Report into the Treatment of Women at ADFA released (2011 Media Release)

Date: 
Thursday 3 November 2011

Today, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick released the Report of the Review into the Treatment of Women at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

The report details the findings and recommendations of a comprehensive examination of the current culture at ADFA and its impact on the treatment of women.

“Generally, we found the treatment of women at ADFA has improved significantly since serious deficiencies and failings were identified in the 1990s,” said Commissioner Broderick.

Recommendations contained in the report are based on extensive consultations and research for which the review team spoke to over one quarter of the cadet body, most of the ADFA staff, parents, separated cadets and senior ADF personnel.

“We heard that most women have a positive experience at ADFA, with many of the female midshipmen and cadets saying that ADFA is a good place to work, study and live,” Commissioner Broderick said. “However, the review also found widespread low level sexual harassment, inadequate residential supervision, particularly of first year midshipmen and cadets, and cumbersome complaints processes.”

Recommendations range from high level proposals, about the Defence Force’s commitment to ADFA, to targeted proposals that include: better education around gender relations and healthy relationships; more streamlined complaints handling; and better recruitment practices for the selection of staff with skills in supervising women and young people. Recommendations in relation to greater residential supervision and the establishment of a 24 hour toll free advice and referral line for cadets, staff and families were also made.

“Recognising that issues of sexual harassment and isolated instances of sexual assault are not unique to ADFA, the review also recommended that ADFA work with other residential colleges to create a common surveying tool that will measure the prevalence of sexual misconduct,” said Commissioner Broderick.

The review’s research methodology included a survey that compared trends and attitudes regarding unacceptable behaviour, comprehensive international research and a review of a range of Defence policies and procedures. Written submissions were received and an 1800 number was set up for people who wanted to speak privately about their experiences.

“I am confident that the effective implementation of these recommendations will see ADFA able to address existing and potential safety issues while reaffirming a strong culture of inclusiveness, equality, fairness, transparency and learning,” said Ms Broderick.

This Report covers Phase 1 of a two part Review into the treatment of Women at ADFA and the ADF. It is available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/defencereview/

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 0430 366 529.