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Transcript of press conference: 22 August 2012: Review into the Treatment of Women by the ADF; Gap Year Program; DLA Piper

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Minister for Defence - Press conference

22 August 2012



DATE: 22 AUGUST 2012

TOPICS: Review into the Treatment of Women by the ADF; Gap Year Program; DLA Piper.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, thanks very much for turning up. I’m very pleased to be here this morning

with the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, and also with the Chief of

the Defence Force, David Hurley.

Earlier this morning, I tabled on behalf of the Attorney-General in the House of Representatives

the Australian Human Rights Commission report prepared by the Sex Discrimination

Commissioner into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force - phase two of her

report. And some of you may be aware that after the tabling, the Sex Discrimination

Commissioner Liz Broderick made some public remarks about her report.

This report arises as a result of the Government’s response in the aftermath of the so-called ADFA

Skype incident. In April of last year, in the aftermath of the ADFA Skype incident, the Government

together with the then Secretary of the Department of Defence and the then Chief of the Defence

Force instituted a number of reviews into culture, personal conduct, use of alcohol, use of social

media and the like.

And these have now been presented and now subject of an oversight report Pathway to Change -

Evolving Defence Culture prepared by the current Secretary and the current CDF. And it’s through

that prism that we now view general cultural matters and approach so far as the ADF is


In addition to those matters, I also asked the Human Rights Commission and the Sex

Discrimination Commissioner to institute a review into the treatment of women, firstly in ADFA,

and secondly into the Australian Defence Force.

The Discrimination Commissioner’s review into ADFA was released and made publicly available in

November of last year and those recommendations were adopted. They are being implemented

and will be subject to an independent review by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner

commencing in October this year.

Finally in April, we also announced the Government’s decision to open the way for women to be

involved in all combat roles in the Australian Defence Force.

Let me firstly thank the Australian Human Rights Commission. In particular, can I personally

thank the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and her team for their very good work and for the

preparation of this review.

Secondly, can I thank the Chief of the Defence Force, General Hurley, his Service Chiefs - the

Chief of Air Force, Army and Navy - for their cooperation with the Sex Discrimination

Commissioner and for their - as the Government does - their welcoming of the report and our

agreement to it in principle. But the Chief and his Service Chiefs have been very closely involved

with the Sex Discrimination Commissioner in the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s preparation

of this report.

The Government welcomes this report. We accept its recommendations in principle and I’ve asked

the Chief of the Defence Force, his Service Chiefs and the Secretary of the Department to start

the task of detailed implementation of the recommendations.

Just as the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s earlier report into ADFA will be the subject of an

inbuilt independent review of implementation of the recommendations, likewise this will also be

the subject of an independent review by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner in 12 months time.

This is, in my view, a deeply significant report about the ADF and about the future of the ADF and

about the ADF being a modern defence force. And again, I welcome it and indicate my acceptance

in principle of its recommendations.

We now have, in three important areas, key reports which the Government has adopted and

which Defence have adopted through which we see the prism of the future of the ADF. In general

cultural matters I’ve referred to the report prepared by General Hurley and Secretary Lewis, which

is the prism through which we now look at general conduct matters and cultural matters so far as

the ADF and the Defence organisation is concerned.

This is now the prism through which we will look and Defence will look and the ADF will look at the

treatment and role of women in the ADF into the future.

And finally, in terms of decision making on the job, decision making at the desk, we have the

Black Review adopted by the Government and by Defence, which outlines responsibility so far as

personal and institutional accountability is concerned.

So in the course of the last 12 to 18 months, we now have three successive pieces of work

through which the modern ADF and the modern Defence organisation now has to be seen.

This deeply significant report deals with a range of matters and let me just touch upon some of


Firstly, the need for the equal treatment of women in the Defence Force to be regarded as a core

Defence value, not just for reasons of equality but also for reasons of operational effectiveness.

