Transforming Information Access for Australia’s Defence Community

  • 2023

  • Digital
    Web Design and Development

Commissioned By:

Department of Defence

Designed In:


CEC helped the Department of Defence address urgent recommendations from the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
CEC facilitated the co-design process with Defence, DVA, serving and ex-serving members, their families and representatives to create a single point of access experience for individuals to access their personal information.

  • MORE
  • The Royal Commission found significant confusion and lack of transparency about how Defence and DVA store and release personal information about current or ex-serving ADF members. Individuals were unclear where and how to access their own personal information, and when information was released, it was often heavily redacted with little explanation. These complex and convoluted processes were distressing and fostered distrust, particularly in the case of family members seeking information about their loved one who had died by suicide. The Royal Commission gave five recommendations relating to the information access experience requiring implementation by March 2023.

  • We designed a new experience of accessing information from the Department of Defence through co-design, involving nearly 100 participants around Australia in thirteen sessions. We co-designed ideas withmembers, ex-serving members, families and representatives about what the future state experience should look like. These were carried forward into the detailed design of a new business directorate within Defence that would provide a simple, streamlined, and easy single point to access personal information from the Department. Individuals now have a go-to place to request information, which can be done through varying channels, and to obtain information on the end-to-end process.

  • Through this collaboration and co-design, Defence was equipped with artefacts, tools and empathetic mindset required to deliver a new desirable experience of accessing information. The Department launched this new directorate in March 2023. It provides a trauma-informed and empathetic experience which puts individuals first and makes information easily accessible when they need it most. Within its first month, 1900 requests and enquiries were received, both online and over the phone, with warm transfers established between the Department of Defence and DVA. The business area has a team of 19 and strives to deliver empathetic and consistent experiences for individuals.

  • Trauma-informed Design Process During co-design, we heard first-hand experiences of accessing information, and ideated for the future state. Making this process trauma-informed was essential to ensure participants felt safe, heard, and valued. Trauma-informed Principles We committed to making the outputs trauma-responsive, acknowledging the varying contexts of those accessing information and their differing needs. This revealed that we needed to embed choice for people in how they wanted to interact with the Department. This meant our designs included options for those who wanted more and less touchpoints, varying channels, detailed information and high-level overviews. Co-design Co-design was supported by stakeholder workshops and consultation across 16 business areas within the Department to consistently negotiate the balance of feasibility, desirability, and viability of the participants’ ideas. Front and back-end During design, we considered the new business directorate holistically. Facing the customer, we designed website pages and online forms which simplified, streamlined, and clarified the process of accessing information. We created communication materials and an overarching communication toolkit which detailed the needs of customers and ways to address these. In the back-end, we created the foundations of new policies which ensured consistency and accountability of the Department in releasing and redacting information.