Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel – Joint Media Release – Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force

The Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, today thanked Ms Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and her team (panel members Marian Baird, Sam Mostyn, Mark Ney and Damian Powell) for their work in completing the Australian Human Rights Commission Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), tabled in the House of Representatives today. 

In April 2011, Minister Smith announced that the Australian Human Rights Commission had agreed to the Government’s request that the Sex Discrimination Commissioner lead a team of men and women with relevant expertise to review the Treatment of Women at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the wider ADF.

The Review was conducted in two phases.

The Treatment of Women at ADFA

Phase One of the Review – into the Treatment of Women at ADFA – was tabled in Parliament on 3 November 2011.

Phase One of the Review found that there have been positive improvements in the culture at the Academy since the mid-1990s. The Review acknowledged that the experiences of both male and female midshipmen and officer cadets at the Academy are for the most part positive.

However, the Review also found widespread, low-level sexual harassment, inadequate levels of supervision, a cumbersome complaints processes and an equity and diversity environment marked by sanction rather than positive engagement.

The Review also identified areas in ADFA’s culture which could be improved and recommended improvements to issues including providing quality staffing at ADFA, management of complaints, accommodation for students and mechanisms to better manage the risk of injury to female cadets. 

The Treatment of Women in the ADF

Phase Two of the Review – into the Treatment of Women in the ADF – was tabled in the Parliament today.

Phase Two of the Review deals comprehensively with the career of women in the ADF from recruitment and retention to career choices, work-life balance practices and policies, leadership and more disturbing topics such as sexual harassment, discrimination and sexual assault.

Phase Two of the Review makes 21 recommendations covering five key principles that aim to:

  1. Actively promote a broad organisational understanding of diversity as both a core Defence value and an operational imperative linked to capability and operational effectiveness;
  2. Address the significant under-representation of women at decision making level;
  3. Increase the number of women recruited to the ADF as a whole, but also to specific occupational areas and units;
  4. Improve the level to which the ADF assists serving women and men to balance their work and family commitments; and
  5. Establish a new and more robust approach to responding to unacceptable sexual behaviours and attitudes.

The Review recognises the ADF’s attempts over the last few years to address some of these issues, notably the lack of women in leadership positions and to improve their career prospects while juggling family commitments.

The Review reflects an understanding of the particular challenges which face the ADF as a workplace and in performing its unique role.

The Chief of the Defence Force, the Service Chiefs, senior ADF officers and personnel from across the ADF have worked in close cooperation with Ms Broderick and her team in the course of the Review.

The Government and Defence have agreed in-principle to accept the recommendations of the Review.

Minister Smith has asked the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Department of Defence to determine the best way forward in formally adopting and implementing the Review recommendations.

Defence’s implementation of the Review will be the subject in twelve months’ time to an independent audit of the implementation of the recommendations, together with any further recommendations necessary to advance the treatment of women in the ADF.

The Review complements six other reviews initiated in April 2011 into aspects of Defence culture, namely: the Review of the use of alcohol in the ADF; the Review of the use of social media in Defence; the Review of personal conduct of Australian Defence Force personnel; the Review of the management of incidents and complaints; and the Review of Defence Australian Public Service women’s leadership pathways.

The recommendations of these Reviews are now being implemented within the framework of the “Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture”, Defence’s response to these Reviews published in March this year.

Phase Two of the Review also complements the removal of gender restrictions from ADF combat roles, announced by the Government in September last year, allowing women to work in any position in the ADF, including combat roles, provided they have the ability to meet the demands of the role.

The Review into the Treatment of Women in the ADF is available on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website at:

A copy of the Recommendations of Phase Two is at Attachment A.

An update on implementation of the Recommendations of Phase One of the Review is at Attachment B.

Attachment A

Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force

Principles and Recommendations

Principle 1: Strong leadership drives reform

These recommendations actively promote broad organisational understanding of diversity as both a core defence value and an operational imperative linked to capability and operational effectiveness.

