Cultural Change: Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Australian Federal Police

AFP Diversity report released

On 22 August 2016, AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin released the report Cultural Change:  Gender Diversity and Inclusion in the Australian Federal Police (PDF, 2MB), following an independent review of the organisation by former Sex Discrimination Commissioner,  Elizabeth Broderick.

The report followed extensive consultation with more than 1,000 AFP members over the past six months.

A number of key themes emerged during the review process:

  • the importance of strong leadership to cultural reform;
  • the differential impacts of AFP culture on men’s and women’s experiences;
  • high rates of sexual harassment and bullying in the AFP;
  • barriers to and opportunities for increased women’s representation in the AFP workforce; and,
  • the challenge of combining a police career with family.

The review highlights strong and courageous leadership as an essential ingredient of cultural change.

While many in the AFP described the organisation as a supportive and respectful workplace, the rates of sexual harassment and bullying reported in the survey were alarming. Overall, 29% of survey respondents reported being subjected to at least one work-related incident of sexual harassment in the last five years, with 64% of survey respondents reporting being subjected to workplace bullying over the same period.

What the AFP is doing about it?

The report urges against rushing in to take action and advises that the AFP listen and reflect in order to fully understand both our past and possible futures.

Against this backdrop, a number of changes will occur immediately, with a particular emphasis upon continued organisational attention to safety and respect within our workplace. Most notably, as recommended in the report, an independent unit, AFP Safe Place and Investigations, has been established to provide support to complainants and to investigate sexual harassment and abuse. The unit will employ a victim-focussed approach and will be headed by Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson who will report directly to the Commissioner.

Statement of Commitment for cultural reform

Recommendation Three from the Cultural Change report was for the Commissioner and the SLG to develop and deliver a clear and strong written statement (signed by all) that articulates the case for change and signals their commitment to the full implementation of the Project’s recommendations.

Further information and support

The AFP Safe Place and Investigations team has been established to provide confidential advice, support, advocacy for victims/targets of “workplace harm” and victim-determined investigations. Services are available to both current and former employees and their families. They can be contacted via email:

For current serving members, general support and advice can be obtained through the Confidant Network.


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