General David Morrison



City Recital Hall, Sydney
26 February 2015

LT GEN. MORRISON sent shock waves through the Australian Army last year when he identified ‘a systemic problem’ of sexism, unacceptable standards of behaviour and other issues in the Army’s culture. He has now taken on the herculean job of changing that culture, telling those who can’t respect each other to ‘get out’, and setting targets to increase the numbers of women.

The Army Chief said, in an address broadcast on YouTube, and viewed by 1.5 million people, that he would be ‘ruthless’ in ridding the service of people who could not live up to the values he wants to Army to enshrine: ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept,’ he said.

In a frank and personal conversation Lt Gen Morrison spoke about the series of disturbing and often uncomfortable conversations with young female soldiers who had been subjected to appalling and confronting behaviours and the challenges of changing the culture of a large and historic organisation.

Lt. Gen Morrison retires on 15 May but his vision for more diverse and inclusive army will live on.
“Whoever takes over from me, I think has got no choice but to continue the momentum for change,” he said.

Audience reaction was overwhelming.

“What emerged was a captivating and compelling conversation exploring some real issues in the build up to International Women’s Day next week.”
Dani Matthews Client Development Partner at Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IECL)

“WOW Anne Summers what an absolutely fabulous night!!!! David Morrison rocks!!!! I love his energy. We were so captivated, especially my husband!’
Rose Dana (via Facebook)

Anne Summers profile of David Morrison appeared in the February 2015 edition of Anne Summers Reports, you can read it here.


TRANSCRIPT:  

with Lt General David Morrison AO, Chief of Army, Australian Defence Force

City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney

26 February 2015

 

Anne Summers:         Good evening everybody, and welcome to this, the fourth of the Anne Summers’ Conversations Event Series. As you will remember, the first of these was with Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister. The next was exactly a year ago in this very venue with environmentalist Tim Flannery, and last June we had a conversation with double Academy Award-winning actor Cate Blanchett.

Tonight, we’re privileged to have the head of the Australian Army, General David Morrison, who I will introduce in a minute. I think we’re in for a fascinating evening. It’s not every night you can sit down with a General and have a frank discussion about sensitive issues to do with the military, but that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing tonight.

Before I introduce him, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to the elders past and present. This place is, was and always will be, Aboriginal land and I thank the owners for allowing us to share it.

Now, I’d like to introduce to you the man who, during his 36-year military career, has commanded the second battalion and the third brigade, been Director of General Preparedness and Plans for the Army, the Commander of the Australian Defence College, the Deputy Chief of Army and the Army Forces Commander based here in Sydney at Victoria Barracks.

He has twice been awarded the Order of Australia. In 2011, he was made Chief of the Australian Army. Please welcome Lieutenant General David Morrison.

[claps]

Well, that’s an enthusiastic welcome. I think you’re a popular person, David.

David Morrison:         I bet Cate Blanchett got a better one.

Anne Summers:         Well, I would say it was different. We’ve decided that rather than being the General and the Doctor tonight, it would just be David and Anne and be informal. I would like to begin our conversation by referring to the video that of course was what made you famous, both nationally and internationally.

It’s not often that the head of the Army does a video talk to his troops and tells certain members to ‘get out’. It’s usually the other way around Uncle Sam asking you to join.

I am just wondering, David, if you could tell us how you came to make that video. Is that a normal form of communication with your troops? Did people know it was coming, what sort of warning did they get about the subject? Just tell us how you came to make it and what happened.

David Morrison:         I learned about the activities of this group that styled themselves the Jedi Council in April of 2013. The matter had been under investigation by a couple of different police forces and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) investigative service for some time, but it was only as they understood – particularly the ADF Investigative Service understood – just how serious the matter was and how far reaching it was, that they came to see me.

When I learned of it, I’d spoke to the then Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) (General) David Hurley. And then spent time with the Minister for Defence who at that stage was Stephen Smith, and what I wanted to do, Anne, was to, with their encouragement indeed, a strong endorsement, was to try and deal with what was a grave reputational issue at one level and a terrible travesty in terms of the women who were the victims of this group in a way that was different to how Defence had managed so many different other issues like this. I don’t think anything has been quite like it.

