Chapter 4: Implementation of Review Recommendations

This chapter outlines the structure and processes for implementing the Review’s recommendations. It describes the overarching framework and approach to reform at ADFA. This chapter also identifies risks to implementation of recommendations and the sustainability of cultural change.1

In summary:

  • The Audit is confident that the recommendations are being implemented with a view to creating lasting change
  • ADFA has ensured that there are appropriate resources to support the implementation of the recommendations, specifically through the creation of the RIT
  • There is uneven knowledge of the Review’s purpose and intended outcomes among ADFA staff and undergraduates, and greater institutional buy-in will assist in the process of cultural evolution
  • ADFA must be cognisant of the fact that the RIT has a limited lifespan, and ADFA will be required to embed change when the RIT is disbanded.

Introduction

The ADF is actively pursuing an agenda of significant cultural transformation as it addresses the recommendations of all the cultural reviews. In this context, and given the scope and nature of the reform envisioned by this Review’s recommendations, it is premature to make a definitive assessment of the success of implementation or the achievement of outcomes. Cultural change takes time and much of what the Audit assessed is work in progress.

The Review generated significant momentum for change and capitalising on the motivation and accountability for change early in the process can secure important wins and demonstrate commitment. Setting up visible and transparent structures and processes to support change is also a critical part of successful implementation. These factors formed part of the Audit’s assessment.

The Audit provides a ‘point in time’ perspective. The facts and assessments are accurate as at end February 2013. However it is acknowledged that further progress on implementation will be made in the medium and longer term.

Implementation – Structure and Management

The implementation of recommendations of the ADFA Report is managed by the Australian Defence College (ADC) Reviews Implementation Team (RIT) in collaboration with ADC and ADFA senior leadership. The RIT reports to the Commander of the ADC (COMADC), the Chiefs of Services Committee (COSC) and is represented on the Cultural Reform Networking Forum chaired by the ADF’s Organisational Development Unit (ODU). The ODU was established by the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) and the Defence Secretary to coordinate Defence wide implementation of recommendations in Pathway to Change.2

The RIT works closely with ADFA to support the implementation of recommendations. The RIT meets with the COMDT weekly to provide a written report to COMADC. The Vice Chief of Defence Force is then briefed on key issues arising. On a six monthly basis the COMDT briefs the ADFA working group, which is a subset of the ADC Advisory Board. The COMDT also briefs the Chiefs of Service Committee every four months.

According to the RIT, the goal is that all Review recommendations are implemented and embedded as business as usual by 30 June 2013. The RIT has taken a holistic approach not only focussing on each recommendation, but also embracing many other changes including existing initiatives, those generated by Pathway to Change and recommendations from previous reviews.3 The RIT assesses a recommendation to be implemented when what has been recommended has become ‘business as usual’. The RIT has been working to have policies changed and develop processes and tools (both manual and electronic) to sustain the recommendations.4

The Audit is aware of the efforts of staff and ADFA to build these changes into the everyday functioning of ADFA and of the many competing demands they need to manage.

The Audit welcomes the holistic approach and the resources that have been invested into the implementation of recommendations to ensure they are ‘complementary but mutually reinforcing’.5 This approach supports long term sustainability and will contribute to embedding the cultural and structural changes into the fabric of the operating environment through policies, procedures, practices, training materials, performance reviews and ongoing communications.

The visible and ongoing support of the senior leadership is also clearly evident:

The CDF and the Secretary are supporting us really well so that’s one of the points of leverage that we have. As you know with cultural change, top level management support is crucial. If you haven’t got that you’re never going to get anywhere. The CDF in particular has been really driving this and has taken a personal interest in all these things and that’s been seen by others.6

The senior leadership is supportive and therefore we have the ability to influence and have entrees into areas that we might not have otherwise.7

We can go straight into organisations now and liaise directly and use the authority of the Review...And so we’re conscious of the fact that we are implementing recommendations which will now be beneficial across the entire Defence Force.8

The entrees that we’ve had into parts of the organisation that we never thought we could have before, simply by highlighting the fact that this has the top cover and the sponsorship, the patronage of the senior leadership group in Defence and we’ve got to get it right. I also think that because Pathways is coming in behind us it is more enduring.9

The Audit acknowledges and congratulates the ADF and ADFA on their support for cultural change and for building the mechanisms for sustainable reform.

