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Army's Cultural Renewal Legacy

25 February 2019

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Reform Initiatives

Army has a long and proud history which we have an obligation to protect and uphold. We are aware some incidents have highlighted the need for a more critical view of the culture in our organisation. The following initiatives are being implemented to support the move to a more inclusive and equal work environment while enhancing capability.  They will involve partnerships with outside organisations and direct engagement with our people.

First Principles Review

The First Principles Review highlighted the need for a stronger performance culture where leadership, professionalism and corporate behaviour are valued. This is supported by a transparent performance management system that recognises and rewards high performance and is linked to organisational outcomes. A key focus of the project is to create a high performance culture by ensuring each individual demonstrates the One Defence leadership behaviours.

The success of the initiative will create a change in workplace behaviour that will support the goal of high performance, and ensure that our people understand clearly what is expected of them and their role in the organisation. This means that all our people will know what is expected of them and work efficiently, employing values of transparency, honesty, trust and pride in what they do.

Pathway to Change

As Defence’s strategic cultural reform program, the Pathway to Change (PtC) initiative aims to create a powerful message of unity, leadership accountability and what we stand for as an organisation. The program has had a significant impact in the areas of diversity, support for victims of sexual misconduct, and alcohol-related harm awareness.

Unacceptable Behaviour Surveys

The unacceptable behaviour surveys help to measure the attitudes towards, and experiences of, unacceptable behaviour in Defence. The surveys are given to people across the organisation, including at training facilities. The surveys target a range of issues including workplace bullying, discrimination, abuse of power, physical assault (non-sexual) and sexual harassment or assault. The aim of these surveys is to gain a better understanding of what kind of unacceptable behaviour is occurring and to improve upon our existing reporting and prevention methods.

YourSay Organisational Climate Surveys

Having mechanisms to give feedback to senior management in an open and anonymous way is important as it gives our people the opportunity to share their views and experiences on a range of issues related to their employment. The YourSay surveys collect information on the attitudes of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members on a range of topics including conditions of service, job satisfaction, career management, behaviours in the workplace and work-life balance. The data is used to gain a better idea of the attitudes of staff, to help drive future cultural renewal activities and ensure they meet the expectations and needs of ADF and Australian Public Service members.

Australian Human Rights Commission collaboration

Our collaboration with the Australian Human  Rights Commission (AHRC) is designed to examine the department’s reform initiatives and programs to see whether any further investigation or assistance is required.


Our people are expected to lead by example and maintain a high level of personal and professional integrity at all times. The Army is an exemplar in the community, and is rightly held to higher standards than the rest of society. Therefore, we have a responsibility to always act in the best interests of ourselves and the Australian people. Army’s strong investment in leadership means we can ensure our leaders act as role models for their subordinates, and as champions of cultural change. Leaders at all levels should therefore take charge in building up strengths and encouraging all Army members to take responsibility for cultural change.

A Matter of Respect

This training aims to reinforce the standards of behaviour that are required of all our people. It is designed to help eliminate unacceptable behaviours including bullying, harassment, abuses of power, inappropriate workplace relationships, sexual harassment, discrimination, violence and the supportive bystander approach. It aims to encourage a meaningful discussion across our  Army about respect, and to raise awareness about these issues and how we can all play a part in addressing them. The training also supports the Mentors in Violence Prevention program.

Jonathan Church Ethical Soldier Award

This award recognises those who have displayed impeccable ethics, particularly in difficult situations. It also gives young soldiers and officers a chance to expand their knowledge of Australian military campaigns and act as an ambassador for Army’s values. Recipients are awarded a fully funded intensive overseas study tour of an Australian military campaign. Additionally, some recipients are also awarded a bronze statuette. By recognising non-traditional military skill not covered by other awards or competitions, the Jonathan Church ethical soldier award promotes the importance of living Army’s values and upholding the finest traditions of the Australian Army. It also shows how our values of courage, initiative, respect and teamwork can be applied in real situations. The initiative is intended to become part of a long-term investment in our Army’s future and to create role models that junior leaders can look up to.

Talent Management

Identifying opportunities to develop our people enables Army to build leadership capabilities within our organisation and create rewarding career paths. The leaders created by our talent management programs and initiatives will then go on to lead others, teaching them the values and behaviours that will create a change in culture over time. By putting our people first, we ensure Army can continue to serve Australia, honouring our proud history of excellence and service.

Enhanced Career Management Model

The requirements of the workforce are constantly changing and Army must continue to generate capability by maintaining a balance between retention of corporate knowledge and providing the most merit-worthy soldiers, senior non- commissioned officers, warrant officers (WO) and officers the opportunity to progress their careers.

