Public Affairs and Corporate Communication Division provided specialist communication advice and services to the conduct of a range of Defence activities, including military operations. The division deployed personnel and guided the public affairs handling of Defence involvement in the coalition operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a number of other continuing military operations. The year also saw a realignment of the division's services and products, with issues management and support to military operations the highest priority.
The Defence Overarching Organisational Communications Strategy was updated in 2003-03, reflecting the changing priorities and operational commitments for Defence. Covering the period 2001-04, the strategy provides Defence's long-term public affairs and corporate communication objectives. The following details Public Affairs and Corporate Communication's key results against the goals of the strategy.
Results for 2002-03
Goal 1 - Raised awareness of the Government's defence policy and increased community understanding of, and confidence in, Defence
- Provision of a comprehensive media liaison function, with approximately 19,000 media inquiries and 800 media releases and alerts.
- Deployment of public affairs teams to several international locations and provision of direct public affairs support to military operations, embedding military public affairs specialists at the strategic, operational and tactical level of command. This facilitated the production of 42 live-to-air media briefings in support of Operation Falconer.
- Implementation of the Defence 2020 Education Resource Program. The program was developed in association with teachers and utilises Defence 'case studies' to give students a greater understanding of the broader functions of Defence and defence-related issues. Fourteen one-day Youth Challenges, where students are presented with hypothetical scenarios, were run as part of the program and were well received by both students and teachers. Copies of the resource program were distributed to more than 3,100 secondary schools.
- Delivery of the Defence 'Below the Line'1 recruiting program. The campaign supported a cohesive, integrated and strategic approach to external Defence recruitment communication and included the production of recruitment articles for local and regional newspapers, coordination of sponsorship and recruiting exhibitions. ADF recruitment has improved throughout the life of this program.
- Support to more than 64 career-oriented trade shows, public displays and media launches.
- Support to more than 600 events and community relations activities, including official farewell and welcome home events for troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and the national 'welcome home' marches in Sydney and Perth.
- Coordination of a 'messages to the troops' facility that resulted in more than 18,000 email messages of support and a similar facility for messages of support to families.
- Response to more than 3,500 public inquiry calls.
- Management of the Defence Internet site, which recorded 1.96 million visits.
- Implementation of improved processes for receipt and dispatch of digital imagery, with approximately 1,000 image task requests managed.
- Compilation of approximately 250 hours of vision provided in response to TV station and production house requests. Production of 105 Defence video releases in support of public affairs activities.
- Redesign of the Defence Internet site in accordance with National Office of the Information Environment requirements. The new site will be launched in 2003-04.
- Refinement of a deployable public affairs capability through the conduct of an 18-month trial beginning in January 2002. Much of the trial was conducted during ADF operations, due to the nature of the ADF's commitments during the trial phase. While the trial has resulted in changes to structure and personnel preparation that have been implemented, work continues to update the ADF doctrine for public affairs in operations. The doctrine update is expected to be completed by the end of 2003-04.
- Partly because of operational tempo, the active roll-out of base public affairs plans has slowed.
- A review of competencies for personnel posted to military public affairs positions.
Goal 2 - Improved communication with the Government and stakeholders
- Implementation of a more effective method for distributing media summaries, which improved responsiveness on whole-of-government issues, particularly for operations.
- Development of more than 80 strategies and plans for responding to emerging issues.
- Development of an 'On Line Media Centre'. This web-based project will eventually offer media agencies Australia-wide a one-stop shop to answer commonly asked questions and offer more detailed fact sheets that will assist in the construction of stories. It will contain general statistical information, as well as the latest media alerts and releases and up-to-the-minute newsbreaks. All material will be collated to enable ease of access. Implementation is planned for 2003-04.
Goal 3 - More effective multi-dimensional internal communication that helps us do our job
- Expansion of a range of activities designed to broaden the exposure of Defence personnel at all levels to organisational communication, with an increased emphasis on personnel training.
- The division facilitated 49 recruiting category videos. The responsibility for producing recruiting and retention visual material passed to the Defence Force Recruiting Organisation from 1 July 2003.
- Enhanced integration of Service newspapers, maximising cost and content benefits through common printing tenders, common marketing and a common editorial approach.
- Redesigned Service newspaper websites, incorporating consistent themes and allowing a full search function.
- Establishment of editorial boards for internal Defence publications to set policy and have oversight of content.
- Development of processes to assist staff in media liaison with responding to inquiries.
A critical aspect of the Defence Overarching Organisational Communications Strategy was the development of a dedicated research capability. The research program has completed a second full year of data gathering, providing a baseline level for comparative findings.
Community attitudes research was conducted in two stages in 2002-03, first in November 2002 and again in April 2003. The research involved the conduct of phone polls and focus group discussions to produce quantitative and qualitative results. Phone poll participants responded to a series of questions, while focus group participants were involved in detailed discussions about specific Defence topics. The major results are shown below:
- Most indicators of community support for Defence and ADF deployments remained high. Community pride in the ADF has returned to 86 per cent, equal to the highest level recorded (April 2002) since this research began in the 1980s.
- Support for most ADF deployments and Defence tasks remains above 70 per cent. November 2002 research indicated, however, that this support was unevenly distributed among demographic and age segments, with younger, tertiary educated and higher socio-economic level Australians having the least favourable view of Defence.
- Focus group research noted increased public attention to national security and defence issues and the role and performance of the ADF, reflecting concern about terrorism. Focus groups also revealed confusion about the different roles of Defence and other national security agencies in areas such as counter-terrorism and coastal surveillance.
External analysis of 43,149 items of mainstream Australian news media coverage on national security and Defence issues during 2002-03 rated the overall coverage as more than two-thirds favourable to Defence's reputation.
- 'Below the Line' communication refers to activities that vary from traditional media advertising, which is referred to in the media industry as 'above the line'. The program includes a range of initiatives and activities to further target, inform, educate and attract recruits to careers within the ADF including, for example, community events and newspaper articles. |