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"Exploring New Avenues for AIC Accountability: The Potential Use of Mediation to Resolve Complaints About Australian Intelligence Organisations"

By Ian B. Wells and Rachael M. Field


Public complaints about the operations of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) are increasing. The Inspector-General of Intelligence Services (IGIS) reported in 2002 that "the number of complaints leading to preliminary or full inquiries more than doubled from the previous reporting year". This increase in complaints is ostensibly not reflective of "any lowering of standards by the agencies", but rather results from a number of external factors which have "raised public consciousness of intelligence and security matters." For example, the rise in global terrorism and consequential increase in AIC activity, heightened media publicity about Intelligence issues, and public debate about related controversial federal legislation, including counter-terrorism proposals.\ud \ud This article considers the way in which complaints about the AIC are currently dealt with through the office of the IGIS and looks at the possibility of incorporating mediation into the IGIS’ complaints resolution practice. The current mode of handling complaints is formal, resource intensive and does not bring the relevant parties face-to-face to discuss the issues in dispute. Whilst this system on the face of it, holds the AIC accountable, it does not necessarily lead to complainant or agency satisfaction with the process or outcome. The contemporary complaints environment offers significant potential for an increase in the use of informal dispute resolution methods such as mediation. This is because informal processes offer greater opportunities for transparency in AIC agency accountability as well as, resource savings, efficiency and flexibilit

Publisher: Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers
Year: 2003
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