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An Article with Clarity of Thought

#1
Well for starters it wasn't written by an officer - where it should of come from, and definitely not a journo - because it contains truth.

Defence force behaviour is better than you think - Opinion - Editorial - General - The Canberra Times

[h=1]Defence force behaviour is better than you think[/h]
BY NEIL JAMES
30 Jan, 2012 01:00 AM
Media coverage of bad and criminal behaviour in our defence force has led many Australians to assume, incorrectly, that problems such as alcohol abuse, sexual harassment and youth suicide are prevalent in our defence force and occur at rates far higher than community norms or in other professions and industries.
It has also led to two widespread but mistaken public assumptions.

First, that the Australian Defence Force is somehow much different, or should be morally and culturally perfect, compared to the rest of Australia, despite it being disproportionately full of young Australians.

Second, that the force's problems are systemic in nature and the product of a supposedly institutionalised and dysfunctional culture, despite every independent inquiry into incidents of ADF misbehaviour concluding the opposite.

Bad or criminal behaviour in our defence force cannot be totally avoided, just as it cannot be totally stamped out in Australia generally.

But it does occur at markedly lower rates in the ADF than in society at large and in most, perhaps all, other professions and industries.

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, has noted that rates of sexual harassment (and particularly sexual assault) at the Australian Defence Force Academy are much lower by orders of magnitude than those occurring in Australia's civil universities and TAFEs and that she is unable to quantify the difference in detail only because the civil tertiary institutions keep inadequate records and are not as transparent and publicly accountable as our defence force.

The community's cognitive dissonance about ADF misbehaviour mainly results from three causes.
First, most Australians now have such little personal, or even extended family, experience of military service or war that they no longer ''get'' their defence force and are prone to misunderstandings, misconceptions or unreasonable expectations.

This ignorance is exacerbated because relevant knowledge is assumed, wrongly, merely from exposure to fictional TV programs, films and computer games.
Second, context and balance are often ignored:

- The ADF is the third-largest employer in the country, but the number of reported incidents is usually not considered proportionally, or in context about what are national (not sectoral) problems;
- Over 50per cent of ADF personnel are aged under 25 and two-thirds under 30 - a disproportionately young workforce compared to most professions and industries;
- In terms of workplace conditions they also often live together collectively for all or most of every day, often for long periods and, at times, under considerable group and individual stress rather than, as civilians do, just work or study together for a minority proportion of each day ;
- Working in the ADF is by necessity more of a stressful environment operationally, even in training or exercising for war, than nearly all other professions;
- ADF personnel are subject to the Defence Force Discipline Act as well as ordinary criminal law. This leads to false public assumptions that disciplinary proceedings and punishments for minor matters necessarily involve serious civil criminal offences; and
- Young men and women in the ADF are just as Australian as anyone else. They are not some form of moral praetorian guard somehow immune by nature to the social problems affecting Australian society generally.

Third, much of the inaccurate media coverage and consequent public misunderstanding is because the ADF is an easy target for lazy, unscrupulous or otherwise unprofessional journalism.

People are naturally interested in our defence force. It is also accountable, keeps good and publicly accessible records, and has a culture of encouraging complaints and usually acting swiftly on them (especially compared to most civil professions and industries).

This enables the easy exploitation of stories sensationally, rather than reporting of them accurately or in context. And it enables the media to avoid having to research or report on much worse, but less publicly recorded, misbehaviour in other Australian institutions and industries.

Public confusion also occurs through the same ADF incidents being reported over and over again by the media as new when they are not.

Finally, as a contextual example using publicly available figures, the annualised rate of serious sexual incidents in the ADF (using the widest possible definition), appears to be under one in 5000 (or 0.02per cent of the Defence workforce).

Moreover, during the, largely misinformed, public furore over the non-consensual filming incident at ADFA last year, did any journalist in the country ever survey any of Australia's 38 civil universities to discover how many similar or worse incidents had happened at each and how they had been handled?

Especially given that that last year's national survey of 1500 female university students by the National Union of Students claimed that one-third of female tertiary students have been sexually harassed or assaulted.

This seemingly stark, invidious comparison to the one serious incident among some 200-250 female cadets at ADFA has unfortunately been ignored by nearly all journalists and far too many Australians.

Neil James is executive director of the Australia Defence Association.
 
M

Mark The Convict

Guest
#3
My admittedly vague impression of James is that he's generally either fairly supportive of the ADF or at least measured in his criticisms.
 
#4
Correct in the author - Neil James being an ex officer. I only wish that the article was written by a serving 'senior' officer somewhere at the executive level of the ADF. Methinks that the current serving batch are too shit scared of the minister, and saving their worthless careers.
 
#6
Correct in the author - Neil James being an ex officer. I only wish that the article was written by a serving 'senior' officer somewhere at the executive level of the ADF. Methinks that the current serving batch are too shit scared of the minister, and saving their worthless careers.
You want someone from the SES 2 level mate!

EL1/EL2/LTCOL/COL's make the tea and push paper round at Russell lunatic asylum.
 
#7
"Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, has noted that rates of sexual harassment (and particularly sexual assault) at the Australian Defence Force Academy are much lower by orders of magnitude than those occurring in Australia's civil universities and TAFEs and that she is unable to quantify the difference in detail only because the civil tertiary institutions keep inadequate records and are not as transparent and publicly accountable as our defence force."

You don't recruit Fijians then!
 
#8
Nice to read a more balanced approach.

Such a shame that the meeja only seem to be able to portray serving members of the military (and I can only go on UK meeja sources) as either thugs or heroes. And never the twain shall meet.

Thanks for publishing BB.
 
#9
Well, I posted it abliet within the Australian Forum, however, I do believe, having worked with you brits that the defence forces (army) aren't that dissimilar in ethos, so I guessed the article may have some relevancy to you guys.
 
#10
G'day all! Very interesting article BB and after being down under for almost three years now with family members in the ADF and working on and off with the DOD (as a civ) I agree with it.

Youre quite right the ethos between the Brits and Aussies is similar (as many of the laterals might agree) but I think overall they are very different Armies now and have been for a while. The contrast between my former lot and the Aus army with discipline problems is stark. Also the Aus media are even worse in how they try and dish as much dirt on the ADF over a trivial matter whilst at the same time running stories on the 'ANZAC spirit'. how great the diggers are etc.

Case in point: the three diggers caught drinking in Dubai or Kuwait( Please correct if Im wrong, cant find the news clipping) whilst on R & R from Ghan. They were ordered back to their unit to be charged, OZ media went mad over the story and I if I recall either Steven Smith or some one else in DoD had to hold a news conference in order to apologise! Imagine the same story this time with squaddies... not only caught drinking but they would have pissed on the bar, curled one out on the table, tried to shag the barmaid and generally caused an international incident! I.E. a good Daily Mail story.

Certainly ADF has its problems as the article states and you do hear the odd story of diggers in strife down town but generally I believe diggers are better behaved than my former lot.

Intresting that part of the ANZAC legend was the 'larrikinism'of the diggers (stickin it to the straight laced Pommies, getting into trouble in Egypt etc etc..) and that now adays it can be argued its the reverse!
 
#11
... not only caught drinking but they would have pissed on the bar, curled one out on the table, tried to shag the barmaid...
Apologies for blundering into your strange little part of the site, and not wishing to be offensive, as I know how sensitive some of you diggers can be, but...

What you describe here, I shit you not, are acts that occurred pretty much every weekend throughout the cold war years in BAOR. Usually before the main drinking session started. :)

And some folk are clamouring for a gong for this.

@ beagleboy. Informative post. (A bit like mine really.)
 

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