Recommendation 1:

The Chiefs of Services Committee (COSC) should take direct responsibility for the implementation of the Review’s recommendations, make decisions, monitor key metrics and take corrective action.

Recommendation 2:

COSC should articulate and communicate a strong and unambiguous commitment to the effect that:

  • Targets are required to create an environment that is optimal for, and takes full advantage of, the strengths of both men and women.
  • Leaders will be held to account for the wellbeing and culture of their teams.
  • Every sexual offender and harasser will be held to account together with leaders who fail to appropriately address the behaviour.
  • Flexible working arrangements underpin capability and are an important recruitment and retention tool.
  • Women are essential to the sustainability and operational effectiveness of the ADF because they contribute to a diverse workforce which strengthens the ADF’s ability to be an effective, modern, relevant and high performing organisation.

This statement should be supported by a performance framework to ensure high performing defence environments where both men and women can thrive. The performance framework should be incorporated into all leader development, including individual performance appraisals, and formal development occurring in training organisations and recruit schools, and will be reinforced at all levels of the organisation. The consequences of non-adherence to the framework will be actioned including through limiting career advancement opportunities.

Recommendation 3:

COSC should publish a “Women in the ADF” report each year, as a companion document to the ADF Annual Report. The companion document should publically report on the progress of the implementation of the Review’s recommendations and key metrics including, but not limited to:

A. Women’s Participation

  • Number and proportion of women recruited in each Service (via ab initio, mid-career/ lateral entry, recruit to trade, recruit to area, from the Reserve and other specific recruitment initiatives)
  • Number and proportion of women in each Service and rank
  • Number and proportion of women:
    • at executive level in each service
    • in the pipeline in each service
    • in targeted occupations which are highly gender segregated
    • Number and proportion of women’s promotions by Service and at each rank
    • Gender balance on key decision making bodies within ADF
    • Retention of women:
      • Gap between men and women’s retention and separation rates
      • Number returning to work from paid and unpaid maternity and parental leave
      • Number of men and women taking career breaks
    • Measures of occupational segregation
    • Outcomes of gender pay audits
    • Number of women accessing mentoring/sponsorship.

B. Women’s experience

Gender disaggregated data from key organisational surveys including:

  • Defence Attitude Survey
  • Exit Surveys
  • Climate, Culture and Pulse surveys.

C. Access to flexible work

  • Number of men and women accessing formalised flexible working arrangements across all ranks
  • Number of applications submitted for flexible working arrangements
  • Proportion of applications for flexible working arrangements that are approved.

D. Sexual harassment and abuse

  • Number of complaints
  • Types of complaints e.g. sexual harassment, sexual assault
  • Relevant demographics of complainant and respondent e.g. work area, rank
  • Number of complaints dealt with internally:
    • Number investigated
    • Number resolved
    • Time taken from receipt of complaint to finalisation
    • Number of complaints dealt with externally:
      • Number investigated
      • Number resolved
      • Time taken from receipt to finalisation
    • Cost per complaint:
      • Internal
      • External.

This data is to be reported by Service and work location or base.

Recommendation 4:

COSC should ensure that commanding officers are accountable for a healthy organisational culture, for being regularly available to engage directly with members and for taking any corrective action as required. This includes effective management of alleged incidents of harassment, discrimination and unacceptable behaviour, managing flexible work arrangements (FWA), meeting FWA targets, and involvement in mentoring and sponsoring members. The ADF will administer regular climate surveys to assist commanding officers understand and improve organisational culture and performance. The last survey prior to the conclusion of the posting should inform the commanding officer’s Performance Appraisal Report (PAR).

Principle 2: Diversity of leadership increases capability

These recommendations address the significant under-representation of women at decision making level.

Recommendation 5:

COSC should review and redesign the custom and practice of selecting the most senior strategic leadership positions in the ADF from combat corps codes with the object of selecting from a broader group of meritorious candidates, particularly women. In this endeavour, promotions boards to senior ranks should be as diverse as possible and include at least one person external to the Service.

