JANELLE SAFFIN, MEMBER FOR PAGE : Madam Deputy Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the Minister please update the House on the findings contained in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner's Report into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force?
STEPHEN SMITH, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Thank you Deputy Speaker, and I thank the Member for Page and acknowledge her longstanding interest in Defence matters. The Australian Human Rights Commission Report into the Treatment of Women in the ADF was tabled in the House this morning. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, who prepared the Report, has made some public remarks, as have I, as has the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, and the Chief of the Defence Force.
Deputy Speaker, this is a deeply significant report. A deeply significant report. In the aftermath of the so-called ADFA/Skype incident in April of 2011, the Government commissioned a range of reviews. Cultural reviews, the use of alcohol, the use of social media, personal conduct and the like. The results of those reviews were encapsulated in the document prepared by the Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary called Pathway to Change, which now sets the prism through which personal conduct in the ADF is now to be judged.
At the same time, I asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to investigate and review the treatment of women at ADFA and the ADF generally. Commissioner Broderick's Review into ADFA was made public in November last year, and today we see her broader work, which is the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force. And at the same time, Members might recall the Government decided and announced that any restrictions on combat roles for women would be removed. Can I thank Commissioner Broderick and her team for her work. Can I thank the Chief of the Defence Force, the Secretary of the Department and the Service Chiefs for their very close cooperation with the Commissioner in her preparation of the Report.
The Government accepts the Report, and agrees in principle with its recommendations. I've asked the Chief of the Defence Force and the Service Chiefs to implement the Report, and to do that in a detailed way. There's a built-in review by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner of that implementation progress in twelve months time, as there is with ADFA Report.
To give Members a flavour of the Report and its recommendations, as asked by the Member for Page, the starting point for the Report is that the equal treatment of women should be at the core of any Australian workplace and should be a core Defence value. The equal treatment of women should be a core Defence value - not just for equality reasons, but because to not do so undermines the operational effectiveness of the Australian Defence Force. In the modern day, in the modern era, with modern platforms, we're not just talking about physical strength, we're talking about intellectual strength and attributes. And we know from other areas of Australian society that women can do this as equally well if not better than men. There will be a Report tabled every year with the Annual Report marking the progress which Defence needs to make to get to this ideal, to get to this positive outcome, where women are treated equally in Defence, in particular and including the senior leadership roles which are advisedly no longer to be restricted to those people who have undertaken a core combat role.
This is a deeply significant Report, and I commend it to all Members of the House.