The Defence Service Charter is a short, plain-language document that sets out the quality of service customers can expect to receive from Defence. It assists Defence in focusing on the needs of its customers, the level of service it is committed to provide in its interactions with the public, and what it will do if it does not meet those goals. The underlying concept of the Service Charter is to ensure quality service to the community, though it also sets the standards that Defence people should adhere to when interacting with others within the organisation, and other agencies in our daily work.
The term 'customer' in the context of the charter refers to the people whom the organisation is seeking to serve, bearing in mind that Defence is not a traditional 'service provider' with a well-defined customer base. The charter also outlines avenues for taking up complaints, the means of commenting on the charter, and the way the charter is kept up to date.
By monitoring compliance with the charter and reviewing its requirements regularly, Defence aims to keep the charter current and challenging, so as to ensure that the quality of service provided is of the highest standard possible.
Defence reports annually to the Minister for Defence on the extent to which it is meeting the performance standards relating to the charter. The following is a full reprint of the report to the Minister.
The key performance standards in the Defence Service Charter are:
- dealings with customers will be handled in a professional and courteous manner;
- privacy and confidentiality will be observed;
- responses to any questions or complaints will be open and accurate;
- all telephone inquiries will be answered promptly during normal business hours;
- if Defence cannot answer a query immediately, officers will take customer contact details and ensure that a response is provided within two working days; and
- if a customer writes to Defence, a response will be sent, in writing, within 15 working days and will contain a contact name and telephone number.
If Defence does not meet these standards, officers will explain what has happened and try to rectify the situation. Defence will not hesitate to apologise if it is wrong.
Groups within Defence have systems in place to track compliments and complaints The following procedures have been put in place in relation to the type and extent of information collected:
- Monitoring and reporting, under Australian Standard 4269 on Complaints Handling, is targeted at external complaints/compliments (ie from members of the public) rather than at internal complaints. Complaints are reported only if they relate to services provided (ie the process), not to decisions made.
- Written complaints referred to first assistant secretary and military equivalents or above are recorded.
- Where a complaint is resolved either by the desk officer or within the regional office without recourse to senior levels, no information is recorded for service charter purposes.
- Information on feedback and compliments is collected by individual Groups from a variety of sources including surveys, conferences, orally to regional offices or bases, contact with customers or the general public.
Performance in 2002-03
During 2002-03, the Defence Service Charter was updated, providing a simplified charter that outlines the quality of service customers can expect to receive from Defence. The revised charter replaces the original Defence Service Charter issued in 1998.
Awareness of Charter
The Defence Service Charter is available electronically on the internal and external Defence websites . In 2002-03, a pamphlet and a poster were produced to reinvigorate awareness of the charter.
Copies of the new Defence Service Charter and poster were disseminated to those areas that deal directly with members of the public, including the Defence Community Organisation, Defence Force Recruiting offices, and civilian recruitment areas.
The avenues open to customers to complain or to provide feedback, together with contact details, are stated in the charter in a step-by-step format. They include phoning or writing to the particular area concerned, the supervisor of the area, or through the Ministers or Parliamentary Secretary, or the complainant's local Member of Parliament or Senator. There is also a dedicated email address email@example.com. In addition, customers can contact the Commonwealth Defence Force Ombudsman.