Minister for Defence – Treatment of women in the ADF

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today gave an update on the Defence response to Phase 2 of the review into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) conducted by the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Elizabeth Broderick, on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

In April 2011, in the aftermath of the so-called ‘ADFA Skype incident’, the Minister announced two significant reviews into the treatment of women at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and in the ADF more generally to be conducted by Ms Broderick.

Phase One of the Broderick Review, into the Treatment of Women at ADFA, was tabled in Parliament in November 2011.  Implementation of the 31 recommendations of Phase One is being progressed through the Defence cultural reform program, ‘Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture’.

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.  

In August, the Minister said that the Government and Defence had agreed in-principle to accept the recommendations of the Review.  The Minister also said that he had 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.

Today, the Minister announced that Defence has accepted all 21 Recommendations from the Phase 2 report of the Broderick Review, six in-principle and 15 in full. 

Key measures to be implemented to address the recommendations include:

  • The establishment of a dedicated Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office to coordinate timely responses, victim support, education, policy, practice and reporting for any misconduct of a sexual nature, including sexual harassment and abuse;
  • Implementation of restricted reporting, so that personnel can make confidential reports of sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sexual abuse (which was also recommended by the DLA Piper Review);
  • The introduction of Waivers for Initial Minimum Provision of Service and Return of Service Obligations for victims of sexual assault/ harassment, so they can discharge from the ADF expeditiously and without financial penalty;
  • Increasing diversity on promotion boards and selection for most senior positions;
  • Introducing growth targets for recruiting women; and
  • The production of an annual ‘Women in the ADF’ report to report on implementation of the Reviews’ recommendations and related initiatives.

A full list of Defence’s response to Phase 2 of the Broderick Review is attached.

The Defence senior leadership has signed a statement committing Defence to implementing the Review’s recommendations (also attached).

The Defence statement is expressly stated by the senior leadership as not open to negotiation.  It commits 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 enhance 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.

Implementation of Phase Two of the Broderick Review will be incorporated into Pathway to Change and will be subject in 2013 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 into the Treatment of Women in the ADF is available on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website at:


A.     Defence response to the Phase 2 report of the Broderick Review

B.      Defence leadership statement

Media Contact:

Andrew Porter (Minister Smith) 0419 474 392

Attachment A

Defence Response to the Review into the Treatment of Women in the ADF – Phase 2 Report

Rec Recommendation Short Title Agreement Explanation of ‘agreed-in-principle’ considerations
1 Responsibility for implementation: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.  Agreed-in-principle Agreement in principle regarding COSC’s critical role in implementing Review recommendations. Other committees also have implementation responsibility, noting that Phase 2 Report recommendations are integrated with the overarching Pathway to Change strategy and governance.Accordingly, in addition to the critical COSC involvement, under the governance arrangement for Pathway to Change, Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force Advisory Committee (SCAC) and the Defence Committee (DC) are responsible for overseeing the implementation strategy, including the referral of Defence-wide recommendations to SCAC.
2 Commitment to implement Agreed  
3 Annual ‘Women in ADF’ report Agreed  
4 Commanding Officer accountabilities:Commanding officers (COs)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). Agreed-in-principle Full agreement to hold COs accountable for upholding a healthy organisational culture for, being regularly available to engage directly with members and for taking any corrective action as required (as detailed in Rec 4).Agreement in principle regarding the need to formally assess organisational climate/culture and linkages to supervisor performance and assessment.The application and administration of specific ‘climate surveys’ requires further consideration, noting efficiencies/practicalities attached to embedding climate surveys into extant or ‘under development’ Defence survey/assessment tools. The link between CO Performance Appraisal Reports and survey data warrants further consideration and concept development.  A clear definition and intent regarding the term ‘CO’ is required, noting supervisor and command responsibilities exist beyond designated ‘CO’ delegations, and some ADF personnel do not work under a structure lead by a  ‘CO’. COSC further noted that supervisors at all levels should be held accountable (and possibly reported on) the culture of their teams. 
5 Increase diversity on promotion boards and selection for most senior positions Agreed  
6 Promotion and career development gateways Agreed  
7 Flexible career management / models Agreed  
8 Innovative recruitment strategies to appeal to women Agreed  
9 Growth targets for recruiting women Agreed  
10 Occupational segregation Agreed  
11 Support to removal of gender restrictions Agreed  
12 Women’s mentoring and networks Agreed  
13 Targets for flexible work arrangementsEach 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. Agreed-in-principle Recommendations 13, 14 and 15 are linked.Full agreement to provide progress/data regarding the uptake of  FWAs in an annual report.Agreement-in-principle to the clear intent to increase the uptake of FWAs across the organisation, however, this recommendation requires establishment of a definitional framework for FWAs and further consideration in the context of other review activity. The ADF is currently undergoing a major review of it’s employment model (including significant activity under Project SUAKIN, which encompasses part time and flexible work practices across Defence), which will impact outcomes pertaining to all aspects of flexible employment.The development of a detailed implementation concept (with consideration of other review activity) is required against this recommendation, including the development of an overarching strategy to increase the uptake of FWAs across the ADF.


