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Officers came from teaching staff and selected cadets were made "Cadet Lieutenants".In 1939, the outbreak of World War II caused the Regimental Detachments to be disbanded as staff were needed to train soldiers for overseas service.Under the scheme, all medically fit males 14–18 years of age had to serve in cadets.Boys who did not comply were charged and dealt with by the courts. Senior cadets aged between 16–18 years of age were attached to Militia Units (now known as Army Reserve Units), called Regimental Detachments, while students aged between 14–16 years of age remained as school cadets.However, its members are not members of the Australian Defence Force by virtue only of their membership of the Australian Army Cadets.
It differs from Scouts Australia and other youth exploration groups as its main focus is that of learning and using military and leadership skills.
Research studies have shown that cadets have performed better than non-cadets in Australian Defence Force Training, and 25.4% of the Australian Defence Force has been in the Australian Defence Force Cadets.
From 2001 to 2005, cadets have made up 10% of applications and 11% of total Australian Defence Force enlistments.
In 1869, the Newington College Cadet Corps was formally incorporated by the Governor of New South Wales (Somerset Lowry-Corry, 4th Earl Belmore) and that unit is now believed to be the second oldest continually running corps in Australia, after The King's School Cadet Corps.
With the establishment of many cadet units and corps at numerous boys schools throughout the Commonwealth, His Majesty King Edward VII established the Commonwealth Cadet Corps in Australia on 16 July 1906.
Uniforms, transport, rations and personal equipment all had to be funded by the school, parents or community organisations such as the RSL.