General David Hurley AC

Honorary Doctor of Letters

Citation delivered by Melva Crouch CSM, Chief Administrative Officer at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of General David Hurley AC DSC as a Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) on 17 December 2013.


In July 2011, David Hurley was promoted to the rank of General and appointed as the Chief of the Australian Defence Force. With around 80,000 personnel under his command (including reservists) and a budget of over $25 billion, he is managing one of the largest business operations in Australia.
David Hurley is a local boy made good. The son of Norma and James Hurley, an Illawarra steelworker, he grew up in Port Kembla and attended the local high school. David wanted to be an archaeologist but knew that education through the military made good financial sense. He later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma in Defence Studies.
General Hurley has had an outstanding military career. Graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon into the Royal Australian Infantry Corps, he served in the Royal Australian Regiment and early in his career went on an exchange with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards of the British Army. General Hurley served in Malaysia as a Mechanised Infantry Adviser with the Australian Army Project Team Malaysia, and as a Lieutenant Colonel commanded the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, during which time he led the battalion group for Operation SOLACE in Somalia. Following this command appointment, General Hurley attended the United States Army War College, returning to a posting as Military Secretary to Army. Promoted to Brigadier in 1999, he assumed command of the 1st Brigade in Darwin, overseeing its transition to operational readiness and support of Australian-led operations in East Timor.
General Hurley has served as Director General Land Development, Head Capability Systems and Land Commander Australia. At the end of 2003 he was promoted to Lieutenant General as Chief of Capability Development Group, and in 2007 he was appointed Chief Joint Operations Command. He became Vice Chief of the Defence Force in 2008.
General Hurley has received several honours and awards, nationally and internationally, among them the Distinguished Service Cross for his service in Somalia during Operation SOLACE, an Order of Australia in 2004 for distinguished service, leadership and management, the Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the Australian Defence Force in 2010 and the United States’ Commander of the Legion of Merit in 2012.
To get an idea of the variety of responsibilities the Chief of the Defence Force has, one only has to look at General Hurley’s Facebook page. In July, together with Indonesia’s Head of Defence Facilities Agency, he signed a Memorandum of Sale for five aircraft to be used in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations; in October he supported the ADF Mental Health Day and in November he made an emotional visit to Afghanistan with the families of Australia’s fallen soldiers to take part in a ceremony at the Multi-National Base in Tarin Kot - in his own words ‘the most important visit I will ever make as Chief of the Defence Force’.
In his career, General Hurley has travelled widely and reached the pinnacle of his profession, but he remains dedicated to his fellow service men and women and to the challenges and obstacles they face at home and overseas. Reflecting on his four-decade military career at the Illawarra Connection Dinner last year, General Hurley credited his success to the multicultural society he grew up in in the Illawarra and a great education. In return, he has raised the profile of this region across the country, leading Australia’s 80,000 defence personnel and providing inspiration to Australians from all walks of life.
Chancellor, in recognition of his distinguished career and significant service at the national and international level, it is my pleasure to present General David Hurley with the award of Doctorate of Letters honoris causa.