Chapter 5
Justice & fairness in Defence

The ADF requires a military justice system that supports commanders in achieving their respective operational objectives in an effective manner while at the same time providing, and being seen to provide, fairness to individual members. Military justice is not a concept that operates intermittently, but every day within every ADF unit. It is an integral component of ADF operational capability and is inseparable from the function of command. Without it the perception, and indeed the reality, of the ADF as a highly capable and reliable volunteer military force would be compromised. Leadership focus to ensure that the ADF is supported by an effective and fair military justice system has therefore remained a high priority throughout the reporting period.

During 2007-08, further substantial progress, including the passage of key legislation, was achieved in the maturation and implementation of military justice reforms arising from the Government's agreement to recommendations from the 2005 Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade's Report into the Effectiveness of Australia's Military Justice System (the 2005 Senate Committee Report). Close monitoring of the implementation of the military justice reform program continued both internally and externally with comprehensive updates being provided to the Senate Standing Committee in September 2007 and June 2008.

Of particular interest during the reporting period has been the further development and refinement of a range of reporting systems to monitor discipline, inquiry, and complaints management processes. These reporting systems are intended to enhance transparency and accountability to enable a more effective general oversight of the military justice system. This will assist in the more timely identification of problems and remedy an acknowledged systemic deficiency that has been evident in the past with the ready availability of this type of contemporary military justice data.

The ADF military justice reform program has drawn upon many useful features of the military justice arrangements practised in a number of other allied jurisdictions. When fully implemented, the ADF reform program will offer a unique and capable system that is not only well suited to ADF circumstances, but is likely to represent best practice across a range of indicators in military justice activities, both in regard to the maintenance of discipline and protection of the individual.