Implementation Risks

Establishing the Review Implementation Team

To support the implementation process the RIT was established in November 2011. The initial duration of the RIT was until the end of June 2013. However, it took some time to staff the RIT, and a considerable period of time was lost due to the staff ‘chill’10 and the lack of response to a call for expressions of interest. The RIT was only fully staffed from February 2012.

Towards the end of 2012 the RIT and COMDT became concerned about the timeframe and ongoing resourcing of the RIT. An Agendum Paper was tabled at the COSC meeting in December 2012 to this effect. COSC agreed to continue to resource the RIT at current levels until the end of 2014.

ADFA and the RIT

The positioning of the RIT at the ADC rather than being embedded at ADFA provides an effective driver and oversight body for the implementation process. However, the fact of being ‘once removed’ from ADFA creates both advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include direct access to and authority of the COMADC, and through to Defence. Disadvantages include possible tensions in communication or exchange of information between ADFA and the RIT.

Both ADFA and the RIT have worked hard to build a solid working relationship and both acknowledge that effective communication, liaison and support between ADFA and the RIT is critical to the effective implementation of recommendations. However some senior staff told the Audit that there was initially some friction and that, looking back, things could have been done differently. For example:

I don’t think we’ve been as effective as we could have been, and we’ve really only learnt with the wisdom of hindsight. We weren’t conducting meetings with key staff members to ensure that the leadership of ADFA was onside with the implementation of certain actions. So we would go in at a certain level in the organisation to talk to a staff member and the staff member would then go up to their senior person who would say ‘no you’re too busy doing this other thing, you can’t do that right now. So we weren’t getting sign-offs from senior staff before we dived down.11

The RIT now works closely with the XO Cadets and the Chief Instructor to raise issues and to ask them to support certain initiatives. Once it’s teased out as to how we might do that, then direct liaison is provided at a lower level to certain members of staff....We want them to provide the approval to the implementation team to deal directly with junior members of staff so the senior folk aren’t blindsided in the process. If the RIT is just cutting across that and demanding more of their team than they think is achievable, then that’s the wrong way to do business.12

This type of reflection is important in continuously improving the implementation, and communicating change management efforts, particularly given the significant changeover of staff at ADFA.

The disadvantages of the positioning of the RIT became apparent to the Audit at certain times, particularly when the Audit team needed to work through RIT sources to access ADFA.

Organisational Pressures

Defence is a large and complex organisation which has many functional units where multiple levels of authority may be required to progress initiatives.15 Communication and driving change in a timely way across these functional units can be challenging. An RIT member told the Audit that:

The risk is in large organisations when you’ve got to get a lot of components of the organisation to actually work together. It’s a pretty challenging task at the best of times.16

An example of this tension was brought into stark relief with regard to the payment of an allowance to Residential Support Officers (Recommendation 20). Whilst the scheme was implemented at ADFA expeditiously, the process of seeking approval for the RSOs to receive an allowance remained unresolved throughout 2012, despite the Service Chiefs having agreed to fund the RSO scheme. In mid-March 2013 this issue was escalated to the Defence People Committee (DPC) where it was finally settled.

In focus groups and interviews the Audit had become aware that the delay in resolving this issue challenged the very viability of the RSO scheme and was having a direct impact on those who may choose to be an RSO.

ADFA is a busy operating environment and staff have multiple daily challenges to address. While the RIT drives the implementation of the Review’s recommendations, staff at ADFA have been engaged in incorporating the intent of the recommendations. There are real organisational pressures on ADFA. These have been acknowledged in the need for an Establishment Review at ADFA. The background to the terms of reference for the Establishment Review state that:

The incorporation of the Capability and Technology Management College (CTMC), coupled with the ongoing pressures of the Undergraduate section brought about by the requirements of the Broderick Review, staff deficiencies within smaller already attached units (i.e. the Defence Force Chaplain College) further substantiated the requirement for a review of the Command’s establishment and organisational structure.17

Further, the terms of reference note that:

