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Address on the occasion of the presentation of The Duke of Edinburgh's Banner to the Australian Army Cadets.

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• Brigadier Neil Miller, Commander Australian Army Cadets, and Mrs Miller • The Honourable Teresa Gambaro, representing the Prime Minister, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence • Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston, Chief of the Defence Force, and Mrs Houston • Mr Robert McClelland, Shadow Minister for Defence • Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, Vice Chief of the Defence Force, and Mrs Gillespie • Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, Chief of Army, and Mrs Leahy • Mr Alen Madden, representing the traditional land owners, the Eora Nation • Distinguished guests • Cadets

• Ladies and gentlemen

  I am delighted to be here this afternoon on this very special occasion and I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we're gathered. The presentation of the Duke of Edinburgh's Banner today seems a most fitting way to begin celebrations in the lead up to the Australian Army Cadets centenary in 2006.   The original banner was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony here at Victoria Barracks on 2 May 1970. As Colonel-in-Chief of the Australian Cadet Corps (as it was then known), he expressed great pleasure in presenting his personal banner to the cadets on parade.    He entrusted the Corps to keep the banner safe, treat it with respect and to carry it on all significant occasions throughout the Commonwealth. His wishes have been honoured, and the old banner will now be conveyed for lying up at the Royal Military College, Duntroon.   The enduring popularity of Cadets in Australia over the past century is testament to its value both in youth development and in enhancing the relationship between Defence and the civil community.   As a boy my school cadet unit had a significant and lasting influence on my own life. I remember it was an excellent unit where we did a lot of parade drill, learnt to strip and assemble the Bren light machine gun blindfolded and were issued with .303 Lee Enfield rifles of World War I and II fame, which were as tall as some boys and which we were actually allowed to take home (minus the bolt of course). We had a smart uniform, including skill expertise badges. We boys used to think our uniform impressed the girls, but I don't think it did.   Going to Northam Army camp in country Western Australia was an experience. We would march back to our old WWII huts at night, striking sparks on the road with our hob-nailed boots. We would sleep next to our rifles and share the communal showers, dunking our feet in Condy's crystals on the way out.   I have fond memories of the smell of those army blankets on beds made of straw palliasses, of the

bubble and squeak for breakfast, of the crack and kick of those first exciting rifle shots with a .303, the

bush navigation exercises and the rigours of the obstacle course. I still have at home in pride of place my Champion Shot of the West Australian Cadets trophy which I won as captain of my school cadet shooting team in 1954.   I remember the names of all my Army regular Warrant Officer instructors because they were splendid teachers and magnificent leaders to we young cadets.   It was all great fun, and ultimately, because of my cadet experience, I chose to become a Royal Military College Duntroon cadet at the age of 16.  This led to 38 years of a wonderfully interesting, challenging and exciting service life, living in many countries such as Malaya, Borneo, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom. As Governor-General I have resumed that happy relationship with the Australian Defence Force as its Commander-in-Chief.   My experience is not unique.  In fact, around one in four senior officers in our Defence Force began their careers in Cadets. Cadet organisations have always been among the ADF's most valuable recruiting resources.  Cadets provide a source of talented, educated and intelligent young Australians, of whom around 90% will consider a career in the Defence Forces and some 50% will apply. These days, cadets comprise approximately 40% of all Australian Defence Force Academy entrants; a remarkable figure when we consider that cadets represent only one percent of their age group population.   Defence Force Cadets clearly makes a significant contribution to the ADF.  But equally importantly, Cadets is an excellent youth development organisation. The friendships, self-confidence, willingness to help others and the life skills one develops through Cadets will stand you all in good stead in the future.   Cadets are a powerful influence and shaper of character. As a cadet you are trained to better deal with challenges and to seize opportunity. Above all, these qualities provide the foundation of a values system based on mutual respect, compassion, integrity, loyalty and personal and group discipline.   As I look out over this parade I am delighted to see such a fine body of young Australians representing the 24,500 ADF cadets being groomed as tomorrow's potential leaders. Our society needs many more young people like you; confident, active, involved and simply willing to 'have a go'.   I strongly believe that involving more young Australians in cadets or similar organisations and activities—such as sport clubs, youth groups and mentoring programs—would go far towards addressing many of the social, health and welfare problems affecting some of our young.   Indeed it is a proven fact and for obvious reasons. What a great thing it would be if every young person from 12-17 had the opportunity to belong to a well-led, well-resourced youth group like the cadets, and if there was also a national data base recording the type, location and contact details of every youth group in the country. Perhaps a major computer or IT company might like to take this up as their voluntary contribution to society.   I note that you can fund about 300 cadets per year for the cost of locking up a young person for the same time.   To those members of the Australian Army who actively support Cadets, I thank and commend you. I also salute the school principals, community groups and parents who support school and regional cadet units in a variety of ways. You are carrying out a wonderful community service in so doing.   Today's parade is a splendid endorsement of the total Cadet concept, and I congratulate the Australian Army Cadet Corps on receipt of its new Duke of Edinburgh banner. Always treat it with the honour and respect that is its due.   Thankyou.