The Enhanced Career Management (ECM) model provides a framework for the career management of Army’s members that acknowledges and addresses the unique capability provided, the career contribution they have made to Army, and the prospect of progression or transition. There are separate policies for soldiers, WO1s and officers that focus on articulation of the following themes:

  • Enhancing the opportunity for the development of female leaders
  • Providing exposure to diverse work practices
  • Greater recognition and consideration of skills gained from experiences gained outside of Army.

Through periodic review, the ECM model will continue to develop in order to provide an inclusive career management strategy that addresses individual expectations and meets Army’s current and evolving needs.

Executive coaching program

The executive coaching program is aimed at developing the skills of our senior leaders. The Chief of Army has committed to providing individual and group coaching sessions to senior leaders. The current coaching program focuses on communication, two-way feedback, managing difficult people and conversations and providing effective and inspiring leadership. This approach equips leaders with a wide range of skills and gives them the tools to manage staff and peers, as well as change and workplace diversity.

Army Industry and Corporate Development Program

The Army Industry and Corporate Development Program gives high performing senior non-commissioned officers, warrant officers and officers the opportunity to undertake outplacements in selected civilian organisations. Suitable candidates for the program are selected annually and invited to be part of the program as part of Army’s talent management program.  The targeted ranks for this program are sergeant to warrant officer class one, and mid-level captain to lieutenant colonel. Selected participants will be placed into industry appointments for a period of up to six months.  The placement organisation will normally be within the member’s posted locality. The aim of this program is to enhance the capability of Army’s people by broadening the perspective of future leaders through exposure to inclusive, diverse and successful leadership and management practices in high performing industry and corporate organisations.

Mentoring in Army

Mentoring in Army develops outstanding leaders at all levels and ensures they are suited to the diverse challenges of military service. This is achieved by combining mentoring programs with existing training and development initiatives. The successful implementation of this initiative has a number of benefits. It increases leadership capabilities, makes the organisation more attractive to potential employees and provides stronger career and developmental opportunities for all of our people. It also helps to maintain and develop the capability of the Australian Defence Force without bias or preference and provides developmental benefits for both the mentee and the mentor in terms of relationship building and leadership capacity.


Total Workforce Model

The Total Workforce Model (TWM) defines future ways of serving in the Australian Defence Force. The program provides a framework that enhances capability by utilising the total workforce more effectively. It creates new ways of serving and encourages greater mobility between service categories. TWM aims to improve work-life balance, formalise flexible career options, and build our capability to address future skill shortages. The TWM provides options to serve differently and flexibly, and to attract and retain the diverse talent necessary to meet capability needs now and into the future.

Physical Employment Standards (PES) and Physical Conditioning

Army’s Physical Employment Standards and physical conditioning program ensures each individual can meet a specified level of physical fitness. The standards have been developed with the assistance of human performance scientists, to maximise individual performance, rather than focusing on collective physical training methods. To assess an individual’s ability against the standards, the Physical Employment Standards Assessment (PESA) is completed. Prior to this, each person undertakes a minimum six-week period of physical conditioning to prepare them for the PESA. The PESA is based on muscular strength and muscular endurance, aerobic and anaerobic capacity. The standards for measuring each of these four capabilities have been developed based on the requirements of usual military tasks and are not based on gender-specific criteria. This allows everyone an equal opportunity to apply for any employment category and is key to the removal of gender restrictions. It is expected that individuals may therefore be able to work in physical roles for longer, have an improved ability to complete tasks and reduce their risk of injury.

Army Family and Domestic Violence Action Plan

Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) is a serious capability issue, and a risk to the health and safety of our people. This initiative aims to eliminate FDV from the Army, using education to bring about a shift in attitudes and behaviours in our Army ranks, and in society as a whole. The plan provides guidance on how to identify, prevent and safely intervene in situations of FDV while making sure victims are safe. It also aims to reinvent perpetrators of FDV, holding them accountable whilst trying to positively change their attitudes and behaviours. Army will continue to raise awareness of FDV into the future.

Force Protection Alcohol

Force Protection Alcohol is an initiative aimed at reducing harm caused by unsafe use of alcohol.  It was launched in support of the Chief of Defence Force’s Australian Defence Force Alcohol Management Strategy and Plan. The Force Protection Alcohol Junior Leaders Guide aims to guide the actions of Lieutenants, Sergeants and Corporals who are in a position to influence the attitudes and behaviours of their soldiers by modelling Army’s values and preventing alcohol misuse by their soldiers. It also gives advice on how to use alcohol responsibly and with low risk so our members can capably serve in our Army.