Recommendation 6:

In order to broaden the talent pool from which leadership is drawn, each Service Chief should identify and implement a target aimed at broadening the work background of people available to enter into leadership positions. The Service Chiefs should:

For Officers:

  • Identify all promotional gateways across the Services, including, and commensurate with Australian Command and Staff College and Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies.
  • Establish a target in Australian Command and Staff College and Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (or commensurate promotional gateways) for people who are drawn from non-warfare corps codes (with an initial focus on categories which have a higher representation of women including Supply, Logistics, Administrative or Health Service roles).

For Other Ranks:

  • Identify promotional gateways and career development opportunities that position individuals for selection to rank of Sergeant (or equivalent) and establish a target for women.

The Service Chiefs should report annually against these targets in the “Women in the ADF” Report.

Recommendation 7:

The Service Chiefs should instruct their Director General of Personnel to build flexibility into the career model, time in rank provisions, timing of and access to ‘career gates’ and career pathways to enable more flexibility in career progression. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Developing, on request, longer term career plans (i.e. more than 5 years) for personnel to allow for different life stages and changing requirements.
  • Developing joint career plans for partners who are both serving members to ensure greater family stability and career opportunities for both members.
  • Developing mechanisms that would allow people on leave, who so wish, to access training/career gate courses online to enable a person’s currency of their role to be maintained. This could also include a register of voluntary tasks or projects which, if undertaken while on leave, could be reported on for purposes of performance appraisal and therefore be put to promotions boards.
  • Reforming time in rank requirements by decoupling traditional career pathways and continuous service from promotions processes.
  •  Offering an active talent management program for high performing individuals with leadership potential who choose to participate.

Principle 3: Increasing numbers requires increasing opportunities

The following recommendations not only aim to increase the number of women recruited to the ADF as a whole, but also to specific occupational areas and units.

Recommendation 8:

To attract and successfully recruit more women, COSC should establish innovative strategies that appeal to women at different stages of their careers including:

  • A “try before you buy” option (e.g. initial commitment of 12 months) and/or removal of Initial Minimum Period of Service, including in mid-career.
  • A “recruit to area” model, where some women and men are recruited directly from the area where they will be posted for a set period, at least initially.
  • Actively facilitating the re-entry of women and men who have moved from the Reserve back into the ADF Permanent Force in order to strengthen the retention of talented people.
  • Providing incentives to Defence Force Recruiting to recruit more women.

Recommendation 9:

Each Service Chief should identify and commit to a growth target for the number of women to be recruited into their service. The Service Chiefs should report annually in the “Women in the ADF” Report on progress against the recruitment target.

Recommendation 10:

To address occupational segregation, COSC should drive and commit to a specific program to recruit and build a critical mass of women in areas that have low representation of women, appoint high performing women to key roles in these areas, ensure women are well supported in these occupations and monitor their retention and career progression. The categories include:

For Officers:

  • In Navy – Maritime Warfare Officers (Principal Warfare Officers) and Engineering (Marine Engineering and Electrical Weapons Engineering).
  • In Army – Combat Officer roles including Infantry Officers and Armoured Officers; non-combat officers including Field Artillery Officers and Engineer Officers.
  • In Air Force – Aircrew (Pilots and Air Combat Officers) and Engineering and Logistics (particularly Electronic, Armament and Aeronautical Engineers).

For Other Ranks:

  • All technical trades in each of the Services.

This includes the Services trialling:

  • Removal of the Initial Minimum Period of Service for women entering particular occupational categories.
  • A “recruit to trade” model which allows the timely intake of women into particular occupational categories, irrespective of when the next trade course commences.

Where necessary, the ADF will work with educational institutions to encourage women’s entry into these fields.