And the report makes it clear that the equal treatment of women is essential for operational

effectiveness and Defence capability in the modern era.

Secondly, there is an under-representation of women at senior levels in the service.

Thirdly, there needs to be an increase in the number of women recruited to and retained in the

Australian Defence Force.

Both for men and for women, we need to find a better balance between work and family

responsibilities to enhance recruitment and to enhance retention.

Finally, there needs to be a more robust response to allegations, accusations or complaints about

sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual conduct or sexual abuse.

There are some important statistics in the report which touch upon some of those and I’ll just

mention a small number of them.

In terms of the need for greater women representation at senior levels in the force the report

states that in Navy in our star ranked officer positions, of the over 50 positions there is three

women in those senior ranks and that’s despite the fact that officers in the Navy represent 20 per

cent of officer ranks.

In Army, of the over 70 star ranked officers, there are four women - about 5 per cent, despite

women representing nearly 15 per cent of officers in Army.

In Air Force, in the over 50 star ranked positions, there’s only one woman in the star ranked

position, despite women representing nearly 20 per cent of officers in the Air Force.

There are a number of findings or recommendations in the report itself which I’ll draw attention to

and I’ll then ask Warren Snowdon, as Minister for Defence Personnel, to make some remarks and

then ask the Chief of the Defence Force to likewise make some remarks.

These, I think, are some of the important findings and recommendations of the report:

Firstly, that the equal treatment of women should be a core Defence value and that the failure to

treat women equally in the Defence Force and the Defence organisation undermines operational


That women are essential to the operational effectiveness of the ADF because they strengthen the

ADF’s ability to be an effective, modern, relevant and high-performing organisation. And if women

aren’t treated equally in the ADF it cuts across the desire of the ADF leadership to be a first class

employer with a first class reputation.

Some of the key measures recommended:

That Defence should publish a women in the ADF report each year as a companion document to

the annual Defence organisation report.

The targeted measures, including targets or quotas, should be used to increase the representation

of women and build pathways for women into senior leadership roles in the ADF.

That the practice of selecting the most senior leadership positions in the ADF from combat core

codes should be reviewed with the object of selecting from a broader group of meritorious

candidates, particularly women. So, a recommendation that’s been accepted in principle that we

look to a broader range of roles from which to find the senior strategic leadership of the ADF.

Building a critical mass of women in areas that currently have a low representation of women.

The removal of gender restrictions from combat roles is strongly supported and some suggestions

made for the seamless transition in that respect.

Flexible working arrangements for both men and women to better balance work and family


The establishment of a proposed sexual misconduct prevention and response office to coordinate

victim support, education policy and reporting for misconduct of a sexual nature.

To include personnel with experience in responding to people subject to sexual harassment or


A new and more robust approach to responding to unacceptable sexual behaviours and attitudes

to make the system more responsible to the needs of complainants, including allowing members

to make confidential or restrictive reports of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination or sexual


And mandatory assessments of an ADF member’s ability to perform the requirements of their job

if they are convicted of a criminal offence, in particular a sexual offence.

And the termination of an ADF member’s service should be considered where they have been

convicted of an offence or a service offence and where the retention of the member is not in the

interests of the Australian Defence Force.

So, they are some of the key recommendations and findings that I draw your attention to.

I’ll askWarrento make some remarks; I’ll then ask the Chief to make some remarks. And then

inWarren’s and my case, subject to the ringing of the bells, we’re happy to respond to your



WARRENSNOWDON: Thank you Stephen.

Firstly, let me say how welcomed this report is. It provides us with real opportunities and plenty of

challenges. Stephen has outlined many of the recommendations and what they entail, but really, I

want to commend the ADF leadership, General Hurley and the Chiefs, for their leadership in

actually driving reform in this space.

Currently, only 13.8 per cent of Defence personnel are women. That is too few.

