Message from the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO, to the Australian Army following the announcement on Thursday, 13 June 2013 of civilian police and Defence investigations into allegations of unacceptable behaviour by Army members.
Earlier today, I addressed the media, and through them the Australian public. about ongoing investigations in a group of officers and NCOs, whose conduct, if proven, has not only brought the Australian Army into disrepute, but has let down every one of you and all of those whose past service has won the respect of our nation.
There are limits on how much I can tell you because the investigations into this network by both the New South Wales Police and the ADF investigative service are ongoing. But evidence collected to date has identified a group of men within our ranks who have allegedly produced highly inappropriate material demeaning women and distributed it across the Internet and the [??]’s email networks. If this is true, then the actions of these members are in direct contravention to every value the Australian Army stands for.
By now, I assume you know my attitude toward this kind of conduct. I have stated categorically many times that the Army has to be an inclusive organization in which every soldier, man and woman, is able to reach their full potential, and is encouraged to do so. Those who think that it is okay to behave a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this Army. Our service has been engaged in continuous operations since 1999, and in its longest war ever in Afghanistan. On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us, maintaining our capability now and into the future.
If that does not suit you, then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable, but I doubt it. The same goes for those who think that toughness is built on humiliating others. Every one of us is responsible for the culture and reputation of our Army, and the environment in which we work. If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it. No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or or degradation of others enhances capability or honours the traditions of the Australian Army.
I will be ruthless in ridding the Army of people who cannot live up to its values, and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. That goes for all of us, but especially those who by their rank have a leadership role.
If we are a great national institution, if we care about the legacy left to us by those who have served before us, if we care about the legacy we leave to those who in turn will protect and secure Australia, then it is up to us to make a difference. If you’re not up to it, find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters.