Keep ex-Defence out of public service, bureaucrats plead

By Harley Dennett

Wednesday January 13, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Military men and women can be a bad fit in the public service and might want to consider employment elsewhere, according to some Defence bureaucrats.

Department of Defence analysis, produced last year and seen by The Mandarin, raises concerns that cultural differences between Navy, Army, Air Force and Defence APS can be a structural source of workplace bullying, mistreatment of women and other unacceptable behaviour. Problematic ADF members working as public servants or contractors are causing cultural friction even after shedding the uniform.

The same report — as The Mandarin exclusively revealed on Monday — suggested officers are sceptical of cultural change within the ADF, despite the efforts of senior brass to rid the ranks of sexism. A staff survey reported anecdotes from anonymous members complaining male bosses undermine efforts by not enforcing standards, enforcing them inconsistently and even through inauthentic body language.

Tribalism, the analysis noted, was a notable source of behaviour problems in integrated “joint” environments, supported by the frequency with which respondents to Defence’s unacceptable behaviour surveys blamed the cultures of other services for conflicts and mistreatment.

The challenges of a divided workforce manifested in ongoing inequalities in pay, accountability and “toleration of aggression”.

Tribalism against public servants has rankled the APS in Defence, spilling out into surveys Defence has undertaken as part of its culture change efforts. It included calls for ex-ADF members to be encouraged to seek work elsewhere instead of returning as APS or contractors.

What public servants think of ADF colleagues

“If they are no longer required for military duties, train them to look elsewhere for a career rather than engage non-commissioned mentalities into APS senior middle management.”

“There is a general culture of disdain for anyone how is not ADF, and particularly anyone who challenges attitudes and behaviours of the ADF. What makes this even worse is that too many ex-ADF people are in senior positions in the [Australian Defence Organisation] and they participate in and perpetuate this disdainful culture.”

“Most contractors are ex-ADF who have left the ADF as their personal attitudes and values no longer fit in with Defence values. Unfortunately they continue to work in the Defence workplace for private vendors and continue to display unacceptable behaviour that was not tolerated while they were in the ADF.”

“Some of them have no women in their Army or Navy culture in the past and don’t know how to react appropriately. These same ex warrant officers or officers have a strong esprit de corps and do not take easily to civilians who they work with unless they are in a supporting minor role. Defence is partly to blame as it recruits heavily from ex-military.”

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