Mitchell Whiteley receives the Mick Dodson and General Peter Cosgrove Scholarship for Leadership. Mitchell is sponsored by Steve McLeod (Class of 1973) John Hands (Class of 1973) and Glenn Crosland (Class of 1976).
Born in Sydney in 1947, Peter Cosgrove completed his secondary schooling at Waverley College and entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1965, graduating to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps in 1968.
His served with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) in Malaysia before being sent to Vietnam as a reinforcement. While in Vietnam he served with 9RAR and as a platoon commander at HQ 1st Australian Task Force. For his leadership and bravery under fire he was awarded the Military Cross.
In his subsequent service, he commanded 1RAR, 6th Brigade and 1st Division. He also commanded as Commandant of the Infantry Centre, the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre and the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
His service in East Timor made him an instantly recognisable figure to most Australians. In 1999, he commanded the International Forces in East Timor (INTERFET) until the force was withdrawn in February 2000 after accomplishing it mission.
On his return to Australia he briefly served at the Land Commander before promotion and appointment as Chief of Army. In the following year he was nominated as Australian of the Year and one year later he would become the Chief of the Defence Force, a position he held until July 2005.
There was no quiet retirement awaiting him. On 23 March 2006, he was selected to lead the Queensland Government taskforce for rebuilding communities damaged by Cyclone Larry, a Category 5 tropical cyclone that devastated the Innisfail region of northern Queensland. In recognition of this important contribution, Premier, Anna Bligh, announced in 2008 that a new residential suburb in the hinterland near Townsville would be named ‘Cosgrove’.
He is a Companion of Military Division the Order of Australia (AC), having previously been a Member of the Order for his service as Commanding Officer, 1RAR and has received several foreign awards.
Peter Cosgrove is now active in Australia’s business community and as a speaker. He either chairs or is a member of the boards of a number of corporations, organisations and not-for-profit foundations, including Qantas, the Australian War Memorial, the Australian Rugby Union, Foster’s Grants Advisory Committee and the General Sir John Monash Foundation. He is a published author and delivered the prestigious Boyer Lecture series for the ABC in 2009.
It relevant to today’s celebration of Indigenous Australian achievement that the Monash Foundation’s purpose is to raise funds for, and to administer, Australia’s most prestigious postgraduate scholarships – the General Sir John Monash Awards – to recognise academic excellence and leadership. Wouldn’t it be a great day when a recipient of a Podmore Foundation scholarship for secondary schooling went on to receive a Monash Foundation postgraduate scholarship.