Appendix B – Scope of Research and Methodology

The findings and recommendations in this Report are based on an independent assessment of ADFA and a thorough examination of the significant amount of information gathered.

From the outset, the Review consulted extensively. The research process has been designed to achieve maximum participation. The Review travelled nationally to consult with key stakeholders. Before conducting the consultations, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner met with Senior ADF personnel, including the former and current Chief of the Defence Force, Air Vice Marshal Angus Houston and General David Hurley. She sought their views on issues regarding the Terms of Reference for the Review and ADFA generally. The Review also met with the Acting Commandment and Deputy Commandant at ADFA and their senior staff, prior to the consultation process. The valuable insights they provided assisted the Review to determine the approach to, and breadth of, the research methodology.

To complement the consultative process, the Review undertook considerable research, drawing on the experience of international tri-Service academies and defence forces, as well as examining ADFA and ADF-wide policies and practices.

Qualitative data collection

Qualitative data was collected through written submissions, interviews, focus groups, world cafes and group discussions, as described below.

World Café

In its early stages, the Review conducted a group discussion (World Cafè) with 40 midshipmen and cadets from across Services and years. The midshipmen and cadets were divided into tables of five and six and given the following questions to discuss with their peers:

  1. What things at ADFA are working well about the way women are treated?
  2. What things at ADFA need improving about the way women are treated?
  3. How did you feel about the way ADFA and ADF have been treated in the recent public debate?
  4. What outcomes/recommendations could you imagine coming from the review that would be negative and disturbing?
  5. What outcomes/recommendations could you imagine coming from the review that would be encouraging and uplifting?
  6. If there are instances when women are treated badly at ADFA, is this because the system has failed or because individuals have behaved badly/inappropriately?

Midshipmen and cadets were encouraged to sit with people they did not already know and one person was elected as chair at each table. The chair was responsible for reporting back on the findings of his/her table to a wider group, including the Review Panel. This process provided a snapshot of the range of views held by midshipmen and cadets at that time and provided themes for the Review to explore in more detail in the qualitative research.

Briefings and interviews

Thirty seven briefings and interviews were conducted with 56 individuals by the Review. At the start of the Review, high-level briefings were conducted with Senior ADF and ADFA personnel. The Review also met senior academic staff at ADFA and members of the Australian Defence College Advisory Board. In addition, briefings were held with a number of people external to the ADF and ADFA, including experts in the areas of Defence, gender and ethics, as well as representatives of the Canadian Forces College and the Royal Military College Kingston, Canada.

The Review observed the ADFA Army Recruitment Selection Board and the Mid-Year Board of Review processes.[467] The Board of Review assesses the progress of each midshipmen and cadet, identifies any issues of concern and develops strategies to address those issues.

The Review also conducted a range of confidential briefings and interviews, in person or by telephone, with current and former members of the ADF, current and former ADFA cadets, current and former staff of ADFA and parents of cadets.

A toll-free hotline, advertised through flyers circulated at ADFA, was established to allow current cadets to contact the Review and speak privately with a team member about their experience at ADFA, as it related to the Terms of Reference. A number of telephone interviews were conducted as a result of calls to the hotline.

Focus groups

The Review conducted 38 focus groups with cadets; military, academic and medical staff; sponsor families; and families of cadets. Focus group facilitators were guided by a structured series of questions designed to explore themes relevant to the Terms of Reference. The process, however, was also iterative and flexible, allowing issues and themes of particular interest to the group to be explored or ones which had been raised by previous groups.

Among the topics discussed in focus groups were the treatment of female cadets by other cadets; the treatment of female cadets by military and academic staff; opportunities available to female cadets at ADFA; issues and incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment of female cadets; avenues and effectiveness of complaints processes; recruitment and induction for cadets and staff; and accommodation, including supervision, leadership, and support services, both inside ADFA and externally. Participants in focus groups were also asked to provide their views on possible recommendations for the Review.

Mixed gender focus groups with cadets included:

  • first-years only across each service
  • second-years only across each service
  • third-years only across each service
  • Army cadets
  • Navy midshipmen
  • Air Force cadets
  • international students across each service
  • members of the rugby club
  • members of the AFL club
  • members of the production club
  • members of the precision drill club.

