The Role of the WA Defence Advocate

How Canberra centred advocacy will benefit WA’s Defence Sector

By Rear Admiral (Rtd) Raydon Gates AO CSM | 09 December 2017

I was appointed to my role as Western Australia’s first Defence Advocate in August 2017.

I see my role as being the eyes, ears and voice in Canberra, on behalf of the State and the WA defence industry.

In the first months of my appointment, I’ve listened and learned.

This is important, because WA has not previously had this level of participation within Government to pursue opportunities in the defence sector.

That is not a criticism of previous governments, but simply an acknowledgement of the will of the current government to actively pursue opportunities to both support the Australian Defence Force in achieving its objectives, and create jobs for Western Australians.

During my most recent visit to Perth last December I attended a number of meetings with industry, government, and academia as part of my ongoing work to obtain a firsthand look at local capabilities and capacities, and to discuss the next steps to increase local defence participation.

During this visit, Edith Cowan University held its annual Security Congress, providing me with an opportunity to tour the university’s world class cyber security facilities.

ECU’s Joondalup campus was recently confirmed as the site of the Joondalup Innovation Hub, supported by the State Government’s $16.7 million New Industries Fund.

This is an area of real strength and capability in WA, and there is a clear connection between cyber security, defence and national security agencies, and I look forward to seeing collaboration at this new Innovation Hub.

I also undertook a tour of South Metro TAFE, which delivers training to the Royal Australian Navy through satellite facilities at HMAS Stirling.

South Metro TAFE is actively involved in delivering programs to increase the skills and capacity of local industry, in order to provide support and sustainment to defence.

While media and political focus is on the physical delivery of naval shipbuilding programs, my engagements here in WA have proved to me the vast array of opportunities across the whole defence sector, in areas such as education, research and development, and technology.

Since my appointment, I have also dedicated time to working with the team at the Office of Defence West, and sharing some of the knowledge accrued in my lengthy career both in and out of uniform.

In the coming year, I look forward to being involved in shaping the State Defence Strategy, and assisting Defence West to identify the opportunities for WA within the Department of Defence’s Integrated Investment Program.

While I am based in the eastern states, I am a proud Western Australian, and I am honoured to be able to devote the latter part of my career to furthering the interests of our State’s defence sector.

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About Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe

Serge has an extensive professional background with high-profile appointments specialising in corporate social responsibility, market research, management, and over a decade of experience working in the defense sector. As the editor of WA DEFENCE REVIEW, Serge facilitates a much-needed voice for Western Australia's defence sector, providing an independent communications and events platform that promotes industry collaboration, and interprets news and developments with an eye to analysing the implications for WA and Australia as a whole.