Response to reporting in The Australian on Defence capability and organisational culture
13 April 2016
** NOTE: The text highlighted in blue was omitted from the letter when it was published in The Australian on 13 April, 2016. The text highlighted in green was added by The Australian. **
Your editorial ‘Military no place for tokenism’ (The Australian, 8 April 2016) in our opinion demands a response.
In the Australian Defence Force we strive[s] to create an environment where all of our people can feel valued, included and empowered to bring innovative ideas to the table. Our goal is to foster a workplace that encourages great ideas, attracts the best talent and creates a sense of pride in all that we do.
You may find that last [sentence] paragraph familiar; that is because it is almost a direct copy of your own company’s statement on diversity. It’s a good statement and easily adaptable to many organisations including the Australian Defence Force.
Diversity is not about identity politics it is about improving the quality of the workplace, it’s the antidote to group think - gaining a wider range of perspectives to make better decisions and, in the military context, enhancing our capability, that often intangible concept that is manifest in the conduct of military operations be that in combat or non combat situations.
So it is somewhat disappointing that The Australian through a series of reports and editorials over the [past] last few months finds it necessary to undermine the efforts of the Australian Defence Force to bring about what has been universally agreed, is much needed cultural change. More disappointing is that your editorial appears to contradict The Australian newspaper’s own diversity statement.
Over the [past] last few years the Australian Defence Force has made significant change across a very wide range of cultural issues. The gut wrenching stories of former and serving members of the Australian Defence Force through the work of the Defence Abuse Response Task Force were born out of one simple thing - a culture of exclusion.
The only way to ensure that these types of events cannot systemically take hold again is to ensure that we have a culture of inclusion. A culture that ensures the needs of various groups within our workforce can be accommodated so they can perform at their best.
As Commanders it matters little to us whether [it's] that is due to gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. What matters is that we have a cohesive team that is committed to the task at hand - delivering options to the Government of the day, every day.
Today our people are delivering on that across the globe, in combat and training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, across the Middle East oceans and seas intercepting tonnes of illegal drugs and thousands of weapons, in United Nations and multi-national operations in Israel, the Sinai and South Sudan, in keeping our borders safe and working with our partners across Asia and helping to rebuild the lives of our Fijian neighbours.
[Apart from our missions around the world,] we are overhauling our equipment acquisition processes through some of the most fundamental reforms in the organisation’s history, and through the efforts of hundreds of Defence people and industry partners over the last five years we have more submarines at sea today than we have in over a decade.
These activities are not the signs of an organisation ‘redirecting resources to impotent causes’ these are signs of an organisation that is changing to ensure we are representative of the community we defend and focused on our mission to safeguard the security of this nation and its interests.
MD Binskin, ACAir Chief MarshalChief of the Defence Force
RJ Griggs, AO, CSCVice Admiral, Royal Australian NavyVice Chief of the Defence ForceTW Barrett, AO, CSCVice Admiral, Royal Australian NavyChief of NavyRM Burr, DSC, AM, MVOMajor GeneralActing Chief of ArmyGN Davies, AO, CSCAir MarshalChief of Air Force11 April 2016