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Tuesday, 30 May 2000
Page: 16614

Mr Laurie Ferguson asked the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 5 April 2000:

(1) How many Redress of Grievance complaints by members of the Australian Defence Force are currently unresolved.

(2) How many of the unresolved complaints are classified as (a) discharge matters and (b) personal matters.

(3) For the latest year for which data is available, what was the average period of time in weeks taken to finalise (a) complaints about proposed discharge actions and (b) complaints of a personal nature.

(4) Following the Auditor-General's June 1999 performance audit of the Redress of Grievance system what changes have been implemented to improve the operation of the system.

Mr Bruce Scott (Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The Department of Defence does not currently record centrally Redress of Grievance complaints that are being handled at unit level and I am not willing to authorise the substantial amount of work that would be involved in the collection of this information at the expense of processing the grievances. If a member of the Australian Defence Force is dissatisfied with the outcome of the unit level investigation of their complaint, they have the right to refer the matter to their Chief of Staff. The Department of Defence's Complaint Resolution Agency handles such complaints. As at April 2000, the Complaint Resolution Agency had 107 unresolved Redress of Grievance complaints registered.

(2) Of the 107 unresolved Redresses of Grievances registered with the Complaint Resolution Agency:

(a) 9 relate to Discharge matters.

(b) 98 relate to Personal matters.

(3) In relation to Redress of Grievance complaints finalised by the Complaint Resolution Agency during 1999:

(a) 17.25 weeks

(b) 43.95 weeks

from the time they were lodged with the Complaints Resolution Agency.

(4) A Defence position paper on the ANAO Report was tabled before CDF and Service Chiefs late 1999. Agreement was received in January 2000 from CDF, VCDF and Service Chiefs for the development of a revised ADF grievance system which adopts several of the ANAO recommendations in full and which reflects the overall thrust of the ANAO report.

The Department of Defence has commenced a revision of existing Redress of Grievance procedures aimed at streamlining the process within the constraints of the Defence Force Regulations.

In the longer term, a major review of the Redress system will be undertaken which includes consideration of the continued appropriateness of the current provisions in the Defence Force Regulations.

Action will be taken by June 2000 to implement a process by which Redresses of Grievance submitted at the unit level are recorded and monitored within the Complaint Resolution Agency.