21 August 2012

Review released into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force

Today the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force was tabled in the Australian House of Representatives.

Led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, and included panel members Marian Baird, Sam Mostyn, Mark Ney and Damian Powell, the review was the second phase of a review into the treatment of women at the Australian Defence Force Academy, or ADFA.

21 recommendations covering five key principles are included in the Review that that aim to:
  1. Actively promote a broad organisational understanding of diversity as both a core Defence value and an operational imperative linked to capability and operational effectiveness;
  2. Address the significant under-representation of women at decision making level;
  3. Increase the number of women recruited to the ADF as a whole, but also to specific occupational areas and units;
  4. Improve the level to which the ADF assists serving women and men to balance their work and family commitments; and
  5. Establish a new and more robust approach to responding to unacceptable sexual behaviours and attitudes.
Phase One of the Review – into the Treatment of Women at ADFA – was tabled in Parliament on 3 November 2011.

The panel noted widespread, low-level sexual harassment, inadequate levels of supervision, a cumbersome complaints process and an equity and diversity environment marked by sanction rather than positive engagement.

Also identified in the Review was that ADFA’s culture could be improved and the panel 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. 

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