Recommendation 11:

To support the removal of gender restrictions (women in combat) COSC should:

  • Ensure that the transition program incorporates corps transfers, peer support for women, specially selected leaders and teams appropriately skilled and trained to create the conditions for mixed combat teams to perform effectively. In relation to corps transfers of women into combat units, the ADF should implement a policy of non- reduction in rank and pay. The transition program is to be reviewed regularly and evaluated based on feedback from the mixed teams and their leadership, and performance against key metrics including perceived level of support, success of integration, tenure and injury rates.
  • Ensure the environments into which women will enter are ready, appropriately briefed and trained and that the leadership and team are fully engaged and educated about how they can contribute to effective performance in mixed gender environments.
  • In the first instance:
    • Focus on one combat unit/work section/platoon/company in each Service where effective performance in mixed gender environments has been achieved.
    • Ensure that in mixed gender work sections of ten or less ADF personnel there should be no less than two women.
    • Ensure that women are clustered within the category to achieve as close to a critical mass as possible.

Communicate and share lessons learned across the Services.

Recommendation 12:

COSC should integrate and rationalise the current suite of mentoring, networking and sponsorship programs available and facilitate access to an appropriate mentor or sponsor for any member who so desires, at any stage of her/his career. A mentor or sponsor could be male or female, from within the Service, another Service or outside the ADF. Mentoring and sponsorship programs are to be based on best practice principles, and their purpose, objectives and duration of the relationship to be determined by the member and the mentor or sponsor.

Principle 4: Greater flexibility will strengthen the ADF

In order to achieve and retain a diverse workforce, where both women and men thrive, the ADF must improve the level to which it assists serving women and men to balance their work and family commitments.

Recommendation 13:

Each Service Chief should set an annual growth target for the number of flexible work arrangements (FWA) to be agreed with the CDF. This recommendation applies to both men and women. Progress against this target is to be reported annually in the “Women in the ADF” Report.

Recommendation 14:

COSC should:

  • Establish a central ADF Flexible Work Directorate, reporting to the Deputy Secretary, Defence People Group, to inform policy and best practice. Responsibilities include:
    • Monitoring progress against the growth targets of FWA.
    • Collecting tri-Service data on applications for flexible work arrangements, applications that are refused, applications that are granted, in order that there is a better understanding of and strategic assessment of flexible work arrangements across the ADF.
    • Training and educating middle managers, including NCOs on available tools and how to manage FWAs effectively.
    • Reporting to COSC on progress.
    • Direct that, within each Service, the responsibilities of the Service personnel agencies include:
      • As a priority, reviewing job design, statements of duty and team work allocation to identify those positions where full time work is the only sensible model. All others roles should be identified as potentially available in flexible work arrangements.
      • Building workforce models and personnel arrangements to increase workforce flexibility, address the negative impact of work/life balance and increase locational stability, such as fly-in/ fly-out and alternative crewing.
      • Reviewing all FWA applications in consultation with the commanding officers. For those which are rejected the application will be referred to the Director General of Personnel of each Service for review. These instances will be reported and monitored.
      • Maintaining an up to date FWA register which includes expressions of interest, information on locality, type of work and matching applicants for job sharing/FWA where possible.
      • Reporting to COSC through the Service Chiefs.

Recommendation 15:

COSC should introduce a workforce management system that enables more than one member to be posted/assigned to the same position. Such a system would enable commanders to request and, where appropriate, be provided with additional staffing to facilitate flexible work practices, such as job sharing. This reform must be widely communicated and effectively explained to all ADF members.

Recommendation 16:

COSC should ensure that, in implementing the recommendations outlined in Plan SUAKIN (part of the Rethink Reserves study into the Reserve Forces), the specific impact of the reforms on women is monitored and that any issues arising are addressed. 

