Minister for Defence – Implementation of Defence cultural reform – Pathway to Change

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today provided an update on implementation of the Defence cultural reform program, Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture and announced that implementation would be subject to enhanced Parliamentary oversight, including through an Annual Report to the Parliament by the Minister.

Reviews into aspects of Defence culture

In April 2011, in the aftermath of the so-called ‘ADFA Skype incident’, the Minister announced a range of Reviews into aspects of the culture within both the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to address ongoing concern in relation to failure to meet appropriate standards of conduct.

The Reviews included the Use of Alcohol in the ADF, Personal Conduct of ADF Personnel, the Use of Social Media in Defence, Australian Public Service Women’s Leadership Pathways in Defence and the Management of Incidents and Complaints in Defence.

The Reviews assessed the good work that had been done to date in these areas and examined what further improvements would be made.

In summary, the Reviews found that while good progress had been made over the years, there were still serious areas of weakness and more work was required to ensure Defence culture is commensurate with our nation’s modern day expectations.

Reviews into the treatment of women at ADFA and in the ADF

In addition to the Reviews into aspects of Defence culture, the Minister also announced at that time two significant reviews into the treatment of women at ADFA and in the ADF more generally to be conducted by the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Elizabeth Broderick, on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Phase One of the Broderick Review, into the Treatment of Women at ADFA, was tabled in Parliament in November 2011.
Phase Two, which considered the treatment of women in the ADF generally, and pathways for women into leadership roles in the ADF, was tabled in Parliament in August this year.

Defence has accepted all 21 Recommendations from the Phase 2 report of the Broderick Review, six in-principle and 15 in full. The entire Defence senior leadership has signed a statement committing Defence to implementing the Review’s recommendations.

Pathway to Change

Defence’s comprehensive response to these cultural Reviews, the Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture outlines how the recommendations of the reviews will be implemented consistent with the wider Defence reform programme.

Pathway to Change also builds on the institutional and personal accountability reforms in Defence to implement the Review of the Defence Accountability Framework (the Black Review) announced in August 2011. The Black Review was the first comprehensive review to examine personal and institutional accountability in Defence as a whole.

Implementation covers a series of systemic changes, as well as more immediate and specific initiatives. This includes:

  • Increasing diversity within leadership groups;
  • Fully implementing ADFA reforms to address safety and behaviour issues at ADFA;
  • Applying principles of the ADFA reforms to all new starter training institutes across Defence;

Most of these will require a 2-3 year period to fully implement and their impacts embedded in Defence’s culture.

There are over 130 recommendations in the Pathway to Change response comprising all of the recommendations from the Reviews into Defence culture and relevant recommendations from the Black Review.

To date, 33 recommendations from the Reviews have been finalised, including:

  • ADFA has developed and articulated a clear, statement about diversity, inclusion and gender equality (Broderick Phase 1 – Recommendation 6);
  • ADFA is now teaching equity and diversity separately from complaints procedures and as core values underpinning ethical leadership (Broderick Phase 1 – Recommendations 7 and 8);
  • ADFA has strengthened the capacity of its Equity Advisers’ Network and embedded Equity and Diversity in all policies and practices (Broderick Phase 1 – Recommendations 9 and 10);
  • Residential Support Officers have been appointed to each first year Division who live in the residential block to provide after hours supervision (Broderick Phase 1 – Recommendation 20);
  • ADFA has established a 24 hour, seven day, hotline for all cadets, staff, families and sponsor families (Broderick Phase 1 –Recommendation 24);
  • ADFA has developed a database relating to individual complaints and this is regularly reviewed by the Commandant (Broderick Phase 1 – Recommendations 27 and 28);
  • ADFA Midshipmen and 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 (Broderick Phase 1 – Recommendation 31).
  • The Secretary and CDF have issued a Diversity Statement and appointed a Diversity Champion (McGregor – Recommendation 1.2);
  • Women are now members of all of Defence’s most senior committees (McGregor – Recommendation 1.5);
    • Committees within Defence have been reviewed and many have been amalgamated or disestablished (Black – Recommendation 1); and
  • Plain language ‘fact’ sheets on the redress of grievance process have been produced (Earley – Recommendation 2).

The remaining recommendations are being implemented in an ongoing way.

Pathway to Change also incorporates new reforms and initiatives as they commence, including the recommendations from the Phase 2 report of the Broderick Review.

Women in Combat

In April 2011, the Government announced that Defence would bring forward for implementation the opening up of all roles in the ADF to women, including combat roles, on the basis that determination for suitability for roles in the ADF is to be based on physical and intellectual ability, not gender.

In September 2011 the Government approved the Implementation Plan for the removal of gender restrictions on Australian Defence Force combat role employment opportunities.

The plan details the steps Defence will take to enable women to meet the demands of the role, to pursue careers as Navy Clearance Divers and Mine Clearance Diver Officers; Air Force Airfield Defence Guards and Ground Defence Officers; and Army Infantry, Armoured Corps and some Artillery roles.

The plan will be implemented over five years to ensure appropriate levels of support are available for all people who choose to pursue a career in combat roles.

