Section 1
Inspector General ADF

1.2 Submissions and inquiries

The Defence Act 1903 (as amended)provides that one of the IGADF’s functions is to inquire into or investigate matters concerning the military justice system.

The Act also provides that the IGADF can conduct inquiries or investigations under the following circumstances:

  1. on his own initiative;
  2. when so directed by the Chief of the Defence Force;
  3. when requested by a Service Chief; and
  4. when requested by any other individual.

The Office of the IGADF received 40 new submissions and finalised 52 during 2007-08. 11 administrative inquiries resulted from new submissions received and a further four administrative inquiries were undertaken at the request of CDF and the Service Chiefs.

The number of IGADF inquiries undertaken during the reporting period is slightly down on previous years. It is difficult to quantify the overall inquiry effort by statistics alone. The size and duration of an inquiry can be influenced by many factors including complexity, scope, timeline parameters, number of personnel involved and external influences. IGADF inquiries may run between two months to two years and may be subject to a number of repeat representations by the complainant or affected parties.

Table 1 is a summary of 327 submissions received and of their disposition since the creation of the Office on 13 January 2003.

Table 1 - Submission summary
Financial Year Open at
start of FY
Open at
end of FY
2002–2003 37 6 31
2003–2004 31 66 40 57
2004–2005 57 56 48 65
2005–2006 65 83 88 60
2006–2007 60 45 70 35
2007–2008 35 40 52 23
Total 327 304

Table 2 is a summary of the origin of the 40 submissions received during the reporting period.

Table 2 - Submissions by origin
Origin Number
Navy 6
Army 19
Air Force 11
Joint units 3
Civilian 1
Total 40

IGADF has no executive power to alter decisions. His function is limited to inquiring into matters raised in submissions received, make findings in relation to Military Justice related issues and, when appropriate, submit suitable recommendations to the appropriate delegate 1 or complainant. Submissions to the IGADF serve two essential purposes:

  1. they are the complainants’ last internal resort once all other avenues of complained have been exhausted or the complainant’s chain of command is somehow involved in the substance of the complaint; and
  2. they assist in the identification, analysis and rectification of systemic failures in the ADF’s military justice system.

Although the raw number of submissions received during 2007 – 2008 is less than in previous years, it is noted that the complexity of many of them has in no way diminished. No specific causes for this declining trend have been identified although reduced numbers of matters that come to the attention of IGADF for inquiry may be indicative of improved standards in the way that military justice grievances are being dealt with through the normal channels.

Table 3 is a summary of submissions received by subject matter.

Table 3 - Submissions by subject matter
Subject matter Number
Abuse of authority 9
Abuse of Process 11
Avoidance of due process 9
Bastardisation 1
Comment on military justice system 2
Complaint against Service Police 7
Conflict of interest 1
Cover up/failure to act 5
Denial of legal rights 2
Denial of natural justice 3
Error in disciplinary process 1
Error in law 1
Harassment 7
Victimisation/threats/intimidation 4
Other 2
Total 65 2

It is worthy of note that the number of submissions finalised exceeded the number of new submissions received every year since 2005-06. This is a positive trend, due mainly to increases in the directorate’s staffing level. 3 Chart 1 is a summary of Office performance to date.

Chart 1
Chart 1 – Submission status trends

Table 4 is a summary of submissions finalised during the period by outcome.

Table 4 - Submissions by outcome
Outcome Number Percentage
No failure of the military justice system 34 65.4
Individual failure of the military justice system 5 9.6
Systemic failure of the military justice system 6 11.5
Unable to make a determination or withdrawn 7 13.5
Total 52 100

Chart 2 illustrates all finalised submissions by outcome. It is worthy of note that, in relative terms, the number of submissions deemed to represent no failure is similar to Commonwealth Ombudsman outcomes.4

Chart 2
Chart 2 – Submission outcome trends

Although there have been some notable exceptions, the time taken to investigate and finalise submissions has also been declining overall.

With regard to investigations into complaints about Service Police, Table 5 is a summary of IGADF Service Police investigations conducted during the reporting period.

Table 5 - 2007-08 Service Police investigations
  1. Delegates are the Chief of the Defence Force and the Service Chiefs
  2. Any one submission may refer to more than one subject matter.
  3. The Directorate is now comprised of five case officers, including the Director, and one or more Reserves
  4. In 2006-07 only 14% of the 33,332 submissions resulted in some form of remedy. Of the 361 submissions to the Defence Force Ombudsman only 24% resulted in remedy.