The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO today announced the suspension of three members of the Australian Army and that action had been initiated to consider the suspension of another five Army members, pending the outcome of civilian police and Defence investigations into allegations of unacceptable behaviour.
The investigations relate to evidence that a group of officers and non-commissioned officers of the Australian Army allegedly produced and distributed highly inappropriate material demeaning women, across both Defence computer systems and the public internet.
The production and distribution of the material dates back to 2010 and also appears to make veiled reference to drug use.
“There is no place for this behaviour in our Army, and in a Defence Force that prides itself on teamwork, courage and respect, and where women and men work alongside each other as colleagues and professionals,” Lieutenant General Morrison said.
“It brings the Australian Army into disrepute and betrays all those whose service has established its enviable status among our citizens.
“I am, of course, cognisant of the need to keep an open mind and to let the evidence speak in regard to how these men are dealt with, but I view the allegations that are being made in the gravest light.”
The three Army members already suspended are the subject of an ongoing investigation by New South Wales Police.
The Army today initiated action to consider the suspension of another five members who are the subject of a parallel Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS) investigation into a number of alleged Service offences. The ADFIS investigation is also ongoing.
Pending the outcome of the ongoing ADFIS investigation, the Army may consider further suspension decisions against nine others if the circumstances warrant.
ADFIS is also investigating a further 90 individuals who have been identified as peripheral to the group’s email exchanges. These 90 individuals are predominantly Army members.
Where any serious case is proven, the Chief of Army is resolved to take every step available to remove the individual responsible from the Army.
“If proven, these allegations could lead to the imposition of punishment, to these individuals being discharged from the Australian Army,” Lieutenant General Morrison said.
“After the significant effort we have made to encourage women to enlist and remain in the Army, I am extremely concerned at what appears to have been uncovered.
“In the wake of the ADFA ‘Skype’ case, and the series of inquiries and reviews into various aspects of the ADF culture and military justice over the last 20 years, the leadership of the ADF no longer accepts the ‘bad apple’ argument when one of these incidents occurs.
“These behaviours are symptoms of a systemic problem and we will continue to address them in a comprehensive manner, through Defence’s Pathway to Change strategy.”
Army and Defence are engaging with and providing support to those women who have been affected by these allegations.
Defence is also providing support to those personnel who are the subject of these allegations.
A transcript of today’s media conference will be available at http://news.defence.gov.au/.
Images from the media conference will be available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20130335.
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999