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Chapter 1: Audit approach and methodology

The ADF Audit began at the end of August 2013, one year from the tabling of the ADF Review’s Report, in accordance with the Terms of Reference.

While the ADF Review’s Report was broad in scope, the approach of the ADF Audit was necessarily more specific. Accordingly, the team conducting the Audit sought to gather evidence of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the ADF Review – both in terms of the overarching principles it established, as well as its more detailed recommendations.

This Report is structured so as to outline each overarching principle described by the ADF Review and then to provide information concerning the extent to which each Service has implemented the recommendations that flowed from them. Each section provides the Audit’s findings in respect of this implementation and concludes with a reflection on the extent to which Defence has met the wider intent of the relevant overarching principle.1

The Audit conducted quantitative and qualitative primary research and sought evidence from a number of sources:

  • Consultations with senior leadership; as well as with strategically significant personnel, such as the ADF’s Organisational Development Unit (ODU), Directors General Personnel, Career Management Agencies and the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office (SeMPRO)
  • Documentary evidence relevant to each recommendation
  • Individual interviews and focus groups with personnel from each Service, varied ranks and genders
  • Quantitative data including Defence’s Unacceptable Behaviour Survey and workforce data.

Quantitative data

The quantitative research was sourced from Defence’s Unacceptable Behaviour (UB) Survey, as well as other surveys where relevant.

The UB Survey was administered by the Directorate of Strategic People Research (DSPR) across the ADF in September 2013, with the results provided to the Audit in December 2013. As noted in the ADFA Audit, the former UB survey (previously administered in 1998 and 2011) was redesigned for methodological coherence. This has enhanced the survey instrument but makes prevalence comparisons with surveys from the past difficult. The Audit can, however, make comparisons at ADFA and RMC Duntroon as they have had two administrations of the survey and notes that the surveying process will offer a good basis for comparisons over time.

The UB Survey was administered to:

  • A 25% sample of currently serving permanent ADF and Australian Public Service (APS) members (including Initial Employment Training (IET) schools)
  • ADFA
  • Three Initial Recruit Training (IRT) schools and three Initial Employment Training (IET) schools.

Qualitative data

The qualitative research consisted of targeted discussions at bases around Australia.

The Audit held:

  • 18 focus groups
  • 122 individual interviews
  • 22 meetings with senior personnel and/or key stakeholders.

Focus groups included:

  • Women only groups
  • Male only groups
  • Mixed gender groups.

Meetings, interviews and focus groups with serving members at bases around Australia formed the bulk of the qualitative research. At each site visited meetings were held with senior leadership, then interviews and focus groups were conducted with personnel. Interviews and focus groups were conducted in various combinations (female only, male only, officers, other ranks) with a particular focus on areas which had been the subject of the recommendations, such as women in non-traditional roles and women who were recruited through particular initiatives.

Consultation sites were chosen for their size or strategic relevance. The Audit also endeavoured to visit sites that had been previously visited in order to conduct comparisons and gauge change over time. The Audit visited eight sites in total for this phase:

  • HMAS Cairns
  • HMAS Kuttabul
  • HMAS Stirling
  • Holsworthy Barracks
  • Lavarack Barracks
  • RAAF Base Edinburgh
  • RAAF Base Pearce
  • RAAF Base Richmond.

Written submissions (confidential and public) were invited as part of the Audit and a toll-free number was established for those wishing to speak to an Audit team member confidentially.

The conduct of the meetings, interviews and consultation varied considerably from the consultations previously held. Consultations in the Review phase focussed primarily on seeking personnel’s views on all aspects of the treatment of women and sought their ideas and suggestions for change. The focus during the Audit phase was much more on discussing the impact of the Review recommendations. The Audit team conversed at length with personnel to explain the rationale and imperatives for change and facilitated many robust discussions on perceptions of the various merits and flaws of the reform program.

During these discussions, the Audit team encountered personnel who were powerful champions for change. At many bases men and women from each Service and of varying rank were strong and articulate advocates for cultural reform, taking on clear positions of leadership in order to engage with their staff and colleagues about what the reforms are intended to achieve and why. These strong advocates, who were not always in positions of rank leadership, remain an untapped resource for Defence in its implementation of its reform program.

On other occasions the Audit met with members who were significantly misinformed and for whom the relevant changes evoked deep emotional responses, sometimes anger, resentment and hostility.

In general terms where people had benefited from the opportunity to engage in forums or discussions on the reforms, and where leadership had clearly articulated the rationale and intended outcomes, levels of awareness and understanding were higher. Where these opportunities had not been made available, people generally had a much lower awareness and did not understand the case for change.

These people tended not to be engaged with the reforms, or held opinions based on fragmented information, hearsay or rumour. These discussions required the Audit team to provide information, dispel myths and debate assumptions. The Audit suggests that Defence should continue to provide opportunities for frank discussions and actively engage with personnel on the reasons, rationale and benefits of cultural change.


Chapter 1: Endnotes

  1. Prior to finalisation the Audit provided the ADF with a copy of its Draft Report for fact checking purposes only. The Draft Audit Report was provided on 19 February 2014 requesting feedback by 28 February 2014. Some updates and corrections were incorporated as a result of this feedback. Where this has occurred it is referenced as Consolidated Draft AHRC Audit Report Comments by Service/Branch/Institution, provided to the Audit on 28 February 2013.