SUCCESS COI - Chief of Navy Media Statement
22 February 2011
Thank you for the opportunity to brief you on the Navy’s response to part one of the Report.
I, like anyone else reading this report, was upset and extremely disappointed with the very poor behaviour demonstrated by a number of individuals in this report. It made for hard and confronting reading.
This behaviour had institutionalised what was an unacceptable culture within the ship at the time. It is apparent a number of the ship’s company behaved in a manner which is clearly contrary to our values and signature behaviours. These people also failed to maintain the high standards demanded of them from the Australian community.
Unfortunately, it is also clear that the response to this behaviour across the chain of command was ineffective. There were leadership shortfalls at all levels, which led to failures to correct that behaviour – thereby putting at very great risk, the maintenance of a coherent and operationally effective ship’s company in HMAS Success.
I cannot comment on specific detail which may relate to any disciplinary or adverse administrative action on the grounds that it may prejudice procedural fairness.
I would like to now step through the actions which I have taken as a result of the report. Before doing this I must state that I am considering commending a number of HMAS Success people for demonstrating outstanding moral courage in coming forward to report undesirable culture onboard their ship. They are a perfect example of behaviour I seek within a Navy culture.
The RAN has a proud history of service to this nation. I remain extremely proud of the members of the RAN who on regular occasions must step up and often at their own peril deliver the outcomes the Australian people expect of their Navy. All of you would have seen the footage of the events associated with SIEV 221 at Christmas Island and SIEV 36 at Ashmore Island or HMAS Melbourne and their recent successful deterrence of a pirate attack on board the MV CPO China in the Gulf of Aden. In these instances you would have seen Navy personnel placing themselves in danger in order to save other peoples lives. These types of positive reports on our people and their dedication to their service and this nation are not uncommon. The events shown to have occurred in Success must be treated very seriously. But they must also be seen in the light of other demonstrations of outstanding dedication and commitment by the vast majority of our Navy people.
As the CDF has mentioned, he has put an implementation team in place which will be led by Rear Admiral Du Toit. Admiral Du Toit is here today, and he will be well supported by CDRE Vicki Mcconachie, the Director of Navy People.
I cannot accept that women in the workplace or ashore feel threatened by their male counterparts. Despite the Commission not being able to identify the existence of a sex ledger there is certainly evidence to suggest there was some form of sex bounty in place at least relating to one individual. This is plainly unacceptable and this type of behaviour must and will be eliminated.
On the issue of conduct more generally, yes, human beings are fallible, and, on occasions, we can get it wrong. But this must not distract us from the need to deal quickly and effectively with behaviour which does not met our standards. We cannot accept any tolerance toward behaviour which fails to meet our values.
Navy already has sound policies which deal with Equity and Diversity, unacceptable behaviour and alcohol misuse. The challenge is establishing the right culture which provides our people with the confidence to live and work within those policies and, where shortcomings are identified, take swift action to ensure the policies are enforced. A ship’s company at sea or deployed away from home is the closest and most fundamental fabric of our Navy and we cannot accept any behaviour which places this fundamental fabric at risk. This report highlights that we need to double our efforts in enforcing the policies which we already have in place. But those policies must keep pace with modern times.
I am implementing a service-wide Chief of Navy Leadership Day where I will reenforce to our people our intolerance of unacceptable behaviour, and focus them on the way ahead.
The misuse of alcohol is a common theme in the report. Navy is not immune from the alcohol problems which confront this nation or from the devastating consequences which they bring.
Navy is deeply committed to the development of a new ADF Alcohol Management Strategy. This is in consultation with the Australian Drug Foundation. The United States Navy has recently begun a successful campaign in this area and I will be examining this campaign very carefully with a view to adopting some or all of the campaign elements where they are appropriate.
Navy already has a random breath testing programme in place. The report has highlighted some deficiencies in the system. These must and will be addressed. I will be looking to increase our testing procedures in ALL RAN ships. If we need to test 100% of our people then this will be the case.
The misuse of alcohol generally led to poor behaviour ashore. Whether at sea or ashore, Navy people are ambassadors for this nation. They must not forget this. Those who behave unacceptably will be dealt with through disciplinary regulations. They let themselves down, they let the Australian people down and they let down their ship mates.
For this reason, another option I am considering is a ban on alcohol consumption in selected locations overseas. As this would affect those who behave responsibly I will not make this decision lightly. But I do NOT rule it out.
The underlying theme throughout the Report is an urgent requirement for cultural transformation. In April 2009 I announced the New Generation Navy program of cultural reform. This program goes to the core of what we have seen in the sequence of events detailed in the report. You all have a specific package associated with this program for your information and I would briefly like to step through it.
This program has a five year timeline. Its long because I know that true and enduring cultural change does not happen quickly. You will note it is based on three pillars with the relevant ones in this case being culture and leadership.
The New Generation Navy program is designed to transform the Australian Navy in a way never before attempted. NGN seeks to empower ALL of our people to make them better leaders. It aims to transform Navy into a more forward thinking organisation. NGN seeks to improve Navy’s culture by targeting unacceptable behaviour in any form. It seeks to empower every member of every rank to make them step up to the responsibility which wearing this uniform entails.
All of Navy’s leadership courses, from those for seaman to senior officers, have been reviewed and updated. I have emphasised to all Navy people that leadership is a privilege and obligation shared equally by every person serving in Australia’s Navy. The Australian community expects Navy to have leaders who balance performance and people in a professional manner and who lead by example and maintain the highest standard of behaviour.
I take this report very seriously and people will be held to account. We are taking action to identify the lessons we need to learn from this report to further strengthen the work we are already carrying out with our NGN program. Further action both disciplinary and administratively is of course very likely and this may take some time. What is more important however is that the people of Australia know and understand that their Navy has no tolerance for the types of negative behaviour which is demonstrated in this report. We as a Navy are working hard through our
New Generation Navy program to stamp out that behaviour. This report has reinforced our already strong commitment to our New Generation Navy.