This report provides us with an opportunity to look at the way we deal with the recruitment of

women, pathways for professional development for women, opportunities for women and making

sure they’re treated equally within the Defence Force community. I think it’s a magnificent report

and it will guide us well into the future.

And I know that the work which we’ll do over the next 12 months in bringing many of the

recommendations into fruition will be seen when we do the audit and there’ll be an audit in 12

months time - will show that progress has been made.

And when we see the changes which will be made I know that we’ll see more women involved in

key leadership roles, we’ll see more women, we’ll see women eventually in combat roles and

they’ll be providing a greater contribution to the defence of Australia.

DAVID HURLEY: Ministers, thank you very much.

Just before I comment on this, could I just publicly use this opportunity to pass on our

condolences to the men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force for the loss of three fine

soldiers the other day?

The release of the part two of Ms Broderick’s report marks the end of a unique period of

exploration and examination of many of the fundamental elements of the ADF. The extent of this

report, combined with the six reviews conducted last year, leads me to believe that no other

organisation or institution inAustraliahas been so exhaustively and publicly examined.

The report reveals an organisation with many strengths and a strong sense of purpose but which

must address a number of diversity and behavioural issues which limit it from reaching higher

performance levels.

The senior leadership and the members of the ADF have supported Ms Broderick and her team

throughout the review. Her team has had unfettered access to our people.

The conduct of this review has also been an intensely personal experience for the ADF senior

leadership. Each of the Service Chiefs, as has been mentioned, spent a day with three or four

currently serving or retired men or women from their service, listening to their stories of sexual,

physical or mental abuse during their time of service.

We have more than a professional interest in bringing the report’s recommendations into effect.

The ADF senior leadership accepts all of the report’s recommendations in principle and accepts the

direction that the report’s findings and recommendations point to. Having received the report we

will now examine each recommendation thoroughly to determine how we will respond.

When you read the recommendations you will see that many reach to the foundations of the ADF’s

career development and management processes. Meeting the intent of these recommendations

will be a major challenge.

As is occurring with our response to part one of the report, in relation to ADFA, we will consult

regularly with Ms Broderick regarding the development of our response.

We intend to integrate our response to the report’s recommendations into our cultural reform

program as the Minister has referred to, the document called Pathways to Change which we

released earlier this year.

Importantly, we have engaged an influential and experienced external panel, our gender equality

advisory board, to broaden our approach to implementing the report. The board’s members, Mr

David Peever, the CEO of Rio Tinto, Ms Catherine Fox from the AFR, Ms Julie McKay from UN

Women Australia and Mr Todd Harper, the CEO of the Cancer Council Victoria, have already

commenced work with the Secretary and myself.

The Secretary and I recognise that the type of deep and far-reaching cultural reform we are

seeking will take time and a sustained effort from all Defence staff over many years to achieve but

we are committed to tackling our cultural challenges at their source.

I also thank the Commissioner and her team for their work and look forward to working with them

for the benefit of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force.

Thank you.

STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks, David. Right, we’re happy to respond to your questions.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that targets are the best way to deal with the problems we’re talking


STEPHEN SMITH: The report itself goes through an analysis of the use of targets or quotas or

affirmative action, so to speak, and Ms Broderick, the Commissioner, was asked about this, this


She essentially says and the report essentially says you can do one of two things. You can rely

upon a trickle-up effect or you can take some positive action to effectively accelerate that process.

She takes the view, and she’s recommended it to the Government, through her report, that we

should take positive action and we accept that. We agree with that.

We see both in the recruitment, retention and senior roles areas, fewer number of women than

we would want to see. So, we’re very happy to take that positive or affirmative action.

The Commissioner does make the point in her report and generally that in the end decisions have

to be made on the basis of merit or meritorious approach, so she’s not recommending that

someone who is not merit-worthy for a job be given a job.

She makes the point, for example, that there are any number of women applicants for a position

who are unsuccessful in getting that position but because they have applied and been considered

showed that they had the merit for the job.

