Transgressions by members of the Defence force are increasingly being sanctioned administratively instead of through the Defence Force Discipline Act, as survey results show members have little confidence in the system.
Administrative sanctions against members for offences like misuse of alcohol, civil offences, failing a fitness test and unsatisfactory conduct rose by 13 per cent between 2016-17 and 2017-18, while trials and convictions through the court martials, defence force magistrate trials and summary trials dropped 8 per cent.
The figures are included in the Inspector General for the Australian Defence Force's annual report for 2017-18, which also showed defence force members had little trust in the military justice system.
"Since FY2015-16 the use of administrative sanctions has increased (by almost 27 per cent), most likely offsetting the gradual decline in the use of the DFDA," the report said.
The shift in disciplinary cases came after a review of the Summary Discipline System in 2016, which responded to concerns about the complexity and excessive delays in the system.
Out of the 1130 administrative sanctions handed out, 405 were formal warnings, 313 were counselling, and 67 were censures. Some 216 had their service terminated and another 69 were suspended from duty.
Alcohol misuse was covered both with disciplinary convictions and administrative sanctions, with 185 convictions recorded where alcohol was a contributing factor, and another 35 convictions for alcohol related offences committed on deployment. A further 253 administrative sanctions were handed down for misuse of alcohol.
A voluntary survey, to which more than 10,000 ADF members responded, in September 2017 found just 47 per cent of respondents found the discipline system is fairly and consistently applied and just 59 per cent agreed the Defence Force Discipline Act was an effective tool for the maintenance of discipline.
Focus groups surveyed on the same questions returned more favourable answers, with 74 per cent of those believing the system was fair and consistent and 80 per cent agreeing the Act was an effective tool for maintaining discipline.