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Jamie Cullens Writing Competition

Welcome to the Jamie Cullens Writing Competition (JCWC) guidelines page. Entries for the 2024 competition have now opened!  You may submit your entry using the JCWC Submission Form.

Entries will close at midnight, on the 23rd of August 2024. 


The JCWC encouraged written submissions across five categories:

  • Essays
  • Persuasive Articles and Opinion Pieces
  • Short Stories
  • Poems
  • Graphic Novels


Authors should not have previously published any work more substantial than a paper (i.e. not a monograph or a book). Submissions should be new work (not previously published nor submitted as part of coursework) however they may incorporate ideas synthesised from previous papers with appropriate references.


Contributing authors may write on a topic of their choice related to leadership, ethics, character and culture in Defence, or for 2024 write on one of the following topics:

  • Most failures in leadership are failures in character, not failures in competence. What does this mean to you?
  • The overwhelming majority of our sailors, soldiers, aviators and civilians are motivated. They want to make a meaningful contribution and to know that their effort matters. It will not always feel like this. Is this consistent with your experiences of leadership?
  • Artificial intelligence, technologically enhanced combatants, lethal autonomous systems, cyber-conflict and information operations are just some of the areas that will have deeply challenging ethical dimensions. What could these dimensions be?
  • Members of the profession of arms know better than anyone the challenges of working in culturally complex environments, both at home and abroad. What are these challenges?

Please note that you are not required to use the above prompts. There will be neither an advantage nor a disadvantage applied to those who do not choose to use the above writing prompts. They are provided simply as examples of the themes and topics that you might consider.

If you choose not to use the prompts above, please ensure that your work addresses leadership, ethical, character or cross-cultural considerations in an individual Service, the ADF, operational context or the broader Department of Defence.

Submission Length

Submissions are to meet the following criteria:

Essays3,000 words (+/- 10%)
Persuasive articles and Opinion Pieces1,500 to 2,000 words  (+/- 10%)
Short Stories1,500 to 3,000 words  (+/- 10%)
Poemsany length
Graphic Novelsany length

Submission Format

Please submit contributions using an unprotected Microsoft Word document. Submissions are to be in English.

Ensure that you acknowledge all sources with full references and use quotation marks when transcribing material. Please refer to the Defence Writing Manual for formatting citations.

The Use of Artificial Intelligence in Writing

The JCWC does not ban using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the writing process. It can be useful in the research phase of content creation, and the degree to which generative AI is being integrated into various products is making it difficult to avoid.

The use of AI in any aspect of the writing/production process must be acknowledged as part of your submission, and the degree of usage must be stated unambiguously.

AI should not be used to write the whole submission, nor should it be used to write significant portions of the submission. AI is not perfect. It can result in ‘soulless’ prose, and in a research setting it has been known to provide inaccurate or even completely false information presented as facts (this is called ‘hallucinations’). Never take AI content at face value.

Any attempt to hide the use of AI in the creation of a submission, or presenting a fully AI-generated submission as your own work, is considered plagiarism and will result in the rejection of your submission.


The Forge, which will host the winning entries, is an OFFICIAL limited site, and you should be mindful of any sensitivities in your contribution. If you identify any sensitivities, the onus is on you to obtain appropriate approval before submission and to highlight those sensitivities to The Forge with your submission.


All works will be judged by a panel consisting of Defence experts and academic specialists in the field of leadership, character, culture and ethics.

Terms and Conditions of entry

Please note that when submitting your entry to the JCWC must check the I agree to the Terms and Conditions checkbox. Please review all of following the Terms and Conditions before submitting your entry.

  1. I certify that I am a member of the ADF or an employee of the Australian Defence.
  2. I hereby declare that the submission entered in the JCWC is my own work, has not been previously published or awarded, is not currently on offer to another publication, or prize and will not be offered until the announcement of the competition winner.
  3. I accept as final the judgement of the assessment panel appointed by the Commander of the Australian Defence College to judge the competition.
  4. As a condition of entering this competition, I hereby assign the Commonwealth, its affiliates and sub-licensees an exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable and sub-licensable right to use, broadcast, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish and display my essay for any purpose, including but not limited to future promotional, marketing or publicity purposes, in any media, without compensation or restriction on use.
  5. I hereby consent to the Commonwealth using my name, likeness, image and/or voice (including photograph, film and/or recording of the same) in any media (including social media) to the extent necessary for promotional purposes.
  6. I warrant that I have truthfully reported any use of Generative AI on the submission form. 
  7. I have read all the contributor guidelines for the JCWC and agree to abide by them.


Book gift cards will be awarded for first, second, and third place in each category. Honourable mentions will also receive a book gift card.

Commander Australian Defence College reserves the right to not award a prize in any category for whatever reason.

Winning works will be published on The Forge or in hard copy at the discretion of the Australian Defence College. The Forge reserves the right to edit and adapt content as necessary for accuracy, comprehensiveness and audience experience. This may include adding or editing images, the title, headline and blurb to promote the content.

Content provided by

Australian Defence College Crest
Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics (CDLE)
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The Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics is responsible for providing specialist advice, education and research to advance command, leadership and ethics for the Department of Defence.

The Centre is located at the Australian Defence College, Weston Campus in the Australian Capital Territory.

The Centre delivers a range of specialist services for managing, developing and promoting command, leadership and ethics education, publications and doctrine. It guides the Joint Professional Military Education requirements in this area for single service, joint education and individual training environments.