So we’re prepared to take, to overcome the structural deficiencies that she refers to, we’re

prepared to take that positive action.

JOURNALIST: Minister, how long will it take to correct then the underrepresentation of women at

an executive level in the Defence Force?

STEPHEN SMITH: As the Commissioner has said, and as General Hurley has said, and I’m happy

to say, it’s not going to occur overnight. There have been a number over the years of snapshots

of Defence conduct or Defence culture and in my experience in the recent period, in the recent

period, most of those reviews or reports have said we’ve made some progress but there’s more

work that needs to be done.

That was true of the Commissioner’s report into ADFA, as it was true of earlier reports into ADFA

and I think true of the so-called cultural reviews generally. So, it’s not going to occur overnight.

But the important point that, I think that I’ve made and that General Hurley has also made, is

that in terms of cultural attitude and approach, in terms of treatment of women, attitude,

approach and outcomes, the ADF and the Government now have two very important documents

which provides us both the pathway and the prism through which these issues now must be

viewed: the document called Pathway to Change, which was the overarching response to the

earlier cultural reviews into use of alcohol, use of social media, personal conduct and the like,

which was essentially crafted by General Hurley and Secretary Lewis, which we released earlier

this year and now this document.

The heavy lifting, so to speak, will be the implementation of the recommendations, as David has

said. Some of those go right to the very foundations of recruitment, retention and promotion

through the system but the most important thing is that the Chief, his Service Chiefs and the

Secretary, not only welcome the report and are absolutely committed to implementing its

recommendations, they were closely involved in assisting Commissioner Broderick to come to her

conclusions, as General Hurley has outlined.

Don’t hesitate to jump in whenever you want to.

DAVID HURLEY: Just to further amplify that, we’re right on the verge at the moment of quite a

number of women coming into senior appointments in the ADF but it’s not on a systemic sense.

So, we’ve got a wave coming through but when you look behind it, there’s a bit of a gap before

another group comes.

So, it’s how do we correct that and have a constant flow of the right number of women coming

into those appointments.

JOURNALIST: General Hurley, one of the key points the Minister makes is that this is necessary

not just for equality but for the operational effectiveness of Defence. From your position, how is

the operational effectiveness of Defence going to be enhanced by having more women both in

senior roles and also having a greater sense of ownership of their careers in the Defence Force?

DAVID HURLEY: I think if you look at the performance of senior women in the ADF at the present

time, from Captains of Naval ships to Commanders of units, to Commanders of Air Force

squadrons and so forth, it’s quite evident that women more than have enough sufficient talent to

do these jobs and compete well with their male brethren.

We have to create the opportunity for them to do that and certainly if you see the performance of

many of the Navy ships, the first C-17 squadron, for example, all excelled at their work.

We’ve got every confidence that if we get the right women in the jobs we’ll get the right results.

STEPHEN SMITH: These days a modern defence force has to be capable in the modern world and

that includes use of modern technology. You go onto a ship these days, you go onto a frigate and

the first thing you are confronted with, whether it’s on the bridge or in the combat area, is high-use technology.

So cyber, use of high technology, use of modern platforms - these are things which require not a

particular gender, they require individual intellectual skills and aptitude. And just as the Chief has

said, I’ve been onto ships or been to our air bases where there are young men and women both

doing those roles and they are both equally capable of doing them.

JOURNALIST: As far as getting young women in the front door, was cancelling the gap year

program a mistake? Is it something worth reconsidering?

STEPHEN SMITH: I’ll make some general remarks and have David add.

When we looked the gap year both in terms of Army, Navy and Air Force, one of the things that

struck us was, firstly, a relatively small take-up in percentage but secondly a relatively small

retention rate, people doing the gap year but not going on and so we decided to cease that.

I made it clear to the Chief and the Secretary and the Service Chiefs that I had an open mind

about reinstituting something comparable to a gap year in future years when financial or fiscal

circumstances allowed.