Women-only cadet focus groups were also conducted.

Focus groups with staff included:

  • Warrant Officers
  • Sergeants
  • Divisional Officers
  • physical training instructors
  • padres
  • medical staff
  • psychologists
  • academic staff.

Women only staff focus groups were also held.

Focus groups were also conducted with cadets at Royal Military College, Duntroon.

Written submissions

The Review invited written submissions during a two-week period from 27 June to 8 July 2011. Advertisements seeking submissions for Phase One of the Review appeared in major Australian metropolitan and regional papers. The call for submissions was also placed on the Australian Human Rights Commission website and disseminated through the Defence News bulletin.

As noted in the advertisements, the Review was particularly interested in hearing from cadets, former cadets, families and sponsor families. During the submission period, a toll-free hotline was established to answer inquiries from the public and to allow people to provide a verbal submission where they were unable to, or did not wish to, provide information in writing. The Review received public and confidential submissions. All public submissions were placed on the Defence Review website:

The Review received a number of confidential submissions from current staff at ADFA, serving members of the ADF, recently separated cadets and people whose family were currently serving in the ADF. Their request for confidentiality was based on a number of factors including a fear of reprisal, either for themselves or their serving family member, the highly personal nature of the content or the fact that the content was only known to a limited number of people.


The Review undertook a number of visits and guided tours of ADFA. The Review also visited the Royal Australian Navy College, Creswell, the Royal Australian Air Force College, Sale and the Royal Military College, Duntroon. These single-service colleges provided a useful comparison to the tri-Service environment of ADFA, as well as insight into relevant issues confronting defence colleges generally and how they are addressed.

The Review observed the ADFA Army Recruitment Selection Board, the Mid-Year Board of Review and also met with the Australian Defence College Advisory Board.

Visits to leisure and sporting activities were undertaken.

ADF documents

During the course of the Review, a range of documents, including reports, surveys and articles, were requested by the Review and provided by the ADF. This material provided useful information regarding relevant policies and practices of the ADF and ADFA, including complaints handling, incidents of unacceptable behaviour and attitudes of cadets and officers.

International research

An analysis of international military and tri-Service academies was undertaken for comparative purposes. It was clear to the Review that no academy or defence force has had an entirely smooth transition to formal gender integration and the inclusive treatment of women in military service. There are comparisons to be made and important lessons to be gleaned from all over the globe. However, the Review has chosen to focus on what it considers the most comparable military environments, namely Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands and New Zealand. These have been identified as offering the closest comparison, both in terms of the wider social and political contexts and the structure of a military academy. Further detail on the international experience is contained in Chapter 4.

Quantitative data collection

The Review collected quantitative data to supplement its qualitative research. This included an analysis of existing survey information, as well as undertaking a new survey.

The primary survey tool was the Unacceptable Behaviour Survey, which was administered to the cadet body in June 2011. This survey collected information about gender and sex-related harassment, as well as other demographic, behavioural, attitudinal and experiential information. Comparable versions of the survey were administered at ADFA in 1998, as part of the Grey Review, and then in 1999, 2000 and from 2003 to 2008. The 2011 survey informs the Review’s understanding of the current levels of, and attitudes towards, unacceptable behaviours, while comparable parts of the datasets from 1998 and 2005 surveys are used to compare the reported experiences of different cohorts over time.

In addition, data from the ADF, the Office of Inspector General of the ADF and the ACT branch of the Australian Federal Police, was used to inform the Review’s findings.

Limitations to research

As noted above, a key piece of the quantitative data for the Review was the Unacceptable Behaviour Survey. The Review considered administering this survey, or a comparable one, with other Australian university residential colleges and training colleges to provide a comparison of sexual experience and attitudes. However, securing access to a comparable sample of students and the lengthy process involved in obtaining ethics approval would have substantially delayed the release of this report.

The Review is satisfied that the data gathered from the survey used in previous years at ADFA provides a valuable longitudinal comparison of cadets’ attitudes and experiences of unacceptable behaviours.

Previous reviews

ADFA has been subject to a range of reviews since the 1990s that have directly and indirectly examined the culture of the organisation and the impact of that culture on the treatment of women. The following three are of most relevance to this Review.

