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Report of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force

The position of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) is established under section 110B of the Defence Act 1903. The IGADF operates outside the ordinary chain of command to provide an independent and impartial integrity, inquiry and assurance function.

The functions of the IGADF are to:

  • provide the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) with a mechanism for internal audit and review of the military justice system
  • provide an avenue by which failures in the military justice system may be examined and remedied
  • provide advice on matters concerning the military justice system
  • conduct reviews of complaints made under the statutory redress of grievance scheme
  • conduct inquiries into deaths of ADF members
  • inquire into or investigate matters concerning the ADF as directed by the Minister or CDF.

Despite domestic natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, the operating tempo in the Office of the IGADF remained relatively high in 2019–20 and was comparable with previous reporting periods.

In May 2016, under the direction of the CDF, the IGADF established an inquiry into rumours and allegations of misconduct, including potential breaches of the law of armed conflict, by members of the Special Operations Task Group during deployments in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016. By the end of the reporting period, significant progress had been made towards completion of the inquiry. Substantial effort continued during the reporting period to ensure all persons involved in the inquiry were provided with relevant information on access to legal assistance and welfare support services.

Between July 2019 and March 2020, the IGADF conducted 39 military justice performance audits and 19 focus group activities. One unit was subject to a re-audit, because the previous audit identified material deficiencies in the unit’s military justice arrangements. Material deficiencies were also identified in two other units. During the conduct of military justice performance audits in the reporting period, 3,179 ADF personnel participated in focus group discussions.

After the introduction of travel restrictions in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the remaining audit schedule for 2019–20 was cancelled. The planned re-audit of units with material deficiencies was postponed; the re-audits will be scheduled as soon as feasible.

The IGADF received 66 new submissions alleging military justice failures in 2019–20. As at 30 June 2020, 73 submissions had been finalised based on the results of an IGADF inquiry or assessment.

In addition the IGADF received 25 complaints of possible breaches of Military Police professional standards. During the reporting period 25 such complaints were finalised; 16 of these were submitted in 2019–20 and the remaining nine in previous reporting periods.

There were 318 new applications for redress of grievance in 2019–20, a decrease of approximately 12 per cent from the 360 received in 2018–19. The IGADF finalised 336 applications (some of which were received in previous reporting periods) during the reporting period.

In 2019–20 the IGADF initiated 44 new reviews and finalised 28 inquiries into the death in service of ADF members. Approximately 30 inquiries were ongoing at the end of the reporting period. In addition, IGADF staff worked closely with key Australian Government stakeholders to support the establishment of the new National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

At the end of each financial year, under section 110R of the Defence Act 1903, the IGADF prepares an annual report on the operations of the Office of the IGADF for the Minster and for presentation to the Parliament. For more information and to access a copy of the latest IGADF Annual Report, visit www.defence.gov.au/mjs/reports.asp.