Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture 2017–2022 reinforces that all Defence personnel are accountable for their behaviours and actions and for creating a more positive and inclusive culture. To embed this, Defence has prioritised cultural change initiatives focused on early intervention, complaints management and remediation of unacceptable behaviour.
Defence has a comprehensive employment life cycle approach to workplace behaviour. The organisation is focused on creating a workplace environment where expected behaviours are clear at every step of a person’s employment journey.
All Defence personnel complete mandatory annual Workplace Behaviour training, which reinforces expected behaviours and the process for submitting and managing complaints. Learning and development programs and behaviour training for commanders, managers and supervisors are designed to strengthen leadership capability and accountability in both the early intervention and the effective management of unacceptable behaviour.
When incidents of unacceptable behaviour do occur, Defence has robust systems and processes in place to resolve matters and to hold personnel to account for poor behaviour. Early intervention strategies empower individuals to proactively work toward resolution at the lowest appropriate level, with a range of dispute resolution options available. Readily accessible support and guidance is offered through trained alternative dispute practitioners and a comprehensive network of workplace behaviour advisors to foster early resolution of disputes and effective management of complaints.
Defence continues to look for opportunities to strengthen its approach to early intervention and complaint management. In addition to implementing the recommendations from the Defence Force Ombudsman Health Checks, in 2019–2020 Defence:
commenced a review of the Complaints and Resolutions Manual to deliver a revised, user-friendly reference for all Defence personnel
initiated a review of Defence’s unacceptable behaviour reporting systems to simplify, streamline and improve reporting capability
designed an enhanced complaints-handling service that will be trialled and evaluated in 2020–21.
Defence is committed to creating a safe environment where individuals feel supported to report unacceptable behaviour knowing that incidents will be addressed in a timely and effective manner.
Data from the previous financial years shows that the number of complaints being reported has steadily increased. The number of incidents occurring in 2019–20 also increased from the previous year but was below the five-year average of 857.
Personnel are increasingly willing to report incidents of unacceptable behaviour. Of the total of 1,098 complaints reported during 2019–20, 851 related to incidents that had occurred in the same financial year and 247 to incidents in previous financial years.
The confidence of the workforce to report incidents of unacceptable behaviour continues to be reflected in the Defence Enterprise attitudinal surveys. The 2019 Defence YourSay Organisational Climate Survey indicates that the majority of Defence personnel perceive:
that incidents of unacceptable behaviour are being managed well
that Defence has a culture that supports individuals who report fraud, corruption or unethical behaviour.
See Figures 6.3 and 6.4 for details. Note that data is only available for this measure from 2017 onwards, as the question was not asked before 2017.