14 ADF Flexible Work DirectorateEstablish a central ADF Flexible Work Directorate, reporting to the Deputy Secretary, Defence People Group, to inform policy and best practice.  Agreed-in-principle Agreement in principle to the intent of this recommendation; that there is a need to develop a cohesive, efficient ADF-wide approach towards managing, monitoring, developing and delivering tools and policy to support flexible work practices across the ADF.The need for a separate ‘stand alone’ structure to achieve the intent of this recommendation (or the need for that structure to be a ‘Directorate’) will be determined when developing a comprehensive ADF solution for FWAs (see recommendation 13). 
15 Workforce management systemCOSC 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.  Agreed-in-principle Agreement in principle to the intent of this recommendation; that the management of FWAs needs to be embedded into workforce management systems and the need for greater agility to implement, manage and record a wide range of flexible work practices (including job sharing).Defence’s current workforce management system currently allows for posting two members against one position; but practical application is severely limited by resourcing and budgetary constraints, including strict caveats regarding the total number of personnel employed by each Service.  Under the current model (one person against one position), posting two members against one job means that another job will remain vacant.  To maximise the uptake of job sharing (and other FWA), the Services will need to grow their overall numbers of personnel.  This is a complex resourcing and workforce management issue that warrants further consideration as strategic solutions to increase the uptake of FWAs are developed (see recommendation 13).   
16 Plan SUAKIN – monitor impact of reforms on women. Agreed  
17 Support to posting planThe 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 FWA across postings.  Agreed-in-principle Agreement in principle to the intent of this recommendation; that ‘support to posting plans’ are required for personnel, especially those with partners,  families, carer responsibilities and other issues potentially impacting their career and ability to relocate.Further development of the implementation concept is required. COSC noted that Career Management Agencies currently develop a form of  ‘Support to Posting Plans’ (by different names) for many members, but resource limitations prevent their ability to produce these for all personnel. COSC noted the need to balance Service, Unit and Individual needs when developing ‘Support to Posting Plans’ and that such plans will not necessarily be required for all ADF members. Other agencies (outside the Services) may also have a role in developing a framework for these plans, including the Defence Community Organisation. Work to progress the intent of this recommendation will compliment/enhance existing Services’ Talent Management Programs and other support to posting interventions.
18 Establish Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office Agreed  
19 Implement restricted reporting Agreed  
20 Mandatory assessment of members to perform duties on criminal conviction Agreed  
21 Waiver Initial Minimum Provision of Service and Return of Service Obligations for victims of sexual assault/ harassment Agreed  

Attachment B

Defence Leadership Statement

121126 MR Broderick Part 2 Attachment B


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