Commissioner Broderick has said that we might want to look at a broader approach, comparable

to or equivalent to a gap year to try and rectify some of the recruitment and retention issues. And

I’ll ask David to add his remarks and analysis about some of the difficulties we found with the gap

year per se but we are of course open to the suggestion that the Commissioner has made and

obviously open to its implementation.

DAVID HURLEY: In principle, the gap year is a good idea, a good program. But one of the

problems we have is our training pipeline, initial entry pipeline is only so big, and every gap year

student or member who comes in takes up a full-time training position. So, trying to build a

pipeline that could cater for that number was quite difficult for us.

We need to restructure that. So, when you look inside the number of the recommendations in this

report, where it talks about try-as-you-buy, and so forth, methods of entry, we’ll have a look at

that and look at it in a structural sense. Take the lessons we got out of the gap year experience

and try to create a better throughput into the ADF.

JOURNALIST: I’m sure there are many men who are in the Defence Force who’ve also got an

interest in your plan to make it more family friendly. By nature, these are long deployments, the

Navy, you can be at sea for a long time. How do you make, effectively - how do you make a

defence force effective while making it more family-friendly?

DAVID HURLEY: If you heard Ms Broderick’s answer to this question this morning, she was quite

particular in pointing out that flexibility in the workplace is something that will be extremely

difficult or won’t work on deployments, operational deployments, long sea deployments, and so


We’ve got to look at the other elements of the ADF, the other places where people can work. If

you look at the structure of the ADF at the moment, the way we manage personnel and

manpower, it’s one person per job.

We need to recreate the structure of our units to allow people to share those positions, so we can

build flexibility into that. That will require some significant changes to our management practices

and, also, to - simply to the IT systems, and so forth, we use to manage our people. So, there’s a

lot of hard, detailed work to be done to put that effect.

JOURNALIST: Mr Smith, may I ask, how the process is going to lift gender bands on all combat

roles, where that process is at, at the moment. When do you expect it to be completed and how is

it going to carry out? Still going to be a phased withdrawal-

STEPHEN SMITH: I’ll make some general remarks then hand to Warren who, as Defence Personnel

Minister, runs the detailed implementation of that.

We announced in April of last year that the Government had decided to remove that restriction.

That was our in principle decision. My memory is that in September of last year, we formally took

that decision as a government and announced it, and we’re in the process of implementing that.

We made it clear at the time, and David and I made it clear to our colleagues that, again, this was

not something that could be effected overnight, it would require time. But we’ve been pleased

with the progress that we’ve been making.

ButWarren’s had the direct running of that, so we’ll getWarrento make some more detailed


WARRENSNOWDON: Thanks Stephen.

The reality is that we’ve got until 2015 and ’16 to finalise the process. We’ll have the opportunity

for women who are currently in uniform to transfer into combat roles as of, I think, next year.

That’s the plan. And then, as soon as we possibly can, to organise the Navy, Air Force and Army,

the three services in the areas where we want these combat roles opened up, organise them so

they can actually take women into those roles. And we need to be contemplating what that


And Ms Broderick’s report raises some issues, and we’ve had a discussion with Service Chiefs and

the Chief about what that might mean, and I’ll ask the CDF to comment, but, for example, we had

a visit from some Canadian women soldiers who made the point that they didn’t think we needed

a cohort of women necessarily for that unit to be successful in terms of incorporating women in a

combat unit.

Elizabeth Broderick thinks we should be perhaps looking at a cohort. These are the decisions

which we need to make after thinking through all of the issues.

DAVID HURLEY: Just in terms of where we’re at in implementation of that, we said that we would

open combat positions for women for internal transfers into the ADF next year. We already have a

process of expressions of interest out in the services to start capturing those who were interested

in making that change. We’ll wait for all those responses to come in to see what the numbers look

like. Slow take up or slow interest at the present time, but that’s not to be unexpected, I think.

