The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today thanked Ms Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and her team for their work in completing the Review into the Treatment of Women at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA).
In April, I announced that the Australian Human Rights Commission had agreed to my request that Ms Broderick lead a small team of men and women with relevant expertise to examine the treatment of women at ADFA and the wider Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The report of Part One of the Review – into the treatment of women at ADFA – was today tabled in Parliament by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland.
Part One of the Review found that there have been positive improvements in the culture at the Academy since the mid-1990s. The Review acknowledges 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 can be improved. The report recommends 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.
I welcome Ms Broderick’s report. I have asked the Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force to determine the best way forward in formally adopting and implementing the Review recommendations.
Implementation of Phase One will be considered alongside implementation of the five reviews 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 issues canvassed in these various reviews are complex and a comprehensive response is required.
In line with the Review into the Treatment of Women at ADFA’s terms of reference, 12 months after the release of this report, an independent audit will report on the implementation of the recommendations and make any further recommendations necessary to advance the treatment of women at ADFA.
Phase Two of Ms Broderick’s Review, which examines the treatment of women in the wider ADF, has commenced and is expected to be completed in 2012.
ADFA remains the pre-eminent tertiary and military education training institution for future leaders of the ADF. The Broderick Review will assist Defence to further develop the strategic direction for the Academy. Importantly, it also enables Defence to build on its commitment to zero tolerance for unacceptable behaviour and providing a safe and equitable workplace within ADFA and across Defence.
The Broderick Review will be available on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website at: