Home / Programs / Patron of the ADF Cadets

Patron of the ADF Cadets

In 2022 the Australian Government established the role of the Patron of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Cadets. The Patron is appointed for a two-year period and is supported by the ADF Cadets Directorate.

The Patron’s role is to:

  • be the public figurehead of ADF Cadets, supporting the growth and enhancement of the programs
  • engage with Defence, through the ADF Cadets Directorate, on issues that may arise in the course of their Patron duties
  • provide support, recognition and promotion of the cadets’ connection with the wider Australian community.

The inaugural Patron, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC (Mil) CVO MC (Retired), took up the role on 7 April 2022.

As a former cadet, Sir Peter knows the strong values, experience and mentorship the programs can provide to current and future cadets.

Sir Peter will visit cadet units throughout Australia to speak to cadets and dedicated cadet staff to support their activities and experiences.

About the Patron

Born into a military family, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC (Mil) CVO MC (Retired) first began considering a career with Australia’s defence forces when he was an Army Cadet at Waverley College, Sydney in the early sixties. He happily joined the schools more than 400-strong cadet unit, where he went on to win the Major General Chapman Cane Award for Best Cadet in Unit in 1964. Years later, that cadet unit has named an award the General Cosgrove Shield (for the most efficient Speciality in the Cadet Unit). It’s presented each year to honour the achievements of the most senior ranking officer to graduate.

Sir Peter remembers his time in cadets fondly and attributes many of his leadership qualities to the lessons he learned as a young cadet.

From high school, Sir Peter followed in the footsteps of his father and joined the Australian Army, attending Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1965. Somewhat of an underachiever through school, he continued in a similar vein at Duntroon, but there were those in higher positions who recognised that there was more to young Staff Cadet Cosgrove than initially met the eye!

Upon graduating from RMC Duntroon, Sir Peter was appointed a probationary second lieutenant in August 1968 while attached to a regular army unit, and was commissioned a lieutenant on 11 December 1968.

Sir Peter was deployed to Malaysia with 1st Battalion RAR and later to Vietnam with 9th Battalion RAR where he commanded an infantry platoon, and was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for his performance and leadership during an assault on enemy positions. He came to greater public prominence around the nation following his appointment as Commander of the International Forces in East Timor (INTERFET) in 1999 overseeing that country’s transition to independence. For his leadership in this role he advanced to the rank of Companion in the military division of the Order of Australia (AC) and was invested by Her Majesty the Queen during her visit to Australia early in 2000.

Sir Peter was the Chief of the Army from 2000 to 2002 and Chief of the Defence Force from 2002 to 2005. He then retired from active duty and went on to serve on several corporate boards before becoming the Governor-General of Australia in 2014. He was sworn in on 28 March 2014 and made a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK) on the same date. Following his retirement in 2019 Sir Peter was further honoured as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) by Her Majesty the Queen.

In retirement, Sir Peter continues to be involved with Defence, including his appointment as the Patron of ADF Cadets. He is also actively engaged with health and charitable organisations.
Sir Peter married Lynne Payne in 1976, and together they have three sons and four young grandchildren.
He is an avid sports fan with a particular interest in rugby and cricket.


  • Chief of the Defence Force (2002–05)
  • Chief of Army (2000–02)
  • Land Command Australia (2000)
  • International Force East Timor (1999–00)
  • 1st Division (1998–99)
  • 6th Brigade (1992–93)
  • 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1983–84)

Honours and awards

  • Knight of the Order of Australia (AK) (2014)
  • Companion of Order of Australia (AC) (military division) (2000); for eminent service to the Australian Defence Force as the Commander of the International Force East Timor
  • Member of the Order of Australia (AM) (military division) (1983–84); in recognition of service as Commanding
  • Officer 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment
  • Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) (2019); appointed by Her Majesty the Queen
  • Military Cross (MC) (1971); for performance and leadership in Vietnam during an assault on enemy positions
  • Australian of the Year (2001); he accepted this award on behalf of all those Australians who served in East Timor "I did a lot of the talking, they did all the working."

Patron welcome message

Inaugural Patron of the ADF Cadets, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC(Mil) CVO MC, introduced himself to the more than 28,000 cadets and their families in a video message.