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Waltzing Australia

WALTZING AUSTRALIA
WALTZING AUSTRALIA

Monday, June 20, 2011

26. Murder and a Sex Scandal 2

Academy head should have expelled cadets

The head of the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) should have expelled seven men involved in the Skype sex scandal, a former defence department secretary says.

Paul Barratt became head of the department in late 1997, shortly after the Howard government launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of sexual harassment and sexual assault policies at ADFA.

The veteran public servant says ADFA commandant Bruce Kafer, who has been suspended, needed to explain why he allowed seven young men to continue studying at the college after the "Skype incident" sex scandal.

The incident became public after an 18-year-old woman went public with how she was filmed having sex with a student, only to have six males watch an internet broadcast of it in another room.

The men involved are still at ADFA.

"I'm surprised at the way this was handled," Mr Barratt told ABC Television on Monday.

"How anyone could come to the conclusion that the behaviour of the seven male cadets would be dealt with as a misdemeanour is very surprising to me.

"It seemed to me to be egregiously serious and I would have been expecting the commandant of ADFA, immediately, to ask all seven of those young men to show cause why they shouldn't have been marched out the gate of ADFA."

Six inquiries into the culture of Defence have been launched.

Commodore Kafer was sent on leave on Saturday, Defence Minister Stephen Smith said on Monday.
Mr Barratt said Commodore Kafer needed to explain his decision, adding he saw no future for the seven men in the Australian Defence Force.

7 News AAP April 12, 2011.

Defence reform long overdue

Scroll down and listen to Derryn's editorial and passionate debate with Neil James of the Australian Defence Assoication.

The response was predictable. Within minutes of the announcement that women would no longer be banned from front-line duties in the Australian military the sexist jokes were out there.

Twitter was a twitter with such savoury lines as ‘when female soldiers get their periods they’ll start fragging their senior officers’.

Fragging being a Vietnam War term for tossing a grenade into an officer’s tent.

The decision by Defence Minister Stephen Smith to remove all combat barriers for females is long overdue. It was sexist. It was discriminatory. Not that Australia has been alone.

In Britain and the United States there are still restrictions on women serving in front line combat roles. In New Zealand there are no restrictions. In Israel, it is surprising that, it is only in the past decade that more combat positions have been opened up for females when young women have been conscripted, the same way as men, for about fifty years.

And in Germany women were allowed to take up combat roles after an European Court test case in 2001.

What people are not realising, in what will be a predictably shrill debate, is that frontline action and membership of such elite groups as the SAS will not come automatically.

As Stephen Smith pointed out: ‘When it comes to women in the ADF, including in combat roles, an opportunity for women should be determined on the basis of physical and intellectual capacity, not on gender’.

And that’s the way it should be. That’s the criteria that should and will be followed. It will mean that some women, despite their career ambitions, won’t make it. Maybe a lot of them.

There are men who dream of joining elite units like the SAS who don’t make it because they don’t reach the physical and mental standards required.

Right now, only 13% of Australian Defence Force personnel are female. Most are in the Navy. Less than 10% are in the Army.

Little wonder places like the Australian Defence Force Academy have been such bastions of chauvinism.

Little wonder that complaints of sexual harassment and assault have either been ignored or badly handled.

And one more thing: How come the academy chief has been sent on forced leave while the so-called Skype Incident is investigated? The female cadet who was the target of the predatory prank has been sent on compassionate leave. But the fellow cadet who premeditatedly set up the dirty picture show, and his six mates who watched in another room, have not been suspended.

As I said yesterday, if this were a university campus, those Neanderthals would have at least been suspended, if not expelled, by now. But then, this is the military. And they do things differently.

Posted by: Derryn Hinch | 12 April, 2011.

Smith reads riot act after webcam sex scandal

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has warned Defence Force personnel that inappropriate conduct "cannot and will not be tolerated", after allegations of a webcam sex scandal at Canberra's Australian Defence Force Academy.

Defence has called in the Federal Police to investigate claims male cadets secretly used a webcam to broadcast live footage of one of their number having consensual sex with an 18-year-old female colleague.

The woman, known only as 'Kate', told the Ten Network she did not know she was being filmed and said she was "physically ill" when Defence investigators told her what had happened.

Speaking this morning, Mr Smith said, if true, the allegations constituted the "greatest betrayal of trust" that could happen in a workplace.

He said the men involved will be sacked from the Academy and the Defence Force if the allegations are proven.

"I can't think of a greater betrayal of trust of a colleague in the workplace than the suggestions that have been made," Mr Smith said.

"Once that trust has been destroyed then it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the person who has broken that trust to remain as a Defence Force personnel member."

He said the incident brought the reputation of the Academy and the Defence Force itself into question and warned that Defence chiefs "will not tolerate conduct that is inappropriate, sexist, conduct which vilifies women, or conduct which is inappropriate in any way that goes to the dignity and civility of workmates".