Recommendation 17:

The Service Chiefs should instruct their career management agencies, as part of career planning and/or when posting decisions are made, to develop a support to posting plan for members. Such a plan should be developed in consultation and with the agreement of each member, and address issues of locational stability (e.g. back to back postings), recruitment to geographical area, schooling, child care, occasional care, emergency support, and other supports, as required. A support to posting plan should also consider ways to support flexible work arrangements across postings.

Principle 5: Gender based harassment and violence ruins lives, divides teams and damages operational effectiveness

To more fully address many of the issues raised above, the Review recommends a new and more robust approach to responding to unacceptable sexual behaviours and attitudes. The new approach, to be overseen by a dedicated Sexual Misconduct, Prevention and Response Office (SEMPRO), is about making the system more responsive to the needs of complainants. This requires that the ADF urgently investigate mechanisms that allow members to make confidential (restricted) reports of sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sexual abuse.

Recommendation 18:

As a priority, COSC should establish a dedicated Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office (SEMPRO) to coordinate timely responses, victim support, education, policy, practice and reporting for any misconduct of a sexual nature, including sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the ADF. This Office is to be adequately and appropriately staffed, including with personnel that have experience in responding to people who have been subjected to sexual harassment or abuse and is to be headed by a senior leader (of no less than one star rank or at SES level) and located at Defence Headquarters.

The Office is to be adequately resourced and report directly to COSC, and will:

  • Respond to complaints of sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sexual abuse including ensuring the immediate safety and well-being of the complainant.
  • Provide a 24 hour/seven day a week telephone hotline and online service (click, call or text access) that is staffed by personnel with expertise in responding to complainants – female and male – who report sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sexual abuse.
  • Collaborate with expert independent educators to provide recruits and trainees with interactive education on: respectful and healthy relationships, and sexual ethics; the meaning, inappropriateness and impact of sexist language and sexual harassment; the meaning of consent; the appropriate use of technology; stalking controlling and threatening behaviours; and the importance of bystander action. The effectiveness of these education and training efforts should be evaluated every two years with an external evaluator and assessed against key indicators that measure attitudinal and behaviour change. Appropriate training and education should also be provided to all members entering command positions.
  • Provide an outreach service to all ADF establishments including a rolling cycle of visits to each base every two years. This service would provide both relevant training and education and offer members an opportunity to discuss issues of concern with SEMPRO personnel.
  • Enter into appropriate arrangements with expert external service providers so as to offer complainants an alternative avenue for support and advice if the complainant does not wish to engage with the ADF’s internal complaints system. The ADF must provide adequate resourcing and assistance to these organisations to ensure that they have the capacity to provide these services and that their expertise in sexual harassment and sexual assault matters is enhanced by an understanding of the military.
  • Be the single point of data collection, analysis and mapping of all sexual misconduct and abuse matters. Prevalence, trends and key issues should be regularly reported to COSC and strategies to address any issues of concern arising from the data, implemented as soon as possible.

SEMPRO’s role should be widely advertised and promoted across the ADF so that all members are made fully aware of the reporting options and the measures to be taken to ensure confidentiality when reporting confidential complaints.

Recommendation 19:

As a matter of urgency, the ADF should investigate mechanisms to allow members to make confidential (restricted) reports of sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sexual abuse complaints through SEMPRO.

Recommendation 20:

As a matter of urgency, COSC should review all relevant policy and legislative provisions to provide for the mandatory assessment of an ADF member’s ability to perform the inherent requirements of their job if convicted of any criminal offence, and in particular any sexual offence, including but not limited to:

  • The insertion of an addition in the list of matters that must be considered in all personnel determinations and decisions in the Defence (Personnel) Regulations 2002 of the requirement that individuals must be “fit and proper persons” for service in the ADF.
  • An amendment to Regulation 87(1) of the Defence (Personnel) Regulations 2002 so that the specific reference currently found within the termination grounds for officers is also available for consideration in relation to enlisted members. Importantly, the reference should include that termination may be considered where the member has been convicted of an offence or a service offence and the Chief of the officer’s Service has certified that, having regard to the nature and seriousness of the offence, the retention of the member is not in the interests of the Defence Force.

