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:
- 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.
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: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/sex_discrimination/index.html
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This data is to be reported by Service and work location or base.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 i