As we move forward though towards next year, that will be the aim, to open those positions,

internal transferees, and then we develop towards opening the door for women to come in off the


JOURNALIST: General Hurley, in terms of quotas, do you think that should only be for star ranks,

or would it be the lower ranks as well?

DAVID HURLEY: No, we won’t have time to have read the report, but if you look at the

recommendations, for example, it’s looking at quotas to go to the command and staff college, to

the senior college, and looking at the different promotion gateways and how we work targets -

special targets into those areas.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you General, you said that it was a personal event for you and that

you were face-to-face with people who had stories to tell. Can you give us some insight into what

you learned from that experience, what were the nature of the stories you-

DAVID HURLEY: I wasn’t personally involved. The three Service Chiefs took part in that process.

Not that they’re divorced from this on a day-to-day business, but asElizabethwas going around

and a number of men and women came up, she said, this morning and privately to express some

concerns. In discussion with us, she asked whether we could come and meet with these people

and just get a real first-hand experience of what’s happened. Because you can read it, you can

respond to it, react to it, direct actions take, you know, punish people for what they have done.

But in a process like this, if you look at what we’ve through with DLA Piper and where we’ll go for

that in the future, getting a real, you know, grassroots understanding, we thought, was important.

And each of the Service Chiefs took part in that process, and I think it helped them as well, just

thinking through a number of the issues that were being raised in the report.

JOURNALIST: Mr Smith, can I just ask - forgive me if this has been touched on already.

When the DLA Piper report was released, there were some very strong allegations made, and

quite sweeping allegations made, about the possibility of some personnel who’d sinned in the past

still serving, perhaps, in senior positions. Are you close to making a decision on how they will be

handled - those allegations will be handled?

STEPHEN SMITH: At the time, both the Chief and I said that, yes, that potential was there. The

Chief also made it very clear that in the event there are people currently in the system who have

been shown to have done the wrong thing, conducted themselves either unlawfully or

inappropriately, then he won’t have them in the service.

And you’ll find in the Discrimination Commissioner’s report today a specific recommendation which

says, when you are looking at an ongoing ADF person’s service or tenure in the force, if they’ve

been convicted of an offence or a service offence, then fitness to stay in the service and the

interest of the Defence Force are things that have to be viewed in terms of that person’s retention

or not in the ADF.

More generally on DLA Piper, I think I said on the weekend that we weren’t too far away from this

report becoming public, and we’ve published it today, but I also said I wanted to get this report

out first before coming to DLA Piper for this reason, and variously, the points being made.

We’ve now got the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force Pathway to Change document,

which is a prism for the future on general cultural conduct. We’ve now got a pathway for the

future on treatment of women in the ADF.

DLA Piper necessarily deals with matters in the past, but if there are things that we can learn

there, systemic system changes for the future, we will, of course, adopt them.

Now, that this report is down, we’re not too far away from DLA Piper. I’m not putting a timetable

on it, but we’re looking here at days and weeks, not weeks and months.

Everyone happy?

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you another matter? You come from a legal background. Do you find

it unusual that Julia Gillard didn’t open a legal file for the work that she did for the AWU?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well, I’ve long been a lapsed lawyer, and I’ve discovered over the years as a

lapsed lawyer, generally not to give free legal advice.

JOURNALIST: General Hurley, one quick one please. When will RAAF get its first fast jet pilot

who’s female?

DAVID HURLEY: I wish I had an answer for that question.

I can’t give you a time but it is an area we’re having extreme difficulty trying to attract women

into. And again, Chief of Air Force very conscious of this and looking at the training pipeline and

the systems that bring them in.

We certainly get them into the transport field, no doubt, but it’s been something that’s, I think,

annoyed us for a while that we haven’t been able to track women into that place and trying to see

how we change what we do there.

STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks very much, thank you.