Increase in complaints to IGADF following Afghanistan Inquiry

By Anna Macdonald

July 18, 2022

Australian Defence Force and Special Air Services (SAS) in Afghanistan exhibit at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra
The IGADF Annual Report 2020-21 showed 116 submissions for the year. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

There has been an increase in submissions to the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF), which the organisation attributes in part to the media attention on the Afghanistan Inquiry.

The $7.243 million Afghanistan inquiry, also known as the Brereton report, involved war crimes in Afghanistan. Defence Force chief Angus Campbell and Defence secretary Greg Moriarty have accepted responsibility for the outcomes of the report, as previously reported in The Mandarin

The IGADF has stated it has intervened in the defamation case of former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith against Nine’s mastheads ‘in order generally to preserve the integrity of IGADF inquiry processes and particularly to protect information from public disclosure that was created or obtained by the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry’, according to the report. 

Roberts-Smith is suing the publications for the reporting of his alleged participation in war crimes in Afghanistan, which he has denied. 

The IGADF Annual Report 2020-21 released last week said there were 116 submissions for the 2020-2021 report, a jump from the 66 submissions from the previous period. 

The office has said not every complaint was ‘well-articulated’, and it was working with complainants to understand what outcome they wish by making the complaint.  

There was an increase in complaints relating to Military Police professional standards, with 49 complaints up from 25. After assessments, four were investigated as disciplinary matters and the rest were dealt with administratively.

The median time for closure was 325 days, with the office attributing the impacts of COVID to lengthening the time. For example, face-to-face interviews were unable to be conducted. 

The pandemic also impacted the office’s ability to meet ‘desired’ timeframes, again citing travel restrictions as to why the timeframes of the process were drawn out. 

Results from focus groups of ADF personnel found 25% believed they had experienced ‘unacceptable behaviour’, although 82% thought appropriate action would be taken if they reported the behaviour. 77% were confident in their chain of command in their ability to resolve complaints. 

Aligning with past survey results, the report further found a decrease in unacceptable behaviour correlating with an increase in confidence that the chain of command would act against unacceptable behaviour. 


READ MORE:

Dark cloud over our Afghanistan role, as war crime allegations mar the legacy

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