The recent Defence budget reductions (FY 2012/13 and over the next five years) and APS rationalisation will have a significant impact on the ADFA Command.18

There is no doubt that staff were feeling overwhelmed by the work generated by all the Reviews19 and the Defence cuts.20

Quite frankly everybody here at ADFA has a day job and of course the Review Implementation Team’s day job was just to force extra work upon these people.21

The Defence budget cuts aren’t helping us because we’re losing some of our civilian staff who are meant to be there to support the military staff...So military staff are being worked to the bone.22

Units are struggling, everyone’s struggling, I think. It’s not a big issue to cover for it but, if I’m looking after two Divisions instead of one Division, well obviously there’s more chance of something going wrong.23

The Audit was told that the risk is that as the APS reduces, administrative and governance functions will flow back to military personnel. This is suggested as a risk issue to the welfare of undergraduates as staff are not free to focus on their core duty:

If we don’t have the administrative support then the military staff get caught up with having to do processing and management, rather than being out there doing the core business of looking after the cadets, training and teaching them and their welfare.24

At the completion of the Audit, the outcomes of the Establishment Review had not been provided.

Awareness of the Review

The Audit noted that many of the staff that were present during the time of the Review had since posted out of ADFA. ADFA experiences a turnover of approximately 40% of all military staff each year.25 The Audit noted that some of the staff who joined in 2012 had particular interpretations of the recommendations, for example, that all cadets be assigned a mentor, that RSOs must be drawn from the cadet body. For some senior staff interviewed the clear priority for change in 2012 was not the Review but responding to other issues which had emerged.26

Given the rate of staff turnover and new issues which emerge, ongoing and consistent communication is critical. The COMDT’s efforts have been acknowledged in this regard:

The Commandant has been proactive in trying to keep us informed of what’s going on through verbal forums where he gets us together. I think he tries every month, but in effect once every two months.27

However in interviews and focus groups the Audit found that awareness of the purpose and outcomes of the Review was patchy among staff and undergraduates. Some staff had a very clear understanding:

As a result of the Review a number of recommendations were made in terms of improving the culture and some of the systemic ways that ADFA did business. Recommendations to basically improve how we do business...to make sure that ADFA is an equitable workplace and that everyone’s treated fairly, and to test if that’s actually occurring.28

It identified that we had some deficiencies in our organisation mainly regarding how we might treat women not just at ADFA but in Defence and the Review promotes and motivates the organisation to change to overcome those deficiencies.29

I think now, this year, with a fresh bunch of staff coming through I think we’re starting to forget about SKYPE and just now starting to realise that we change because there’s a need.30

There are certainly people in the organisation who do appreciate that the reviews occurred, because they have highlighted that we can be a whole lot better.31

There are certainly people on staff who recognise the need for the Review and recognise that many, if not most, of the recommendations are warranted and are ways that we can do business better.32

Other staff, however, were not engaged with the changes. When asked about their awareness of the Review and its recommendations the following were typical of the comments received:

Off the top of my head, no. It’s been a fair while. It’s one of those things that when we first marched in we all got a copy of the report and we were strongly advised to make sure that we read it. But it’s been a while since I have actually picked it up and had a read.33

[My awareness is] pretty limited I suppose. I had a flick through the report when it first came out but obviously that was a while ago now so I’m not overly familiar with it.34

I’ll be honest, I think the day to day has remained....I think the recommendations have been implemented, but in terms of day to day I don’t think you could say that somehow we’ve got a big change happening...From my point of view Broderick hasn’t really touched me very much in the workplace.35

I suppose I would like to see everyone to be treated fairly because if we keep going too far in the direction we’re possibly going, we’ll be discriminating against the blokes more than the females and I don’t think the females like the direction it’s going as well.36

Most undergraduates with whom the Audit spoke were unsure or unclear about the purpose of the Review:

I’ve read it online. I’ve got a vague idea from what we were told. I think they gave us a few briefs. I’m not sure, it was random. It was here and there.37

This place is always changing. It’s just if changes are going to occur, it’s just now they say it’s because of the Review.38