He said ADF personnel needed to understand the breaking of the ADF's standards of conduct "will not be condoned".

"Conduct of the nature I've described cannot and will not be tolerated," he said.

He said the ADF has worked hard to change its culture with regard to the treatment of women but added that "quite clearly, much more work needs to be done".

"The Australian Defence Force and its personnel cannot do their work effectively in the national security interests of the Commonwealth unless there is trust in the workplace," he said.

Australian Federal Police officers are investigating the allegations to see if any federal or Australian Capital Territory laws have been broken.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she would not comment directly on the case because of the ongoing investigations.

But she said, in broad terms, any conduct of that nature was "disgusting" and would be "repudiated" by Australians.

"Any conduct that treats a woman in a way that her dignity is pushed aside, that engages in misusing trust, breaching trust, going out of the way to embarrass people and strip them of dignity and a sense of self worth is disgusting conduct and we would all repudiate it - it's not what we want to see in this country," Ms Gillard said.

She said no-one who joins the ADF should "have their trust abused and their dignity subject to assault".

"We've seen some incidents in the past which were unacceptable," Ms Gillard said.

"I meet terrific young men and women dedicating their lives to the protection of this country and I want them respected in every sense of that word."

The latest sex scandal to hit the Defence Force comes after the final investigation into the activities on board HMAS Success finished recently.

That report said a "predatory sexual culture" existed on the ship, with senior sailors engaging in alcohol-fuelled public sex acts.

In recent weeks, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Russ Crane warned if behaviour does not improve he will introduce breath testing of all sailors in a bid to wipe out drunkenness.

"I don't want to have to do this but it will occur if I continue to see instances of poor and inappropriate behaviour," he said.

The new sex scandal is bad news for the Defence Force.

"Across the history of the ADF, particularly since the 1990s, there have been persistent incidences of the sexual abuse of women," Dr Ben Wadham, a senior lecturer in sociology and military culture specialist at Flinders University, told AM.

"The Australian Defence Force is a highly masculinised institution. It remains male-dominated.

"The institution may have made attempts to create gender equity but it hasn't addressed that principal question about its culture as one that persists where the culture is male-dominated and women remain guests in that environment."

By Jeremy Thompson

Updated Wed Apr 6, 2011. ABC News.

Defence investigates cadet sex video

The Defence Force has confirmed it has called in police to investigate sex allegations made by a first-year female cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

The 18-year-old, identified as 'Kate', says she had consensual sex with another first-year cadet but it was transmitted by Skype to six cadets in another room without her knowledge.

She told the Ten Network she only became aware of the incident when she was contacted by Defence investigators who were alerted by another cadet.

"It was like my whole world came crashing down around me," she said.

"They had to read the statements that the boys had to make and I actually threw up. I had to be asked to be excused from the interview because it made me physically ill."

She says still photos were also taken and "then distributed to other people".

"You see it on the TV and you read it in the papers that these things happen but until it happens to you, you don't actually believe that these things happen," she said.

Academy chief Commodore Bruce Kafer says Australian Federal Police (AFP) will investigate the incident because the college is on federal land.

"If the perpetrators, or those alleged to have been involved, are found guilty of a crime, this could result in termination of their military careers," he warned.

The ACT branch of the Australian Federal Police is the body investigating whether a crime has been committed.

A spokeswoman told AM the AFP is investigating whether charges can be laid under the ACT's act of indecency legislation, or under Commonwealth telecommunications laws.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she would not comment directly on the case because of the ongoing investigations.

But she said in broad terms any conduct of that nature was "disgusting" and would be "repudiated" by Australians.

"Any conduct that treats a woman in a way that her dignity is pushed aside, that engages in misusing trust, breaching trust, going out of the way to embarrass people and strip them of dignity and a sense of self worth is disgusting conduct and we would all repudiate it - it's not what we want to see in this country."

Defence Minister Stephen Smith is expected to comment on the allegations today.

The latest sex scandal to hit the Defence Force comes after the final investigation into the activities on board HMAS Success finished recently.

That report said a "predatory sexual culture" existed on the ship, with senior sailors engaging in alcohol-fuelled public sex acts.

In recent weeks Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Russ Crane warned if behaviour does not improve he will introduce breath testing of all sailors in a bid to wipe out drunkenness.

"I don't want to have to do this but it will occur if I continue to see instances of poor and inappropriate behaviour," he said.

The new sex scandal is bad news for the Defence Force.

"Across the history of the ADF, particularly since the 1990s, there have been persistent incidences of the sexual abuse of women," Dr Ben Wadham, a senior lecturer in sociology and military culture specialist at Flinders University, told AM.

"The Australian Defence Force is a highly masculinised institution. It remains male-dominated.

"The institution may have made attempts to create gender equity but it hasn't addressed that principal question about its culture as one that persists where the culture is male-dominated and women remain guests in that environment."

- ABC/AAP.

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