Anne Summers:         Can I just interrupt you there? What was it about – let’s call it the Jedi Council as a form of abbreviation. There had been the Skype scandal. As we know, almost every year there has been a report or an investigation into some aspect of bad behaviour in the military, not necessarily always the Army. This is not something unfortunately that was new. What was it about the Jedi Council behaviour that was so different or so outrageous?

David Morrison:         Well, I think there were three things. First, the seriousness of the offence caused to the unwitting victims of this group. That first and foremost …

Anne Summers:         Perhaps we should just explain to people what we’re talking about? These people were filmed?

David Morrison:         There were episodes of filming consensual sexual acts but with the woman unaware that the filming was taking place. Then, that footage being made available across the Defence restricted network which is our own internal computer system to other members of the Defence Force, particularly the Army, though not exclusively. There was that. Then, there was the fact that the people involved, the perpetrators involved, weren’t cadets of ten weeks’ standing as had been the case with the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) issue.

Anne Summers:         That was the Skype …

David Morrison:         The Skype issue. That’s right, but there were in fact in some cases, middle-ranking officers or senior non-commissioned officers and that changed my mind, and David Hurley’s mind, about the nature of this. It was even more of an affront to what we, the leadership of the ADF, had been trying to do particularly in response to [Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick] Liz Broderick’s review of the treatment of women in the ADF following the Skype issue in ADFA in early 2011.

The third issue was that since my life-changing meetings with Liz Broderick several weeks after I became the Chief of Army, I guess I had invested much more than just a professional focus in trying to deal with the treatment of women and giving women opportunities to reach their potential particularly in the Army. I just found that when I was first briefed about it in my office, I was almost overwhelmed by it and with my …

Anne Summers:         What? With rage?

David Morrison:         Yeah. There was definitely that, but there was concern for the women.

Anne Summers:         These women didn’t know that their images are being …

David Morrison:         No. I rang them later before I went public to tell them.

Anne Summers:         You spoke to each of them?

David Morrison:         Yeah. I spoke to all those who wanted to speak to me and apologized and offered whatever support we could offer and most of them took us up on that. I was very concerned about the reputation of the Australian Army because I owned … owned … I had tenure as the Chief. The challenge, the problem and the solution were mine. We wanted to be public about it.

Stephen Smith said, ‘Look. We will handle this differently to Skype. I want one person speaking.’ I said, ‘That is me. This is the Army’s issue and I own this.’ He and David Hurley said, ‘Right. It’s yours to carry. How do you want to do this?’ I said, ‘I want to call a press conference.’

At first, we’re saying all along, ‘Look. You can’t go yet. You can’t go yet. We’re still finding more about this.’ Every time we kick a rock over, something scuttles out from underneath it and that’s because the assault on these women’s privacy, dignity was largely done in the world of information technology. The computer network had to be examined. There were thousands of emails that had to be pored over to find out who should be held accountable.

I kept pressing but it wasn’t until weeks after I was told that we were in a position to go public. Then, thinking about it, with a very small group of people whose opinions I trusted and trust deeply, my chief of staff, Simone Wilkie, the deputy chief of staff, Leigh Wilton, the Deputy Chief of Army, Angus Campbell at the time and Cate McGregor who was more pivotal in what I am relating.

Anne Summers:         Who was your speechwriter at the time?

David Morrison:         Yeah. Well, there were a whole range of issues in her life clearly, but she was my speechwriter as well. I said, Right! We found the date. The minister was happy with it and I knew that I’d be talking to the Australian public and I thought that there would be a lot of interest in this and of course, there was.

I was most concerned, Anne, about the Army and how the Army would react to this and my feeling was then and still is now that if I’d simply been behind a podium and talking about the Army to the Australian population through various media outlets that that would lack the impact that I needed to make on the soldiers of the Army. But also, it creates an inevitable question in their mind. I am talking collectively about, ‘Is this bloke doing this for the right reasons or is it just simply another General out there expressing outrage?’

So I said, ‘Look. What I want is … I can’t speak to 45,000 people face to face, but I want a recorded message that goes to the very heart of why I am so concerned and why I think that the actions of these men and actions that have preceded them just had to stop.’