The implementation plan is well underway. In-service applicants will be entitled to apply for a career in a combat role from January 2013, provided they meet all requirements and subject to course availability and vacancies.

Parliamentary oversight

Ongoing implementation of all of these reforms is critical to ensuring that Defence’s culture meets modern day standards.

As the Pathway to Change document states, the suite of Reviews remind us that “we need to ensure our people demonstrate exemplary behaviour commensurate with the nation’s expectations, in and out of uniform, on and off duty”.

To ensure that ongoing implementation of these essential reforms receives the highest levels of oversight, the Minister for Defence will on an annual basis provide a report to the Parliament on Defence’s implementation of the reform program.

A summary of each of the reviews and key outcomes is attached. A full list of the findings and recommendations of each report is attached to the Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture document available at:

Media contact: 

Andrew Porter (Minister Smith) 0419 474 392

Summary of each of the reviews

The review of the use of alcohol in the ADF

Professor Margaret Hamilton, an executive member of the Australian National Council on Drugs, led an independent panel to review the overall strategy for managing the use of alcohol in the ADF.

Immediate and specific initiatives include:

  • The preparation of an evidence-based alcohol management strategy for implementation within Defence;
  • Defence to ensure that the pricing of alcohol available at Defence establishments is consistent with the alcohol management strategy;
  • Developing an approach to collecting and responding to alcohol related data to enhance its value in terms of managing individuals and strategic planning; this will include alcohol screening of individuals at recruitment and across important career transition points, particularly post-deployment, and a whole of ADF Alcohol Incident Reporting System;
  • Commanders to assess situations in which alcohol is proposed to be used informally or formally and where specific approval would then be required for the use and access to alcohol within ADF work location; and
    Defence to form alliances and partnerships with other organisations and individual experts on alcohol outside Defence to provide their input into alcohol policy and program development and implementation.

The review of personal conduct of ADF personnel

Major General Craig Orme led this review with a focus on assessing the effectiveness and current policies governing ADF conduct, and identifying areas of strength and weakness.

The ADF Personal Conduct Review recommends a culture that is just and inclusive.

The Australian Defence Force will more explicitly state values and behaviours on enlistment, and reinforce them through education and practice.

The Navy, Army and Air Force will continue to improve avenues of communication for members to report concerns about personal conduct through the formal chain of command and through confidential methods of reporting.

The review of the use of social media in Defence

Mr Rob Hudson, from the external consulting company George Patterson Y & R, led a team to examine the impact of the use of social media in Defence, with the aim of developing measures to ensure that the use of new technologies is consistent with ADF and Defence values.

Immediate and specific initiatives include:

  • All policies relating to the use of social media, the internet or cyber activities to be reviewed, including guidelines being reviewed to ensure they are consistent with the overall social media policy and engagement principles;
  • Defence should consider reviewing social media training and the way it is prioritised and delivered in order to ensure consistency, including relevant resources, guidelines and support mechanisms; and
  • Resources will be provided to support the understanding and management of social media in Defence.

The review of Defence Australian Public Service women’s leadership pathways

The review into Defence as an employer of women was led by the former Deputy Public Service Commissioner, Ms Carmel McGregor, who examined the effectiveness of current strategies and proposed recommendations across a range of issues regarding employment pathways for Defence APS women.

Ms McGregor has subsequently been appointed to the position of Deputy Secretary People Strategies and Policy in Defence.

Immediate and specific initiatives include:

  • The Secretary to issue an explicit statement to senior leaders and staff to reinforce the importance of gender diversity to build a sustainable workforce;
  • The establishment of a rotation program for senior women at Senior Executive Service Band 2/3 with the broader APS;
  • Ensure female membership in senior decision-making bodies;
  • Implement a development program for Executive Level women that includes job rotation, as well as over-representing women in existing development programs;
  • Embed a focus on identifying and developing women for leadership roles, including a facilitated shadowing and coaching component, in the new talent management system;
  • Establish a central maternity leave pool for central management of the full-time equivalent liability associated with maternity leave.

The review of the management of incidents and complaints

The Inspector General ADF, Mr Geoff Earley, conducted a review of the management of incidents and complaints in Defence, with specific reference to the treatment of victims, transparency of processes and the jurisdictional interface between military and civil law.

Immediate and specific initiatives in response to the review include:

  • Funding to be provided as a matter of priority to contract out the task of reducing the current grievance backlog of cases to suitably qualified legal firms;
  • Training and information to be provided to ADF members in relation to the management of incidents and complaints will be simplified and improved;
  • Defence’s administrative policies to be amended to provide for administrative suspension from duty, including the circumstances in which a Commander may suspend an ADF member and the conditions which may be imposed on the suspended member; and
  • An improved process to manage grievances in Defence will also be developed.

Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force

Ms Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and her team (panel members Marian Baird, Sam Mostyn, Mark Ney and Damian Powell) conducted the Australian Human Rights Commission Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The Review was conducted in two phases.

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.

Phase Two of the Review – into the Treatment of Women in the ADF – was tabled in the Parliament in August 2011.

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

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


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