Recommendation 21:

COSC should amend all policies addressing the waiver of Initial Minimum Provision of Service and Return of Service Obligations to ensure that a member who has made a decision to discharge from the ADF because of sexual assault or sexual harassment, is able to do so expeditiously and without financial penalty, upon production of supporting evidence of physical, psychological or emotional trauma. 

Attachment B

Implementation Update – Review into the Treatment of Women at ADFA


The Review led by the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Elizabeth Broderick, into the treatment of women at the Australian Defence Force Academy made 31 recommendations. 

Recommendations and Defence response from the Pathway to Change document 

1. The ADF leadership, including the Chiefs of Service, reaffirm ADFA’s preeminent role in the education and training of future leaders for the ADF.

Agreed in Principle. ADFA plays an important but not pre-eminent role in the education and training of future ADF leaders.

2. The CDF issue a strong statement in support of ADFA and demonstrate a visible commitment to it.


3. The CDF develop for ADFA: a) a strategic direction which clarifies ADFA’s purpose and outcomes b) an associated communication plan to inform the ADF and the Australian community.


4. ADFA develop a performance framework that incorporates the current metrics and new metrics to capture the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report.


5. The VCDF be accountable for the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report to ensure the full inclusion of women at ADFA.


6. ADFA develop and articulate a clear, unambiguous and widely disseminated statement about diversity, inclusion and gender equality which:

• recognises the fundamental importance of women to the sustainability of the

wider ADF;

• provides a framework for the creation of a diverse workplace where both men

and women can thrive;

• emphasises the unacceptability of sexual harassment, abuse and

discrimination to ADFA and the wider ADF.


7. ADFA teach equity and diversity separately from complaints procedures.


8. ADFA teach equity and diversity principles as core values underpinning ethical leadership.


9. ADFA evaluate the effectiveness of the Equity Advisers Network to strengthen its advisory capacity.


10. ADFA embed equity and diversity in all policies and practices through:

10a. ADF and ADFA senior leadership teams championing diversity and gender equality and publicly condemning all forms of sexism, sexual harassment and violence against women;

10b. ADFA introducing regular forums for all cadets and staff where female role models from within and beyond the ADF present on their experiences.


11. The VCDF develop a strategy to allow for greater engagement between the Commandant and the ADF Service Chiefs.


12. The Commander, Australian Defence College, work with the Deputy Chiefs of Service in order to achieve the following outcomes:

12a. as one of their highest priorities, the provision of high quality staff to ADFA;

12b. a stronger role for the Commandant in the selection of outstanding staff, with particular attention to increasing the representation of women;

12c. a wider pool of good educators and positive role models for cadets by considering innovative solutions, such as separating rank and role;

12d. a simplified process of removing underperforming staff and cadets to ensure expediency while maintaining due process and, in relation to the removal of staff, the least disruption to the supervision and training needs of cadets.


13. The tenure of Commandants should be for a minimum of three years and should not be reduced, other than in exceptional circumstances.


14. ADFA provide staff with appropriate induction, education and training on:

14a. gender equality and the supervision of mixed gender environments; and

14b. pastoral, disciplinary and educational practices relevant to the supervision and care of 17-23 year olds in a residential setting. Initial staff induction training should be supplemented by the creation of staff learning groups that are built on appreciative inquiry. The learning groups should be facilitated by an expert facilitator in partnership with ADFA.


15. As part of their performance reviews, ADFA staff be assessed against, among other things:

15a. their capacity to implement equity and diversity principles; and

15b. confidential feedback from cadets and peers.


16. The VCDF, in association with the Services:

16a. explore first year single service training and work placement for all ADFA cadets. Options regarding this process should be completed within 12 months of the release of this report. The preferred option should be implemented in 2013 in readiness for the 2014 ADFA intake;

16b. review the minimum entry age to ADFA to ascertain whether it is appropriate; and

16c. explore a range of cadet recruitment options for ADFA which recognise the different life course of women compared to men.


