at Puckapunyal; named the Cadet Leadership Development Course (CLDC) which was designed to train cadets who may have missed out on attending the so that they will be at the required skill level for the next set of courses. CLDC was renamed Cadet Development Course (CDC) in 2010. The course was conducted in VIC AAC BDE up until July 2012. As of November 2012 all three courses (JLC, SLC and CUO/WO) are held during the mid year June–July Course period, and the end of year November Course period. CDC has been subsequently removed from the training program for both of these periods.[citation needed]
  • In Western Australia, the promotion course for the JLC is held on the Annual Field Exercise at Bindoon Training Area. The SLC/CUO/WO courses are held at Leeuwin Barracks and Bindoon Training Area.[citation needed]
  • In Tasmania, the promotions courses are held at Fort Direction or Anglesea Barracks.[citation needed]
  • In the Northern Territory, the promotion courses are held at Larrakeyah Barracks. However, the Northern Territory only has the resources to run Junior and Senior Leaders' courses. Cadets are typically sent to Western Australia to complete their CUO or WO courses. These courses are held at Leeuwin Barracks and Bindoon Training Area.[citation needed]

Other Activities

Other activities that cadets often participate in are:

  • Adventure Training Award (ATA)
  • Chief of Army Cadet Team Challenge (CACTC)
  • Local ceremonial parades (e.g.: ANZAC day, Remembrance Day)
  • Army Cadet Exchange (ACE)

Army Cadet Exchange

Army Cadet Exchanges happen on a Brigade level, they are with domestic or international units. Normally, these exchanges will happen yearly, however, some happen on less frequent intervals. Generally, the exchanges will happen during the Annual Field Exercise or equivalent for international units.

Infantry Minor Tactics

Units that have an Army Liaison Officer have the opportunity to learn Basic Military Tactics. subjects may involve patrolling, reconnaissance and harbouring, Such Activities may involve an opposing force in which the opposite team have to evade or detect to put their skills to the test, these activities are supervised by competent staff who usually have a military background to ensure that these activities are done safely, older cadets who are at least 16 years old may advance towards more of these types of activities provided that they are capable and have parental consent.

Special to Unit Training

Both School Based and Regional Cadet Units may undertake training that is exclusive to their unit and is not normally part of the AAC program, for example 161 ACU Aviation have an emphasis on pilot Training. These units usually undertake unique training in lieu of a long relished tradition which began during the age of the Australian Cadet Corps as during then there was no particular central program and single service Corps Commanders decided the program.

Some units also have significant history dating well beyond that of the ADFC and the ADF as a whole. One such example includes Toowoomba Grammar School Cadet Unit (TGSCU) (entitled to drop 'A' due to its previous Air Force Unit) which celebrated its 120-year history in 2012. Toowoomba Grammar School Cadet Unit has posted a unique vigil in Toowoomba every year since 1932, which requires different training from the AAC standard. TGSCU has also been noted in developing the first training repository, which cataloged and maintained lesson plans and materials for every lesson within the TMP. TGSCU remains the longest operating unit in the AAC, which unlike older units in Australia did not close during the Whitlam consolidation.[8][9]

Annual Field Exercise

The AAC conducts an Annual Field Exercise (AFX) once every year at regional level for a duration of 1 to 2 weeks.

Levels of training for annual camps across Australia differ, but usually consists of three levels (Tiers):

  • Tier 1 (Recruit/IET)
  • Tier 2 (Proficiency)
  • Tier 3 (Advanced)

In addition, many School Based Units run their own AFX, as they have the numbers to allow them to do so. By state their AFXs are:

  • In New South Wales, AFX is held at Singleton Army Barracks. Most School Based Units have separate AFXs to the Community Based Units. Recent 22BN AFXs have included senior rank cadets of St Aloysius Cadet Unit and Knox Grammar Cadet Unit along with Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VAS) to aid in the exercise. In addition to this, the Sydney High School Cadet Unit attends AFX as part of 23BN.
  • In South Australia, AFX is returning to its previous Tier system after a short period of using a company based exercise. AFX for all three Tiers are held at Murray Bridge Training Area (MUTA), and lasts one week. Tier 1 is split into Recruit Induction and Junior Cadets. Tier 2 is split into 8 courses with them being Patrol, Signals, Medics, Engineers, Survival, Recon & Surveillance and Escape & Evasion and Robotics. Tier 3 is a stand-alone course that consists of 30 cadets. All Tier 2 courses and Tier 3 receive a specialist patch either upon completion or sometimes upon commencement.
  • In North Queensland Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 are all held in an 8-day block at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, and Mount Stuart Training Area.
  • In South Queensland Tier 1 and Tier 2 are held in week 1 and Tier 3 in week 2. Tier 3 was cancelled in 2012, and reintroduced in the same week as Tiers 1 and 2 in 2013. Tier 1 is held at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera and Greenbank Training Area. Tiers 2 and 3 are held at the Kokoda Barracks, and the surrounding Canungra Training Area.
  • In Victoria, AFX is known as Exercise EMU and is held at Puckapunyal Military Area. School Based Units typically do their AFX one week before the Community Based Units.
  • In Western Australia the AFX is held over the September-October School holidays for 1 week at Bindoon Military Training Area and Northam Training Area for some specialised courses.
  • In the Northern Territory the AFX is held in the last week of June for 1 week at Kangaroo Flats Training Area in rural Darwin.
  • In Tasmania the AFX is held during the September school holidays, lasting for one week. The AFX is held at Stony head or Buckland, each year the location is the opposite to the previous (i.e. 2009, Buckland. 2010, Stony Head).