The idea then was that I’d record a clip and it would go out. I thought in my naivety just on the Army website. So I said to Cate, ‘Write something. Don’t spend too long on this. I need it.’ She spent about … I don’t know … I think she spent about four hours on it I think and produced a lot of the words and she gave it to me. I played around with it for about an hour and a half in my own time the night before.

Then, I got it to what I wanted. I gave it to my staff. They sent it over and put it on the teleprompter and I walked over to the recording studio that we have down in Defence headquarters with my media adviser, Bec Constance, and I said, ‘Right. We’re ready to go.’ I said, ‘Remove the flag from behind me. I don’t want the Australian flag in the backdrop. This is not a nationalistic message here. This is me talking to my work force.’ Then, I knew the words pretty well by then because …

Anne Summers:         I hear it was one take.

David Morrison:         Look, I was deeply offended and I was really angry.

Anne Summers:         Well, I assume everybody here has watched it. If you haven’t, I would certainly recommend it. It’s been viewed one and a half million times and your anger, I think someone has described it as ‘white hot anger’, is so apparent and that is what makes it so powerful and it’s what as one of your colleagues described to me, It’s the rage and the passion and the honesty that think people have responded to, firstly because here was a senior man standing up to bad behaviour and sounding like he means it finally.

Secondly, this is the Army speaking and that one of your colleagues has said to me that you’ve given the Army a voice nationally and internationally and this is something that they actually value.

David Morrison:         Look, it’s wonderful to hear you say that and of course, I don’t track the number of hits. In fact, I’ve only seen the clip once, which was immediately after the recording, and I’m not going back to it. I don’t feel I need to. I had no understanding and no idea of the impact it would have. In fact, I made a note in my diary that I recorded it on Wednesday night …

Anne Summers:         13th of June 2013.

David Morrison:         Wednesday morning. It was played on the Thursday and I had a note in my diary on the Saturday morning that as people started to contact, I said, ‘It’s been watched 10,000 times, exclamation mark, exclamation mark.’ The point …

Anne Summers:         You couldn’t possibly have predicted that with a year later –almost to the day – you’d be on a stage in London with Angelina Jolie talking about rape.

David Morrison:         No. No. No, that hadn’t crossed my mind. I was trying to deal with …

Anne Summers:         Funny, that. So, what was she like?

David Morrison:         This is where I could tell an expansive story and everyone will go, ‘Wow.’

Anne Summers:         Just a snapshot will do. We’ve got other things to move on to.

David Morrison:         I doubt whether I’ve had a briefer meeting in my life. She was great. All jokes aside, this is a woman who has of her own volition given of herself to a cause around treatment of particularly women and children in troubled and conflicted societies in a way that I think is just remarkable. But my meeting with her was very brief and it was surrounded by a group of media who … I’ve been in some relatively dangerous positions during my life, but I think I actually feared for my own safety.

Anne Summers:         Just on a serious note. The summit that you were both attending, I think along with the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, was called the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence and actually you signed a protocol, or 155 countries signed the protocol about removing impunity from rape in war. Do you seriously think that we can end rape in war?

David Morrison:         That would require a correction in human nature that has defeated us for the last ten millennia. No, I am probably more Hobbesian in my view of human nature, which leads me to be more pessimistic than perhaps I should be. But if you can’t completely eradicate it, you can certainly take steps that we haven’t taken to date, to hold to account people who commit these terrible crimes.

Anne Summers:         Consequences.

David Morrison:         Now, we are a long way short of that. The International Court of Justice does what it can. The UN does what it can, although I think it could be stronger. There are levels of immunity for UN Peacekeepers that come with the Charter of the UN that I think at least could be re-looked at. I think too that as a global society, we just need to be much more rigorous and focused in doing something about this.

Anne Summers:         We’re going to come back to this subject.

David Morrison:         Yeah, sure.

Anne Summers:         I think we’ll just move on for a moment just to get to learn a little bit more about you, David Morrison, and where you’ve come from. I think we’re now very interested to know what makes you, as distinct from people who perhaps gone before you, act in the way that you have.

I guess one obvious question is: you’d been in the military a long time, 34 years, 35 years, by the time of the Jedi Council. How was it that you weren’t aware of the kinds of behaviour that was evident in all the reports and all the inquiries? After Skype, there were seven inquiries. How could you be so shocked by something that surely must have been around for a long time?