I had a much better understanding of what it was last year.39

I’ve probably heard in conversation that this is being done because of the Broderick Review, but not really specifically anything I can remember being spoken of.40

I guess ADFA’s never been one to miss out on a review every now and then. You know it’s just another review to put on the shelf I guess. You probably won’t find anything drastically new that the other reviews hadn’t found already. But you know if it makes people up top happy and helps them sleep at night, then great.41

It kind of seems Broderick is just all about women in Defence...I know there’s a proportion of women that have been mistreated and abused or assaulted in Defence but it seems like the majority are just fine the way we are and people outside care more about it than people inside.42

Much was also attributed to the Review that was not the subject of the Review’s considerations, in particular, alcohol and leave restrictions.43 Some staff and cadets felt that this contributed to a risk-averse culture and many more limitations on cadet activities:

I just feel that the reviews have brought about a culture of...arse covering. I find that there’s so much more of that going on. There’s been a lot less of ‘let’s go and do something’ and a lot more of ‘better not, just in case’. I think that it’s stopping the Academy from doing a lot of things that it could do to create good leaders. I think because everyone’s too scared. We’re losing a lot of culture and tradition.44

Conclusion

The ADF has ensured that there is appropriate resourcing to support the implementation of the recommendations. Reporting and accountability mechanisms have been established. As will be seen in the following chapters, ADFA and the RIT have vigorously pursued the reform agenda and there has been significant progress on the implementation of the recommendations.

However, twelve months after the Review reported, the Audit found that there is uneven knowledge and awareness of the Review’s purpose and intended outcomes among ADFA staff and undergraduates.

The Review created significant momentum for change and a real opportunity to drive lasting cultural transformation. As time elapses and the organisational focus diffuses with shifting priorities and operational imperatives, there is a risk that inertia and indifference may set in. Ongoing and consistent communication about the rationale, purpose and intent of the recommendations is vital and efforts in this regard should be stepped up. The Audit acknowledges the varied strategies to keep these issues on the agenda45 but notes the significant time that it took to develop and approve the Plan and hence to implement its strategies. The need for timely, consistent and regular communication to support cultural reform is paramount.

The combination of Defence budget cuts and associated perceptions about the loss of staff, shifting priorities and the high staff turnover at ADFA are all risks to the longer term sustainability of cultural reform.

An obvious question also relates to what will happen to the impetus for change when the RIT is wound up. There have been many recommendations made by many previous Reviews which were acknowledged as ‘outstanding’ by ADFA and the RIT and were subsequently built into the RIT’s performance matrix.46 If the RIT remains the main driver of implementation and ADFA does not take active ownership, the change process could falter and fade.

The Audit is confident that the recommendations are being implemented with a view to sustainability and there is no doubt about the COMDT’s intent to achieve lasting change. However, it is too early to definitively assess how successful this will be. Reporting mechanisms, strategic data gathering and monitoring will ensure that leadership continues to receive feedback and these issues continue to be live on senior leadership’s agenda. Adequate resourcing and vigilance are still required to implement and sustain reform, particularly as the RIT begins to wind up towards the end of 2014.


