Complaints and Resolution

Complaints and Resolution (CR) manages Australian Public Service (APS) Review of Actions, together with acting as the Defence point of contact for the Commonwealth and Defence Force Ombudsman, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Merit Protection Commission and the Office of the Australian Information Commission (formerly Privacy Commission).

Redress of Grievance (ROG) is a formal complaint process under Part 7 of the Defence Regulation 2016 by which Defence members may complain about a decision, act or omission relating to their service in the ADF. The complaint process should only be used after reasonable attempts to resolve the issue have been made using informal processes, usually involving the chain of command.

The complaint process provides for initial consideration by a Commanding Officer or an Authorised Complaint Recipient (CO/ACR) and, if necessary, further independent consideration by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF).  If the member remains dissatisfied, they may then choose to make a complaint to the Defence Force Ombudsman.

The IGADF’s role in dealing with complaints is separate to that of the chain of command.  CO/ACRs should exercise their command and leadership functions to deal with the complaint’s submitted by personnel under their command/supervision. This reflects the responsibilities of each Defence member, their CO/ACR and their Service, in resolving complaints at the lowest appropriate level.

Chapter 6 of the Complaints and Alternative Resolutions Manual, available on the Defence Protected Network (DPN), provides information and instruction on the complaint process for members, Commanders (Commanding Officers) and any other person involved with the ROG process.

Further enquiries about Redress of Grievance should be emailed to military.redress@defence.gov.au.

The Review of Actions (ROA) process enables APS employees who are not members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) to seek redress when they believe an action taken in relation to their employment was unfair or unreasonable.  Section 33 of the Public Service Act 1999 and Divisions 5.1 and 5.3 of the Public Service Regulations 1999 provide directions for the management of the ROA process.

Notwithstanding that APS employees have a general entitlement to review of actions relating to their employment, there are a range of actions that are not reviewable under the Regulations and your application will be assessed to determine your eligibility.  An application for review may then be resolved by conciliation or mediation at any time before the review process is complete. 

It is important to understand the Regulations are clear in that making an application for review does not operate to stay the action for which the review is sought.  If your application relates to a direction from your supervisor or manager, you must still follow that direction while your application is being considered, unless a manager with appropriate authority tells you otherwise.

Applications for Review of Action should be in writing and must state why the review is sought, and what outcome the applicant is seeking.  Applications can be emailed to complaint.resolution@defence.gov.au.

If an applicant remains dissatisfied by the outcome of an ROA, they may seek secondary review from the Office of the Merit Protection Commissioner.

All Defence personnel, regardless of ADF rank, employee classification, or contractor status, can access Alternative Dispute Resolution services.  The dispute resolution processes are informal and involve an impartial third party assisting an individual or group to resolve conflicts and concerns and improve workplace relationships. The processes include interactive interventions and workshops that focus on resolving the issue(s) at the earliest opportunity and at the lowest appropriate level.

Alternative Dispute Resolution does not replace formal discipline processes, but may be used in conjunction with disciplinary and/or administrative outcomes and complaint management practices.

Enquiries and requests for Alternative Dispute Resolution assistance can be emailed to adr@defence.gov.au.

Complaints

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is an independent statutory organisation that works to protect and promote the human rights of all people in Australia.  The AHRC investigates complaints about unlawful discrimination, including age, sex and racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and breaches of human rights.

Information about making a complaint can be found on the AHRC website.

Respondents

Defence, like all employers, may be held responsible for breaches of human rights by Defence personnel unless it can establish that the organisation took all reasonable steps to prevent the breach, or the person was acting outside the course of their duty.

Where individuals have been named as respondents to a complaint and Defence is of the view that it will not be vicariously liable, respondents may wish to seek independent legal advice, as a claim for financial compensation may be made against them personally.

Access to Defence or Commonwealth funded legal representation is discretionary based on the merits of the case, and no assumption should be made that an application will be approved.

ADF members: talk to your unit Legal Officer.

APS employees: Legal Services Directions 2017 (see Appendix E – Assistance to Commonwealth employees for legal proceedings).