David Morrison:         Look, it has been around for a long time and I’ve dealt with many significant instances of unacceptable behaviour during the course of a long career, but I’ve largely spent my … I was brought up by my parents to, I think, behave ethically and to look for the good rather than the bad in people.

I was probably naive in my understanding of just how prevalent some of this behaviour was. Of course, I knew that there’d been 13 reviews into ADF culture over 15 years and hundreds of recommendations in those 13 reviews looked depressingly like each other. We hadn’t really moved very far forward, but coming into the job, when you walk into the very first meeting as the Chief of Army, the bigness of the job struck me … I’ve been the deputy chief. I’ve been in and around the hierarchy of the ADF for a decade.

Anne Summers:         Your father before you was a General?

David Morrison:       That’s right.

Anne Summers:         You’ve been in the military. Your family has been in the military 70 odd years.

David Morrison:         Now, I owned it. I owned it. By that stage, [Sex Discrimination Commissioner] Liz Broderick had come in to Defence and had made a life-changing impression on me and I know that we’re going to talk about it in a little while but she had introduced me to women who had been the victims of terrible behaviour and I had heard from them in a very private and a very personal way and they had affected me and changed my life as well.

Anne Summers:         Why don’t we just start talking about that? Let’s just explain the context of how this came to be … Liz Broderick asked you because she felt that you weren’t taking these issues perhaps as seriously as you might.

David Morrison:         I think she felt that more generally, I am not sure that she identified me as being particularly obdurate in this area or in this … It needed to be the focal point of their lives.

Anne Summers:         Whatever the motivation. She asked you if you would meet with some young female soldiers, one on one, out of uniform and in an anonymous setting in Sydney, away from Canberra. Can you tell us about one of those meetings?

David Morrison:         I can tell you about all of them because they are imprinted on my psyche and will remain there for the rest of my life.

Anne Summers:         One in particular, the young soldier who came and saw you with her mother, and the mother was very upset about what the Army had done to her daughter.

David Morrison:         When her mother said, ‘I trusted you.’ So it was personal from the very instance and it absolutely should have been – and that deepens the indelible mark on me. ‘I trusted you with my daughter and look what you did.’ There is no way I would ever seek to not own that. She did. She did trust me, the Chief of the Army, with her daughter and I let her daughter down.

Anne Summers:         What happened to her daughter?

David Morrison:         Yeah. The daughter who’s still serving said, ‘Look. I am really nervous.’ I thought, well. You’re nervous, so am I! Because as I’ve said earlier, I haven’t been living in some sort of cloister all through my military career. I’ve seen how women were affected by their service but I did not know and I can be blamed for this and I am not trying to escape at all. I did not understand the level of personal pain to the level that I do now and I have taken part in restorative engagements as a result of requests from the Defence …

Anne Summers:         Can you just quickly explain what ‘restorative engagement’ is? For people who are not familiar with it.

David Morrison:         Well, Liz [Broderick] kicked it off. At first we didn’t call anything other than ‘the Chief is going to meet with three women sequentially over a six-hour period and hear firsthand how their lives have been blighted by the military service and the treatment of people that they should have been able to trust, peers or superiors’.

Then, under the response to the … There has been a big review into abuse in the military by [Defence Minister] Stephen Smith and [Prime Minister] Julia Gillard instituted and it’s called the Defence Abuse Restorative Task Force – the DART – headed by [former judge] Len Roberts-Smith. It’s compiled. I gave you the report in my office. It was 60 years of sins. They have taken an approach where victims of terrible treatment get the chance to sit down with people like me and tell their story.

I have done a couple of these as well but the immediacy of hearing those three women’s stories – they absolutely have changed me. I defy any man to start on such an intimate conversation with an open mind and not be affected.

Anne Summers:         Is that what it’s going to take?

David Morrison:         Yeah.

Anne Summers:         It’s for men in powerful positions to sit down one on one with the people in their organization? Is that how …

David Morrison:         How do you change culture? I don’t think there is anything harder than changing culture. And, what this culture? I am no anthropologist. I have used the shorthand description that I think culture is essentially the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and what we then believe as a consequence. And so it’s all about communication. You view the Army because you’ve had a particular conversation or seen something and then, someone’s added lustre to that observation and you form your view.