Flexible Work Arrangements

The Flexible Work Arrangements initiative is designed to help our people manage their Army careers around their personal responsibilities. Applications are open to all Army members, and are considered and negotiated on a case-by-case basis. The arrangements can include, but are not limited to: working from home, working variable hours, taking part-time leave without pay, working from another location or completing remote overseas work. These arrangements allow our people to enjoy a better work–life balance, and continue to contribute to our Army in a meaningful way. This helps prevent the loss of talented people and shows them they are valued by the organisation, providing a more mutually beneficial working relationship.


Army Support to Wounded, Injured or Ill Program

The Army Support to Wounded, Injured or Ill Program (A-SWIIP) aims to manage Army’s wounded, injured and ill members and help them remain in the Australian Defence Force, if possible; or transition out of service with dignity and respect. The program focuses fully on the member and is tailored to each individual circumstance. A-SWIIP also provides members with a network of resources and programs that go hand-in-hand with clinical treatment and formal rehabilitation. Through this program, members are reassured they will be taken care of if they become wounded, injured or ill. It also supports the Chief of Army’s directive to ensure the welfare and holistic recovery of these members. For members who cannot remain in service, a number of initiatives are available that focus on health and wellbeing, ensuring a smooth transition to independence.

Removal of Gender Restrictions

Removal of gender restrictions means that all Army members are equally able to apply for all employment categories. It also means that Physical Employment Standards are developed based on a scientific approach to determine what physical standards are required to do a trade, rather than basing standards upon gender-specific criteria. This gives all Army members an equal opportunity for employment in the Army and means we will enjoy a more diverse workforce with access to a wide range of perspectives and experiences. This initiative strengthens Army’s commitment to gender diversity and also aims to make the Army a more attractive employment option for women.

Mentors in Violence Prevention

Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) is a leadership program aimed at preventing gender-based violence.  It provides training for units across the Army so they can teach soldiers how to identify, interrupt and stop violence. MVP-trained Army members also help soldiers understand their role as ‘empowered bystanders’ who know how to interrupt and confront abusive behaviour if they witness it. Soldiers will then become leaders in gender-based violence prevention, and will be able to use their status and societal image to help bring about a shift in attitude towards these issues both inside and outside the Australian Defence Force. The program’s goals are to raise awareness, challenge thinking, open a dialogue and inspire leadership so that the abuse of women will soon be seen as completely socially unacceptable.

Diversity and Inclusion

Having a more diverse workforce means our Army can draw on a greater range of skills, increasing our capability and helping us attract and retain the best talent. Improving our diversity is also critical to making Army an employer of choice and ensures our workforce better represents Australian society. To assist in achieving our diversity targets, a number of initiatives are in place, including an overarching framework document that encompasses all efforts in this area.

Diversity and Inclusion Framework

Diversity is critical to achieving a culture of inclusion where all people feel valued and respected, have access to resources and can contribute their unique perspectives and talents to improve the organisation. The framework document ensures that our Army continues to be inclusive and equitable, and that all our people feel supported, safe and respected at work. It is able to evolve over time to suit the changing needs of the organisation and our people.

Women in the Army

Recruiting more women positions our Army to best anticipate the challenges that confront Australia into the future. Whilst the Department has set a target of 15% female representation in the Australian Defence Force by 2023, Army has set a target of 25% representation by 2025. A number of specific measures are in place to achieve these goals which aim to increase the rate of female enlistment, maximise female participation across Army, enhance development and career opportunities and increase overall female retention. In particular, Army’s Physical Employment Standards have removed barriers to women’s participation by providing scientific standards based on trade tasks to select the right person for a trade. Employment opportunities can then be selected on intellectual and physical ability, rather than gender. Since 2014, all in-service Army members, regardless of gender, may apply for employment in combat roles. This opportunity was then opened to external recruiting in 2016. This has ensured equality and a fair chance at every individual’s chosen role. The aim of this and other measures has been to enhance Army as an employer of choice, strengthen the retention of women in Army, and better incorporate and utilise the diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives women bring to Army’s capability.

Indigenous Strategy

Army has a long and proud history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service to country with first Australians having served with distinction from the Boer War to the present day. Army’s capability has always been enhanced through the diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives that Indigenous people bring into Defence. The Army Indigenous Strategy, which prioritises attraction, preparation and recruiting of Indigenous men and women builds on this in order to improve Indigenous participation as part of an inclusive and respectful workforce.

Defence is committed to the Whole of Government ‘Closing the Gap’ strategy. Army has set a goal of 5% Indigenous representation by 2025. This increase will further enhance and celebrate the contribution of Indigenous members to our overall capability.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Strategy

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex strategy is another aspect of Army’s continuing commitment to providing an inclusive workplace for all of our people. It focuses on educating and supporting our people to better enable individuals, leaders, teams and the organisation to continue towards a fully inclusive work environment. It is intended that this strategy continues to ensure that all Army’s people enjoy equal opportunities at work, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Last updated
27 February 2019
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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