Chapter Three - People > Effectiveness of Investigations and Complaints Handling > page 2 of 12
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Effectiveness of Investigations and Complaints Handling

Unacceptable Behaviour

All Defence personnel have the right to work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination, and an obligation to treating others fairly and inclusively. Commanders and managers are responsible for promoting this ethos in their workplaces and for managing any complaints of unacceptable behaviour sensitively, seriously and expeditiously.

Unacceptable behaviour in Defence is managed in accordance with two policy instructions, which were revised and promulgated on 10 February 2004:

  • Defence Instruction (General) Personnel 35-3 Management and Reporting of Unacceptable Behaviour; and
  • Defence Instruction (General) Personnel 35-4 Management and Reporting of Sexual Offences.

Defence maintains three national Defence Equity Advice Lines which provide a confidential information and referral service for ADF members, Defence civilian employees and contracted staff, and the family members of all Defence personnel. Callers can discuss any form of unacceptable behaviour, including harassment, workplace bullying, abuse of power, sexual harassment, discrimination, inappropriate workplace relationships and sexual offences.

Complaints of unacceptable behaviour are reported to the Defence Equity Organisation, which manages a database of reported claims. The reporting of complaints continues to rise. Contributing reasons for the increase in reporting are:

  • an increased awareness of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour;
  • mandatory training over the last two years emphasised the process for making and managing a complaint;
  • greater confidence in management that complaints will be addressed effectively; and
  • increased efforts by the Services to engender a culture of reporting.

Chart 3.3 indicates the number of complaints of unacceptable behaviour per head of Defence population for 2004-05. The figures are derived from a straight percentage calculation using the number of personnel in each Service and the number of complaints reported for each Service.

Chart 3.3 Percentage of Reported Unacceptable Behaviour Complaints by Service for 2004-05 (1)
bar chart - select for accessible version


  1. Personnel numbers include permanent ADF members and Reservists with a training obligation.

Chart 3.4 below shows the total number of unacceptable behaviour complaints reported over the last four years.

Chart 3.4 Comparison of Reported Unacceptable Behaviour Complaints 2001-02 to 2004-05
bar chart - select for accessible version

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