That is a sizable drop perhaps in the well of culture. Well, for me, I own Army’s culture. I owned Army’s heritage. I live in the past in that respect and I know it. There’s so much to be proud of but there’s a lot that goes to the heart in a really troubling way about the military’s culture.

Anne Summers:         How did you feel personally when that woman, that mother, said that to you? You’ve said later that ‘this was not the Army that I loved and thought I knew’. What did that do to your self-belief and your certainty, about the choices that you’ve made about your career?

David Morrison:         It called them into question, in a life-changing way, in a nice air-conditioned office in the Human Rights Commission, while the rest of the world got on with their business. It called into question the organization, the institution that I had been a part of all of my life because my father was a wonderful man, a very ethical soldier, and I have travelled around and I have heard stories and I met people, good men. Then, I joined the Army.

Then, his service and mine overlapped for 70 years … He joined in 1945 and here I am in 2015, 70 unbroken years, and yet in the space of that day, everything was being called so fundamentally into question. This was well before the Jedi Council. This was …

Anne Summers:         You didn’t feel compelled to make a videotape address to the Army after hearing these girls talk?

David Morrison:         No, but we tried to do it in a different way. We were making big headway by 2013. I’d set targets to increase the number of women in our workforce. We’d changed policy around flexible workplace arrangements, around maternity leave. We invested a huge amount in changing the messaging around recruiting. We’d had talent out-placement programs put in place. There were a whole range of things that were happening.

Then, you get blindsided again by the actions of these men that you know.

I’ll tell you a story. The night before the press conference, I came up to Sydney to speak to all of the senior commanders in the Army, all brigadiers and generals, and I told them what had happened and what I was going to do about it.

I stayed up there for about three hours. Then I flew back to Canberra and I was with just one other person, a regimental sergeant major of the Army, David Ashley, the best soldier I’ve ever served with, who not only gets what I am trying to do in the Army but is a 50 per cent of the solution because he has been tireless in his commitment to talking to soldiers and insisting on a change.

He said something to me that was just simple and profound. He said, ‘Sir …’, I was sitting in my seat, slumped in the seat of the plane staring at the window thinking, ‘Tomorrow is going to be the worst day of my life.’ It deserves to be. I wasn’t seeking sympathy. I wasn’t looking for shoulders to cry on, but I just felt it’s going to be the worst day of my life.

He said, ‘Sir, we can’t let the actions of these men define who we are. What’s got to define us is how we respond.’ Now, it’s simple but at that moment, it was the best thing I could possibly have heard. I got off the plane feeling quite different to how I’d felt getting onto it and because we were all trying to do things in the Army to improve the opportunities of 51 per cent of the population and this was a terrible setback, but I got off the plane and I thought, well, bugger this, we’ll hold every single person to account.

I don’t care how long it takes. Whether we discharge them or whether we censure them or whether we warn them or whether we just give them counselling because there were people right at the periphery of this who were still held to account, over 100 of them. We will do this. We will have a conversation with our workforce. We will use this crisis to further this course, and I think we have. And, of course, the video helped enormously.

Anne Summers:         You have in fact sacked, what, 200 people? ‘Discharged’, sorry.

David Morrison:         No, we’ve sacked. We’ve terminated, with a degree of malice, the careers of probably over the course of my almost four years, well in excess of 200 people.

Anne Summers:         And has that caused resentment?

David Morrison:         Not that I care about.

Anne Summers:         One of the things that you said to me when we had our interview a few weeks ago is when you are the Chief of the Army, it’s very hard to have other people to talk to – you don’t have any peers and you talked to me about your membership of the group called Male Champions of Change. I want to acknowledge that two of the members of the Male Champions of Change are here this evening, Simon Rothery, who is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Glen Boreham, who is a non-executive director and formerly the head of IBM. I thank them very much for coming along.

David Morrison:         Yeah. Thank you, Glen and thank you, Simon.

Anne Summers:         Can you just tell us a little bit about the Male Champions of Change and how it’s helped you? I understand you’ve also helped some of the people in the private sector.

