Section 2
Health and effectiveness of the Military Justice System

2.3 Adverse Administrative Action

Adverse administrative actions form the second element of military justice as defined in the ADF.

Whereas disciplinary action is the means whereby alleged offences in contravention of the DFDAare investigated and tried, adverse administrative actions are designed to admonish and correct unsatisfactory or unacceptable performance. These two options available to commanders and managers are complementary and share a number of common features:

Adverse administrative actions include, but are not limited to: formal warnings and censures, termination of service, reduction in rank, removal from an appointment or locality, denial or delay of promotion or revocation of provisional promotion, loss of security clearance and change of employment category. The most common subject of complaint is the imposition of formal warnings and censures, and involuntary termination of service.

Unlike actions under the DFDA which, to a large extent, are initiated by junior officers and non-commissioned officers, adverse administrative action are usually initiated and then managed by more senior officers. It might then be expected that this would lead to greater assurance that matters would be dealt with robustly, appropriately and in a timely fashion. However, seniority alone will not necessarily ensure sound administrative outcomes. Like other elements of the administrative system, good quality adverse administrative action processes and outcomes are directly related to knowledge and experience of administrative officers, local area support by legal officers, local area mentoring for junior administrators, good record-keeping practices and, most importantly, stability in appointments for unit administrators.

Last year’s report dealt with identified administrative and procedural shortcomings in some detail. There are clear indications that considerable improvement has been achieved in the past twelve months although posting stability in key administrative appointments remains an issue, particularly in Army.
As mentioned previously, CRTS capability has been expanded, making adverse administrative action capture mandatory. Awareness across the ADF of new data capture requirements is satisfactory and training needs have been largely met.

Recognising that an ADF member’s complete conduct record is comprised of DFDA convictions, imposed adverse administrative action and civil convictions, CRTS now captures all three elements. Data retrieval and report generation is available to all concerned agencies such as the chain of command, career managers, the ADF Investigative Service (ADFIS) and Service Police. Information security in compliance with Information Privacy Principles is assured through a rigid access control process managed by PMKeyS Security Management, the main ADF personnel information system.

Capture of civil convictions remains an issue. Although clearly articulated in DI(G) PERS 55-4 Reporting, Recording and Dealing with Civil Offences, Service and Civil Convictions and Diversionary Programs, its provisions are not well understood, particularly by the more junior ranks. In essence, the Defence Instruction requires ADF members to formally inform their units whenever they are charged with a civil offence. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) is the most common civil offence. Moreover, many reserve members hold the view that civil offences committed while not on duty need not be reported. The Defence Instruction makes no such distinction. It is suggested that unit induction briefs to new personnel and periodic refresher training include briefings on members reporting responsibilities in conformance with the Defence Instruction.

Up to this point CRTS, and its predecessor DTCFMS, concentrated solely on the negative aspects of ADF members’ conduct history. Since CRTS is the ‘one stop shop’ for members’ complete conduct histories, the need to balance this information with positive or complimentary achievements, CRTS capability expansion to include such things as civil awards/citations, letters of appreciation and the like is intended. The aggregation of all of this information in one concise report would provide a more balanced conduct profile of ADF members, suitable for consideration in any number of circumstances. Punishment mitigation upon conviction and posting/promotion screening are just some examples where such a fairer and more balanced picture would be useful.