Section 1
Inspector General ADF

1.1 Overview

2007-08 presented as another very active period in military justice terms with a number of major reform initiatives being implemented, including the commencement of the Australian Military Court, the passing of DLAA 2008 and the appointment of a team to independently review progress with the military justice reform program in satisfaction of an agreed response to the 2005 Senate Committee Report.

Most of the systemic changes arising from implementation of the current military justice reform program have attracted or required some degree of IGADF involvement, not least because of the assumption by this office of the oversight role formerly undertaken by the Military Justice Implementation Team (MJIT) until it disbanded in December 2007. While the additional monitoring and reporting responsibilities inherited from the MJIT are entirely appropriate for this office to perform, they have added considerably to the normal workload which has continued apace in both the inquiry and military justice unit audit roles. Despite this, staffing levels and budget allocations for IGADF were sufficient to meet all requirements during the reporting period.

As the office has gained in experience and its functions have become more widely known, it is pleasing to note that the degree to which it is consulted about issues associated with military justice or approached to provide arm’s length assistance in matters requiring inquiry action, has increased commensurately. This was underlined during the reporting period when the office of IGADF was asked to conduct a complex inquiry into the service of a former ADF member as part of a wider inter-departmental review of circumstances leading to the former member’s suicide.

During this reporting period considerable emphasis has been placed on the further development of military justice reporting systems to facilitate ongoing IGADF analysis of factors that contribute to the health and effectiveness of the military justice system. Previously, little attempt has been made to support judgements about the effectiveness of the system by the analysis of data because relevant data other than formal outcomes of DFDA action, was not readily available.

In the past, the military justice system, in both its disciplinary and administrative aspects, was largely decentralised and dispersed. Driven primarily by the separate approaches to discipline taken by each of the Services and the separation of their respective personnel, legal and service police branches, there was little central visibility, oversight or analysis of the system as a whole on any routine basis. Reporting systems and processes to collect relevant data were either rudimentary or simply did not exist. There was no particular agency charged with monitoring the health of the overall system other than via the annual report of the Judge Advocate General, which was essentially limited to the operation of the Defence Force Discipline Act.

That situation has now changed. Central oversight is now provided by the IGADF and there are now in place effective reporting systems for disciplinary and adverse administrative actions, for tracking administrative inquiries and for monitoring the implementation of recommendations arising from them. The case management system for recording police investigations has been upgraded and a new system for maintaining oversight of complaint handling is under development for introduction later this calendar year. Most of these systems are, or will be, accessible by command and IGADF.

The information now available, supplemented by data gained as a result of the rolling IGADF sponsored ADF unit military justice audit program provides the means to permit the health and effectiveness of the ADF military justice system to be continuously monitored to an extent not previously possible.

From the evidence available to the IGADF it is reasonable to conclude that there is a general level of satisfaction with the way the ADF’s military justice system has operated in 2007-08. While it must be acknowledged that individual instances of unfair treatment can and do occur from time to time, as they will in any large organisation, they are the exception rather than the rule. Although the incidence of such occurrences is sometimes cited as an indicator of the health of the military justice system, a more useful indicator is likely to be the capacity of the ADF to respond to them with appropriate mechanisms. In this regard the ADF is well served.