The legacy of cadet training at Ballarat College

1900 Ballarat College cadets.

Cadet training was integral to the Ballarat College curriculum, leaving an indelible impact on students and the community. Mandated by the Defence Act of 1910, cadetship became compulsory for young Australian boys aged 12 to 18. By 1912, College students were drilled in weapons used by teachers who had been trained by the military, many of whom also enlisted when war broke out.

1913 Ballarat College cadets.

Cadet activities on campus and at camps at Ballarat College became synonymous with discipline, readiness and community spirit. Annual events like the South Street Cadet Competition drew large crowds, showcasing students’ proficiency in drills and military skills to enthusiastic audiences.

1955 Ballarat College cadet camp, Mildura.

1968 Ballarat College cadet officers.

1968 Ballarat College cadet ceremony at Sturt Street campus.

In 1972, amid changing societal norms, Ballarat College leadership made cadet membership optional, offering community service as an alternative. This transition preserved the ethos of service and preparedness that cadet training instilled. The curriculum adapted to include modern techniques such as weapon handling, first aid and tactical maneuvers, ensuring students were well-rounded in military education.

By 1973, the cadet program had concluded at Ballarat College, marking the end of an era that shaped generations of leaders. However, its legacy endures through the values of leadership, discipline and community service that continue to resonate among alumni. Cadet training remains a significant part of Ballarat College’s history.