David Morrison:         Yeah. Again, it was an initiative of Liz Broderick. Liz is, I think, one of the truly eminent Australians and her view … It’s really interesting because I understand much more about feminist issues than I ever thought I would. I joke, but only quietly, that I’ve read more feminist literature in the last three years than most men would read in five lifetimes but it doesn’t matter, it’s made me a better person.

Liz of course took the view, and it’s been contentious in some feminist circles, that men have to be engaged in this issue around gender and gender diversity and opportunities for women in a way that they haven’t and I know that there are some women who are of the view that this is not a man’s fight. It’s our fight to win and while I had deep …

Anne Summers:         How do you see it?

David Morrison:         While I have deep respect for that view, I don’t agree with it. I don’t see this any more as a feminist issue. I think this is a societal issue. Over 50 per cent of society are denied opportunities that are accorded to men because of their birthright and we need to change that and Liz is …

Anne Summers:         How can you, as a male leader of an organization, in this case the Army, how can you and the head of all these other organizations, what can you actually do as a group together? In terms of the peer relationship, what do you chat about when you’re having a little complaints session about how it’s going?

David Morrison:         If you start from at least the arguable but I think some logical premise that men listen to other men, then if you have …

Anne Summers:         I think we will take that as a given …

David Morrison:         I am sure you do, Anne! But I think I agree with you. If you had men like Glen Boreham or Simon Rothery or Giam Swiegers [CEO of Deloitte Australia] or Alan Joyce [CEO of Qantas Airways] or David Thodey [outgoing CEO of Telstra Corporation] and those that came into the Male Champions of Change making public commentary about this – and they do. The Male Champions have been out and I think Liz keeps a record and a tally of how many occasions that we speak about this. It’s hundreds. And it’s to the United Nations or to key corporate areas in Japan or in the Middle East, let alone Europe. The level of awareness of this societal issue is, I think, raised substantially and these men …

Anne Summers:         What about the kind of peer support you give each other?

David Morrison:         Well, I’ll tell you. When there was a degree of notoriety around this Jedi Council group and it became, quite appropriately, a public issue and me out there talking to the families of Australia about this, the Male Champions were just incredible. I got emails and SMSes. When I saw them, they spoke to me about it. Simon Rothery got me in to talk to the leadership team in Goldman Sachs.

I’ve spoken now to leadership teams in companies around Australia about this because I’ve been through an experience that all CEOs would never want on their watch, but they are genuine about trying to deal with their own issues and I’ve had an opportunity to just speak to people.

When you sit around, the first time I’d walked into the Male Champions of Change, you know, I might be the Chief of Army but I don’t run corporate Australia and yet, around the table were all of these people who I’d seen at a distance who the captains of industry and I thought, ‘Strewth, I’m going to have nothing to say here.’

For a while, those that know me would be surprised at what I am about to say next. For a while, I said nothing. Then, I realized that these deeply ethical, very well intentioned and committed men were wrestling with the same problems I have. Yes, they have a different workforce, but guess what? There was a common purpose for us to share and I have found a level of peer support with the Male Champions of Change that I have found from no other group.

Anne Summers:         Let’s talk about another group of men taking responsibility and that is the White Ribbon organization – men taking responsibility for violence. I know that you got the Army to be a very strong supporter of White Ribbon and that you have said that you would like every soldier to take the White Ribbon Pledge …

David Morrison:         We will be the largest accredited workforce under White Ribbon in the history of the organization by the end of this year.

Anne Summers:         Okay. I guess what I would like to raise now is the subject of domestic violence. I am sure many of us watched Q&A on Monday night on the subject of family violence or, as I prefer to call it, domestic violence, and I think that one of the … It’s a conversation, a national conversation that needs to be had. I am very glad that Q&A did it and I’d like us to perhaps continue that in some way tonight so I want to ask you about domestic violence in the military.

You have said that one of the things you are proud of is you’ve made the military a safe space where somebody can come out and say they are transgender or somebody can come out and say that they are a victim of domestic violence and they will be treated properly. What do you do if somebody is a perpetrator of domestic violence?

David Morrison:         We get rid of them.

Anne Summers:         It’s pretty serious, I mean, isn’t it a very widespread issue in the military?

David Morrison:         Sorry, a perpetrator, you said.