Report of the Review into Polices and Practices to Deal with Sexual Harassment at the Australian Defence Force Academy (Grey Review, 1998)

This was one of a series of reviews undertaken by the ADF on gender integration. Specifically, the Grey Review examined:

  • the culture of the Corps of Officer Cadets and, in particular, how equity issues are understood and practiced
  • how the Defence Academy handles complaints of sexual harassment and sexual offences
  • what training and education Defence Academy staff and cadets receive on ethics, personal development and unacceptable behaviour.

In examining the culture at ADFA, the Grey Review found that a high level of unacceptable sexual behaviour, including ‘sexual and gender harassment as well as sexual offences’.[468] It also found that there was ‘a high level of tolerance of the unacceptable behaviour amongst the cadets and by many members of the military staff’.[469] In addition, the Grey Review identified problems of general bullying.

The Grey Review proposed a range of recommendations to address ADFA’s cultural deficiencies. These recommendations became part of the ADFA reform program (‘the Andrews reform program’).

Inquiry into the Learning Culture in ADF Schools and Training Establishments (Learning Culture Inquiry, 2006)

This Inquiry was established by the then Chief of Defence Forces, Air Chief Marshall, Angus Houston, AO, AFC. Specifically the Learning Culture Inquiry examined:

  • whether there exists in ADF Schools and Training Establishments evidence of an inappropriate culture that supports bullying or harassment from instructing staff as well as from students and trainees against other students and trainees
  • whether there are identifiable irregularities in the administration of the care and welfare of trainees which require corrective action
  • the management of minors in ADF Schools and Training Establishments and whether the current system is likely to contribute to any possible form of abuse.

Noting a clear improvement in behavioural standards in all the training establishments under review (including ADFA), the Learning Culture Inquiry did not find evidence of a culture of bullying and harassment. However, it did find that ‘there was still some way to go before the underlying culture will firmly oppose harassment and bullying’. It also supported explicit policies on such issues as equity and diversity.[470]

Review of the Australian Defence Force Academy Military Organisation and Culture (Kafer Review, 2010)

Conducted by CDRE Bruce Kafer, ADFA Commandant at the time, this Review found that many of the extreme cultural failings identified in the Grey Review were no longer prominent at ADFA.[471] Nevertheless, the Kafer Review also found that ‘despite the apparent eradication of widespread or extreme bullying, some less overt and low-level forms of intolerance, aggression and negative social behaviours continue to exist’.[472]

In his report, CDRE Kafer identified a number of issues relevant to the continuing cultural deficiencies, all of which were a product of the military environment. The most relevant to this Review were the:

  • patchy intolerance of physical weakness
  • somewhat limited acceptance of females or feminine characteristics
  • existence of a drinking culture
  • insufficient leadership opportunities for cadets.

The Kafer Review also identified that ‘the selection process for ADFA’s military staff needs to be overhauled, and that the staff’s preparation for ADFA’s unique working environment needs to be improved’.[473]

Additionally, military staff required enhanced education in military justice to remove inconsistencies in approach and interpretation and allow for greater transparency.

Accommodation facilities were considered by the Kafer Review to be largely satisfactory.


[467] The Board is chaired by the Deputy Commandant, ADFA and comprises the Chief Instructor, the Executive Officer – Cadets, the Senior Psychologist, a medical officer (as appropriate), a Service Career Management representative and a Padre. Also in attendance are individual cadet’s Divisional Officer and Commanding Officer.

[468] Australian Defence Force Academy, Report of the review into the policies and practices to deal with sexual harassment and sexual offenses,Department of Defence (1998), p ix.

[469] Australian Defence Force Academy, above, p ix.

[470] A Podger, C Harris and R Powell, Final Report of the Learning Culture Inquiry: Inquiry into the Learning Culture in ADF Schools and Training Establishments, Department of Defence (2006), p v.

[471] CDRE BJ Kafer, Report of the Review of the Australian Defence Force Academy Military Organisation and Culture, ADFA 2010/1104615/1 (2010), p 6.

[472] CDRE BJ Kafer, above, p 6.

[473] CDRE BJ Kafer, above, p 6.