17. ADFA offer cadets a mentor, external to ADFA and from a range of backgrounds, to provide support and advice. Female cadets should be given the option to be placed with female mentors. Workplace-based mentoring programs targeting women that operate through universities, including UNSW, should be considered as a useful template.


18. As part of the ADF’s overall review of alcohol, ADFA:

18a. review the pricing regime of drinks in the cadets’ mess to minimise the risks associated with over consumption of alcohol; and

18b. commence the process of regular alcohol testing of cadets as provided by Defence Instruction (General) Personnel 15-4 Alcohol Testing in the Australian Defence Force.


19. As a priority, ADFA instruct an Occupational Health and Safety specialist to conduct a risk assessment of the residential accommodation, including bathrooms, to identify the existence and level of risk to cadets arising from mixed gender living arrangements. ADFA should implement the recommended risk minimisation strategies arising from this assessment.


20. As a priority, to address the issue of isolation and to increase supervision in the residential setting the Commandant adopt a system based on a model of Residential Advisors for each first year Division (one male and one female) who will live in the residential block to provide after hours supervision. While they may be recent ADFA graduates engaged in postgraduate study, the Residential Advisors should be outside the Cadet structure, and should have appropriate skills and attributes in leadership, and the ability to provide after hours supervision and pastoral care for cadets. They should have a direct line of report to the Commandant in the case of serious pastoral or disciplinary incidents.


21. The ADFA Redevelopment Project Committee:

21a. investigate options for suitable residential accommodation for Divisional staff within the ADFA precinct;

21b. investigate options for spaces within the residential setting which allow for better interaction between cadets, padres, medical, academic and Divisional staff; and

21c. develop a set of principles addressing women’s security and safety and promoting the better engagement between staff and cadets in the residential setting.

These principles should underpin the future master plan.


22. ADFA, in collaboration with an expert educator, provide cadets with interactive education on:

• sexual ethics, respectful and healthy relationships;

• the meaning, inappropriateness and impact of sexist language and sexual harassment;

• the meaning of consent;

• the appropriate use of technology; and

• stalking, controlling and threatening behaviours and evaluate the effectiveness of this education every two years with an external evaluator and assess it against key indicators that measure attitudinal and behaviour change.


23. ADFA review the training on making complaints of unacceptable behaviour (including sexual harassment and abuse and sex discrimination), with specific attention to creating specific modules tailored to different groups within ADFA – namely first-year cadets, more senior cadets and staff – to reflect their different responsibilities in relation to complaint/incident reporting, response and management.


24. ADFA establish and promote a dedicated, ADFA-specific, seven day, toll-free hotline for all cadets, staff, families and sponsor families. The expert operators will provide advice and referral about the most appropriate mechanism or service (ADFA, ADF or external) to deal with the complaint. In establishing the line, ADFA should draw on the protocols and policies of the Army Fair Go Hotline.


25. ADFA develop and annually administer a survey in order to more accurately measure the level of sexual harassment and sexual abuse among cadets. This survey should be followed up with a strategic organisational response by the Commandant, with feedback provided to cadets and staff to ensure that they have an investment in any reform arising from the survey results.


26. To provide meaningful comparisons, ADFA develop this survey in consultation with other Group of Eight Universities’ Residential Colleges and Halls, applicable to cadets as both military in training and university students. ADFA should consider including other single service training establishments in the development of this survey.


27. In order to record, track and manage complaints and incidents, ADFA develop and maintain, through the ADF information system, a comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date online incident system/database. This system/database should identify all relevant information relating to individual complaints and incidents of unacceptable conduct, including sexual harassment, abuse and assault and sex discrimination, including:

• name of complainant(s);

• name of respondent(s);

• date, details and nature of complaint/incident;

• all steps taken in responding to and managing the complaint / incident, including the Quick Assessment Brief and all other documentation and reports required under the relevant Instruction (e.g. reports to Defence Fairness and Resolution);

• response/resolution option adopted;

• timeframe to resolution/closure;

• feedback from complainant(s) and respondent(s); and

• any further issues arising from monitoring the implementation of the response/ resolution.