  1. Risks associated with each of the recommendations are outlined in the relevant chapter.
  2. RIT, ‘Communication Plan: Communicating Cultural Change’, p 4, provided to the Audit by Dr N Miller, 12 November 2012.
  3. Interviews with RIT staff, 12 September 2012.
  4. RIT, ‘Broderick Audit Summary Final 280912’, p.1, provided to the Audit by Dr N Miller, 28 September 2012.
  5. Department of Defence, Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture, 2012, p 31. At www.defence.gov.au/pathwaytochange/index.htm (viewed 7 March 2013).
  6. Interview 2, Dr N Miller, 12 September 2012.
  7. Interview 1, CDRE BJ Kafer, 12 September 2012.
  8. Interview 1, CDRE BJ Kafer, 12 September 2012.
  9. Interview 1, CDRE BJ Kafer, 12 September 2012.
  10. That is, post budget 2012 announcements regarding the reduction in the number of positions in Defence and associated recruitment process changes. Interview 6, S Longbottom, 13 September 2012.
  11. Interview 1, CDRE BJ Kafer, 12 September 2012.
  12. Interview 1, CDRE BJ Kafer, 12 September 2012.
  13. Email correspondence between Audit Team and RIT, 17 September 2012.
  14. Material received in response to RFI3.36 and RFI44 was different to that provided in Interview 47, senior ADFA staff, 19 February 2013.
  15. The challenge of paying an allowance to Residential Support Officers provides a good example of these challenges. This is explored in Chapter 9.
  16. Interview 2, Dr N Miller, 12 September 2012.
  17. CDRE BJ Kafer, ‘Terms of Reference, Australian Defence Force Academy Command (ADFA), 2012 Establishment Review’, p 1, provided to the Audit by A McCormack, 19 November 2012.
  18. CDRE BJ Kafer, ‘Terms of Reference, Australian Defence Force Academy Command (ADFA), 2012 Establishment Review’, p 1, provided to the Audit by A McCormack, 19 November 2012.
  19. The Reviews incorporated in Department of Defence, Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture, 2012. At www.defence.gov.au/pathwaytochange/index.htm (viewed 7 March 2013) are: MAJGEN C.W Orme, Beyond Compliance: Professionalism, Trust and Capability in the Australian Profession of Arms (2011), Department of Defence; Prof. M Hamilton, The Use of Alcohol in the Australian Defence Force (2011), Department of Defence; G Patterson Y&R, Review of Social Media and Defence (2011), Department of Defence; G Earley, Review of the Management of Incidents and Complaints in Defence including Civil and Military Jurisdiction (2011), Department of Defence; Australian Human Rights Commission, Report on the Review into the Treatment of Women at the Australian Defence Force Academy (2011); C McGregor, The Review of Employment Pathways for APS Women in the Department of Defence (2011), Department of Defence; Assoc. Prof. R Black, Review of the Defence Accountability Framework (2011), Department of Defence; Shared Services Review, Department of Defence.
  20. Interviews with senior staff 12/9/12, 19/11/12.
  21. Interview 1, CDRE BJ Kafer, 12 September 2012.
  22. Interview 1, CDRE BJ Kafer, 12 September 2012.
  23. Interview 30, Army Staff male, 15 October 2012.
  24. Interview 38, 19 November 2012.
  25. Australian Human Rights Commission, Report on the Review into the Treatment of Women at the Australian Defence Force Academy (2011), p25. At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/defencereview/index.html (viewed 26 February 2013).
  26. For example, issues for gay, lesbian and transgender cadets. This focus had been understandably driven by the tragic suicided of a cadet in 2012.
  27. Interview 12, Army staff male, 15 October 2012.
  28. Focus group S5, Mixed Service staff female only, 16 October 2012.
  29. Focus group S11, Mixed Service E&D staff male and female, 18 October 2012.
  30. Focus group S11, Mixed Service E&D staff male and female, 18 October 2012.
  31. Interview 12, Army staff male, 15 October 2012.
  32. Interview 12, Army staff male, 15 October 2012.
  33. Interview 28, Army staff male, 15 October 2012.
  34. Interview 32, Army staff male, 16 October 2012.
  35. Focus group S5, Mixed Service staff female only, 16 October 2012.
  36. Interview 30, Army staff male, 15 October 2012.
  37. Focus group U1, Mixed Service 2nd year undergraduate male and female, 17 October 2012.
  38. Focus group U6, Mixed Service 3rd year undergraduate male and female, 17 October 2012.
  39. Focus group U3, Mixed Service undergraduate female only, 17 October 2012.
  40. Interview 17, Air Force undergraduate female, 16 October 2012.
  41. Interview 37, Air Force undergraduate male, 16 October 2012.
  42. Interview 36, Army undergraduate female, 16 October 2012.
  43. Focus group U5, Mixed Service undergraduate male and female, 17 October 2012; Focus group U1, Mixed Service 2nd year undergraduate male and female, 17 October 2012.
  44. Focus group U3, Mixed Service undergraduate female only, 17 October 2012.
  45. As detailed in the RIT, ‘Communication Plan: Communicating Cultural Change’, provided to the Audit by Dr N Miller, 12 November 2012.
  46. Interviews with RIT staff, 12 September 2012.