Section 4
Justice and fairness agencies

Fairness and Resolution Branch

4.1 Redresses of Grievance

The relevant authorities received 270 new applications for redress of grievance during the period 2007-2008. Of the complaints submitted 129(48 per cent) were withdrawn 8, not granted or not reviewable; the remainder being granted, partly granted or still under review. During the period 248 applications were finalised 9 at unit level. Of these, 181 (73 per cent) were withdrawn, not granted or not reviewable; the remainder being granted or partly granted. There has been an increasing trend during the period for members dissatisfied with the decision by their commanding officer to refer their complaint to their Service Chief and, where an entitlement exists to Chief of the Defence Force, for further review. The primary focus of complaints under the redress of grievance system remains the application of financial entitlements policies (particularly housing entitlements, retention benefits and pay structure reforms), termination of service decisions and career management issues (particularly promotions, postings and performance appraisal reports).

The initial advice process introduced in July 2006 continues to prove its worth to the redress of grievance system, with generally positive feedback from commanding officers about the value of the administrative and legal advice provided by the Directorate of Complaint Resolution. The Directorate of Complaint Resolution has also observed a general improvement in the quality of decisions being provided to members by their commanding officer since the introduction of the process.

In May 2008 Part 15 of the Defence Force Regulations 1952 was amended to preclude certain issues from the redress of grievance process and to place time limits on the submission and referral to higher authority of a redress of grievance. The amendment also requires the Service Chiefs to consider any redress of grievance at unit level where a decision has not been made by the commanding officer within 90 days of having received the complaint, and make a decision on whether to remove the redress of grievance from the control of the commanding officer and have it dealt with by the Service Chief. This has resulted in a more interventionist approach by the Directorate of Complaint Resolution to ensure commanding officers make a timely decision on a member’s redress of grievance, including the ability to ask the Service Chief to prompt action from other individuals and authorities from whom the commanding officer is awaiting information on which to base a decision. Another important element in the amendments was the alignment of the rights of chief petty officers and flight sergeants with those of warrant officers class 2 to refer their complaint to the Chief of the Defence Force if they are not satisfied with the Service Chief level decision.

Chart 23 shows the total number of redresses of grievance submitted by ADF members from 2005-06 to 2007-08 and the number of grievances that were finalised at unit level in that period.

Chart 23: bar chart. 2005-2006 Received 277, Finalised 299; 2006-2007 Received 265, Finalised 241; 2007-2008 Received 270, Finalised 248.
 Chart 23 - Military redresses of grievance received and finalised 2005-06 to 2007-08

  1. Withdrawn complaints are those withdrawn by the member prior to the authority making a formal decision on the merits of the complaint. This includes complaints withdrawn due to an acceptable outcome being provided through administrative resolution or alternative dispute resolution, and those withdrawn because the member does not wish to proceed with the complaint.
  2. Redresses of grievance recorded as finalised may have been received in the preceding year. Redresses of grievance are finalised when the complainant chooses not to pursue the grievance further or when the process of inquiry and merit decision is complete. A complainant who is not satisfied with the outcome of a redress of grievance submitted at unit level has a right to refer the complaint for inquiry by the Service Chief. Officers, warrant officers, chief petty officers and flight sergeants have a further right to refer the complaint for inquiry by the Chief of the Defence Force if not satisfied with the Service Chief-level inquiry.