28. Reports from this database are to be reviewed by the Commandant on a monthly basis to ensure timely and appropriate actions. The Commandant should also report monthly to the Commander, Australian Defence College, on incidents, trends and identifiable concerns arising from the data.


29. In order that standards of reporting, recording and resolving incidents are properly met, ADFA should ensure the database undergoes annual quality assurance testing to determine:

29a. whether all complaints and incidents are being entered on the database and all required fields in the database are adequately completed; and

29b. whether the record keeping and reporting standards in the Management and Reporting of Unacceptable Behaviour, Management and Reporting of Sexual Offences (including Forms AC 875-1 – AC 875-3) and Quick Assessment Instructions are being met in relation to all individual complaints of unacceptable behaviour or sexual offences.


30. ADFA undertake a detailed evaluation to determine whether female cadets are more likely to become injured than male cadets and, if so, identify the causes and additional mechanisms to be put in place to manage this risk. Following this evaluation, strategies should be developed to:

30a. improve injury and health management;

30b. actively promote health and wellbeing with reference to best practice in comparable residential settings;

30c. recognise the physical capabilities of individuals commensurate with their respective roles; and

30d. eliminate stigma associated with medical restrictions.


31. In order to provide cadets with a range of support options regarding health and wellbeing, sexual or personal abuse and violence, ADFA:

31a. provide and/or display in plain view in residential and academic premises, information on key internal and external support services to cadets, including but not limited to the proposed ADFA Toll-free hotline (rec. 24), Women’s Health Services, Mensline, the Rape Crisis Centre, Lifeline and drug and alcohol counselling; and

31b. develop partnerships with key external service providers, including those that are predominantly utilised by women, to ensure that ADFA provides a holistic response to cadets’ health, wellbeing and safety needs.


Implementation update

Thirteen of the 31 recommendations have been fully implemented, as follows:

  • The VCDF is accountable for the implementation of the recommendations (Recommendation 5);
  • ADFA has developed and articulated a clear, statement about diversity, inclusion and gender equality (Recommendation 6);
  • ADFA is now teaching equity and diversity separately from complaints procedures (Recommendation 7);
  • ADFA is now teaching equity and diversity principles as core values underpinning ethical leadership (Recommendation 8);
  • ADFA has strengthened the capacity of its Equity Advisers’ Network (Recommendation 9);
  • ADFA has embedded Equity and Diversity in all policies and practices. (Recommendation 10);
  • There is greater engagement between the Commandant and the ADF Service Chiefs (Recommendation 11);
  • The tenure of Commandants is three years, other than in exceptional circumstances (Recommendation 13);
  • Residential Support Officers have been appointed to each first year Division who live in the residential block to provide after hours supervision (Recommendation 20);
  • ADFA has established a 24 hour, seven day, hotline for all cadets, staff, families and sponsor families (Recommendation 24);
  • ADFA has developed a database relating to individual complaints and incidents of unacceptable conduct (Recommendation 27);
  • Commandant ADFA reviews sensitive and serious issues on a fortnightly basis. Monthly reports are sent to Commander Australian Defence College on incidents, trends and identifiable concerns arising from the data. (Recommendation 28)
  • Cadets have been provided details of a range of support options regarding health and wellbeing, sexual or personal abuse and violence and ADFA has developed links with external support services (Recommendation 31). 

Action on the remaining 18 recommendations is ongoing.

In October, an independent audit will be conducted into Defence’s implementation of the Review into the Treatment of Women at ADFA, 12 months after the release of the Review report. 

A full copy of Phase One is at:

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