Our History

In 1991, the Australian Department of Defence introduced the Commercial Support Program, aimed at undertaking competitive tendering and contracting to ensure that support services were provided to Defence in the most cost effective manner.

With many years of experience in supporting governments across the developed world to sustain and improve public services, Serco Australia prepared to tender for one of the first contracts for the provision of those support services to the Department of Defence at the Puckapunyal Military Area in Victoria.

1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Serco Gardner Merchant Joint Venture

The first Serco Gardner Merchant (SGM) contract office is established and preparations commence to start the first Defence support services contract.


Base Services commence at the Puckapunyal Military Area and Fortuna Barracks in Victoria with 500 staff.

Sodexho Alliance

Gardner Merchant forms a partnership with Sodexho Alliance, a leader in food service provision and SGM becomes Serco Sodexho Defence Services (SSDS).

RAAF Base Williamtown

Originally a Serco contract, the base takes on mess services and RAAF Williamtown becomes part of the SSDS family.

SSDS in New Zealand

SSDS wins a three year contract with the New Zealand Defence Force at RAAF Base Woodbourne providing base services and infrastructure warehousing.


In an important milestone, SSDS wins the first multi-site contract. South East Queensland consists of 6 major bases and employs over 700 staff. Services are now called Garrison Support Services.

Operation Safe Haven, Sydney Central, NQ, NTK

SSDS supports the Kosovo and East Timor refugee crises at Puckapunyal. Multi-site operations commence in the Sydney Central, North Queensland and Northern Territory/Kimberley regions.

Sydney West South

A successful rebid for the Sydney West South Region. Aviation Fire fighting is introduced as a critical support service and SSDS employees 55 Fire fighters and invests in significant resources and equipment for the protection of rural, range and airport infrastructure.

Business growth

National product managers are introduced in Hospitality, Cleaning and Grounds, to provide specialist advice and support. Standardisation is introduced to the company's operations and services to the frontline.

Shoalhaven Bushfires

Bushfires in the Shoalhaven area see 500 evacuees from nearby homes and camping grounds take shelter at HMAS Creswell.

Chairman's Recognition

The team at HMAS Creswell in the Sydney West South region wins an international Serco Chairman's Award for category for their efforts in supporting Camp Quality's annual Christmas camp for the past 10 years.

Sydney West South rebid

SSDS successfully re-tenders for the SWS region. Additional sites Liverpool Military Area at Moorebank, consisting of Steele Barracks and Holsworthy Barracks.

ACT/SNSW, National Clothing Stores

SSDS secures the contract for the unique and high profile, ACT/Southern New South Wales region as well as the National Clothing Stores contract resulting in SSDS having a presence at 52 Defence sites in Australia.

CNNSW, NTK, Star Performers

Successful rebids for Central Northern New South Wales, now including Singleton Military Area, as well as Northern Territory/Kimberley. Introduction of the SSDS Star Performers Employee Reward and Recognition program.

Sodexho becomes Sodexo

Sodexho announces an evolvement of their brand identity and SSDS re-brands to become Serco Sodexo Defence Services.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI visits RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Richmond.

NQ Base Services

SSDS begins base services in North Queensland including a 24/7 Base Services Support Centre.

Central Qld

North Queensland welcomes the Central region to the contract with sites at Rockhampton, Gladstone, Mackay, Dysart, Emerald, Blackwater, Biloela and the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA).

Royal Visit

SSDS prepares for a visit to the Royal Military College Duntroon from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen presents new royal colours to the Corps of Staff Cadets in a ceremony also known as the Trooping of the Colours, before 5000 visiting military, dignitaries and invited guests.

Base Services Reform Program

Defence announces its intention to proceed with the Future Acquisition Strategy and Base Services Reform Program (BSRP) signalling an opportunity to assist Defence to achieve their objectives and to continue to grow and improve the SSDS business.

20th Anniversary

SSDS prepares to celebrate 20 years of service, pride, honour and excellence in our history, achievements and support to the Australian Defence Force.

As specialists in maintenance and technical services, Serco partnered with Gardner Merchant, a leader in food service provision, to submit a comprehensive tender response. Serco and Gardner Merchant successfully tendered for the Puckapunyal contract and shortly after, in 1993, the joint venture, Serco Gardner Merchant was formed.

Just two years later, in 1995, Gardner Merchant forged a partnership with Sodexho Alliance, a company that had a long and proud history as a world leader in food and facilities management services. This alliance resulted in Serco Gardner Merchant becoming Serco Sodexho Defence Services (SSDS).

In 2008, following the evolution of their brand, Sodexho became Sodexo and has evolved to be a world leader in the provision of services that improve the quality of daily life.

Today, the Serco and Sodexo partnership remains strong. This strength has contributed to SSDS building a wealth of expert capability in the Defence industry and a reputation as a trusted partner to Defence.