Australian gov't orders review of Defense Force's culture

15:58, April 11, 2011      

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The Australian Federal Government on Monday announced a series of inquiries into the culture of the Defense Force, sparked by the recent cadet sex scandal at the Australian Defense Force Academy (ADFA).

The announcement came after an 18-year-old female Australian Defense Force Academy (ADFA) cadet went public with her story of how a male cadet secretly filmed her having sex with him and broadcast it to six others.

According to Defense Minister Stephen Smith, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick will lead an examination of the treatment of women at the ADFA. She will also review strategies for encouraging women into Defense leadership.

"This will be an important step in commencing a far-reaching cultural appraisal and on-going change program for Defense," Smith said in a statement released on Monday.

Australian barrister Andrew Kirkam QC, meanwhile, will conduct a parallel inquiry into the webcam sex scandal.

There will also be reviews into "other cultural change areas" such as binge drinking and the use of social media.

Smith said he was aware the Skype incident had encouraged others to come forward with allegations of misconduct at the defense academy and the Australia Defense Force.

Those complaints needed to be dealt with "carefully, exhaustively and methodically", he said, adding that Department of Defense Secretary Ian Watt will commission external legal advice to see how those complaints might warrant further consideration.

Currently, women are excluded from such roles as clearance diving teams, infantry, armor, artillery, combat engineers and airfield defense guards, and Smith said the chief of the defense force would bring forward a plan to allow women to undertake combat roles.

"When it comes to women in the Australia Defense Force, including in combat roles, an opportunity for women should be determined on the basis of physical and intellectual capacity not on gender," Smith said.

"So the chief of the defense force will bring forward that matter as a matter of priority."

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has backed the inquiry.

"Let's hope the inquiry gets to the bottom of any problems in the culture of this institution," he told ABC News on Monday.

Last week's sex scandal came after the release of final investigation into the activities on board of Navy HMAS Success.

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

Source: Xinhua
 
 
     
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
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