Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 403. Updated Tuesday, 01 April 2014

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Defence advancing on gender front

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released its final Audit Report from its

Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Sex Discrimination Commissioner and leader of the review, Elizabeth Broderick said the review found the ADF had made significant progress in a number of areas that would both improve gender diversity and enhance capability.

Building on cultural change, Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) General David Hurley has appointed the first Gender Adviser to the CDF.

Executive Director at UN Women Australia, Julie McKay (pictured), who has been a member of the Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force Gender Equality Advisory Board since 2012, has been appointed on a 12-month contract to provide specialist advice.

Audit finds significant progress

Commissioner Broderick urged the ADF to proactively communicate the benefits of cultural change throughout the organisation and be constantly alert to any backlash against women.

She also advised the ADF to strengthen its efforts around holding Commanding Officers accountable, review job design and statements of duty, and deliver a robust sexual ethics program across Defence as soon as possible.

"The ADF is on a strong path towards building an inclusive and diverse organisation," Ms Broderick said.

The audit found improvements to the response to allegations of sexual misconduct through the establishment of the Sexual Misconduct and Prevention Office and the implementation of a restricted or confidential reporting system.

Reviewing the practice of selecting the most senior strategic leadership positions from primarily combat corps, areas where women had until recently been excluded, was also a significant development.

There remained more to do, and good leadership was crucial, she said.

"Failure to create such an environment can produce inequality, risk and reputational damage."

The full Audit Report can be viewed at this PS News link.

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