To differentiate members of the Australian Army Cadets (AAC) from serving members Australian Regular Army (ARA), members of the AAC wear issued Royal Blue oval shaped patches on both shoulders. These patches identify the cadet as a member of the AAC, and may also provide an indication as to the cadet's home state or territory.

As of 2010, the AAC also adopted a new rank slide for those wearing the updated Near Infrared (NIR) Camouflage uniform with NATO style chest rank slide, to further differentiate them from serving members of the ARA. In place of the black AUSTRALIA written at the bottom of standard issue ARA rank slides, the cadet rank slide employs a royal blue strip emblazoned with the words ARMY CADET in yellow. OOC and IOC rank slides have the acronym AAC in place of the words ARMY CADET.

In 2013, the SA AAC BDE commander issued a statement allowing army cadets to wear the blue Australian flag velcro patch on the NIR uniform with an AusCam back ground. However, this patch must be worn on the left arm and can only be blue to differentiate ADF and cadet personnel.


In addition to being issued with a uniform, new cadets are often issued with an array of field equipment to assist cadets on field exercises.

  • Field Equipment generally consists of:
    • Webbing (or Load Carrying Equipment) Webbing has many parts, this includes the following, Steyr, Minimi, Bumbag, Canteen and Day Pack, it also has a "H-Harness" for support around the shoulders and neck, and the Green Belt/w Comforter Pad so the belt doesn't dig into a cadet's skin or hips if hiking and finally straps to hold your webbing together.
    • Field Pack
    • Knife Fork Spoon (KFS) set
    • Canteen Cup x2
    • Pan Set Messing
    • Hexamine Stove
    • Water Bottle x2
    • Jepara (Raincoat)
    • Field Shelter (Hootchie)
    • Field Boots
    • Jumpers (Woolie/Sweater/Jacket/Garrison)
    • Shirts/pants
    • Socks
    • Bush Hat
    • Viewie-Twoee(cadet clear plastic pocket display folder, usually pocket sized)

Awards and Commendations

Within the AAC, members (both cadets and staff) are eligible for Commendations for various achievements within the AAC. Commendations are given at Regional Commander AAC (Bronze), Deputy Commander AAC (Silver) and Commander AAC (Gold) level. Commendations are awarded at the discretion of their respective representative, often on the basis of a recommendation; However, some achievements warrant to the immediate presentation of a commendation. These are as follows:

  • Regional Commander AAC Commendation (Bronze):
    • Dux of the Junior Leaders Course (JLC) [Junior Non-Commissioned Officer (JNCO)]
    • Dux of a SBU JNCO/SNCO Mod 1/SNCO Mod 2 CSE
    • Member who completes the Chief of Army (CA) or Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Challenge
  • Deputy Commander AAC (DCOMD AAC) Commendation (Silver):
    • Dux of the Senior Leaders Course (SLC) [Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Module 1 (SNCO Mod 1)]
    • Member of the runner up team of the Chief of Army (CA) or Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Challenge
  • Commander AAC (COMD AAC) Commendation (Gold):
    • Dux of the Cadet Under Officer/Warrant Officer Course (CUO/WOs) [Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Module 2 (SNCO Mod 2)]
    • Dux of the Adventure Training Award (ATA) Assessment
    • Member of the winning team of the Chief of Army (CA) or Chief of Defence Force (CDF) Challenge

Note 1: "Dux" is also often referred to as "Student Of Merit"

Other Awards are:

Obsolete awards are:

  • Parachute Wings (still held by some ACS within the organisation)
  • 2006 Centenary of Cadets badge (awarded to cadets who participated in the Victorian Cadet Centenary Parade and support staff)

National Cadet Advisory Council

The National Cadet Advisory Council (NATCAC) is the link between cadets and HQ, and consists of the NATCUO, RCUOs, NAT CDTRSM and REG CDTRSMs. The NATCAC has the power to influence changes to cadet policy and is the voice of cadets at HQ. The NATCAC is chaired by the National CUO, Sam Elias, as of January 2018. Cadets of all ranks and status are effectively involved in the ongoing management of the AAC.


Generally, many of the Australian public view the Cadets program as a positive youth development program, however, political views have constantly changed throughout the years.[10] Cadets have most notably been subject to criticism because their program and structure has often resembled that of a paramilitary organisation including the adoption of military uniforms, discipline and structure unlike other youth development organisations. This was especially in the 1970s, where the Cadet movement was temporary disbanded and also resulted in the suspension and review of Military-Like Training.

In 2007, a Cadet from Scotch College Cadet Unit called Nathan Francis died from an anaphylactic reaction to a Combat Ration Pack, and it resulted in that particular brand of rations getting banned.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Defence, Australian Government, Department of; Cadets, GOLD:c=AU;o=Australian Government;ou=Department of Defence;ou=Australian Army (23 August 2016). "Australian Army Cadets — Senior Appointments and Profiles". 
  2. ^ [1] Archived 17 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Kings School Cadet Page". 
  4. ^ Newington Across the Years, A History of Newington College 1863–1998 (Syd, 1999) pp. 4–17
  5. ^ a b "AAC Standing Order — Ranks of the Australian Army Cadets". AAC Standing Orders. 2. 1 May 2015 – via Australian Army Cadets. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c Defence, Australian Government, Department of; Cadets, GOLD:c=AU;o=Australian Government;ou=Department of Defence;ou=Australian Army (16 December 2016). "Australian Army Cadets — Homepage". 
  8. ^ "Diggers get a helping hand". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Stockings, Craig (2007). The Torch and the Sword. UNSW Press. ISBN 978-086840-838-5. 

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