Anne Summers:         A perpetrator.

David Morrison:         Yeah. We get rid of them.

Anne Summers:         How do you know? How does this work?

David Morrison:         Well, these are matters of violence. I mean, often the police are involved because these are matters of violence and there’s a lot of statistics around domestic violence in this country and anyone who even had one cursory look at this matter would know that it’s not isolated to western society or to any society – rich, poor, literate or illiterate, it doesn’t matter.

Men’s violence against women is a blight and a global one, and it compounds the barriers that are placed in front of women reaching their potential. In Australia, though, there are 800,000 women in our workforce who are affected adversely by domestic violence. Now, tonight, tomorrow, this week …

Anne Summers:         Where did you get that figure? Where does that figure come from?

David Morrison:         From White Ribbon. The point here is that if that’s the case for many of those women, the workplace is the only refuge that they have and so, I believe that it is the responsibility of the leaders within our workplaces to deal with this issue as best as they can. I think that applies to me and applies to everybody else.

Anne Summers:         In practical terms, what does it mean? What do you actually do?

David Morrison:         You’ve got to start with an education campaign because when you talk about domestic violence to most men in this country, they will look at you blankly and they go, Get out! That can’t be right! That’s one of I think the great strengths of … Well, of course, appointing Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year has done an enormous amount for this issue but White Ribbon, Our Watch, a number of other like organizations that raised a profile of this matter that remind or in fact informed men that there are only … There are three types of men in this equation.

There’s the perpetrators and they’ve got to be held to account. There’s those that seek to protect. They are people, they are men who become aware of this who start to take action whether they’re in a position of responsibility or not. Then, in the middle, is the most problematic group, well, no, the biggest problem of course is the perpetrators, but it’s the bystander.

We have millions of bystanders in this country and we probably have billions around the world. I don’t want to know. I hear something at night from the house next door but it’s not my business. She’s come to work and she doesn’t seem right, it will be okay. It will pass. It’s her problem.

Anne Summers:         What are you saying this bystander should do?

David Morrison:         Well, you’ve got to change that. You change the bystander equation, you change everything. And that’s not just of course in regard to domestic violence. That’s in terms of sexual attitudes to women, or to men and women who don’t fit the stereotype of whatever profession you’re a part of.

As soon as you can do that, that’s where White Ribbon and certainly the Army have focused most of its effort. I tell you, I will talk about life-changing moments and the women in the audience, I guess you will be disappointed in what I am about to tell you, but so be it. We sat down with a guy called … The Army leadership team, all men. It’s like the generals of the Army sat down with a guy called Jackson Katz who’s done a lot of work around the macho paradigm and the bystander issue.

He’s an American. We brought him out from the States and we’ve used him to talk to our more junior soldiers but I hit the Generals up first and he had this exercise. He had two pieces, two easels with butcher’s paper on, and he said, ‘Right. I want you to tell me now and I will write it up what you do to avoid a sexual assault or a circumstance where you feel sexually confronted during the day.’ Well, we just sat there.

No, I hadn’t thought about it. I don’t think about it. I’m a man. I’ve never been discriminated against.

He said, ‘Right. Now, I want you to think about this from a women’s perspective. What do you do?’ We had a couple of women there who got the ball rolling, but then a group of men, your generals … sat for … until I was stopped, by the way, and we had filled a number of pages.

Where are your keys? Where is your mobile phone? What do you do when you leave the house? How do you enter the house? How do you talk to people in a workplace? How do you sit? How do you enter a room? What do you do when there’s confrontation around the table? How do you step back from that? Life-changing.

I think I don’t actually believe in ‘unconscious bias’. Avril Henry [a consultant on gender issues to the Department of Defence] and I are on one page here.

Anne Summers:         Well, I’m glad to hear it.

David Morrison:         Well, I think it is conscious, and everything is. But on this, I hadn’t thought about it like that before and now I do. What I want is the men in the Army to think that way as well.

Anne Summers:         Can I just come at it in a slightly different way? I wanted to just read back at you a quote from your talk in June last year at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence when you said – it’s a very powerful quote – you said, ‘Armies that revel in this separateness from civil society, that value the male over the female, that use their imposed values to exclude those that don’t fit the particular traits of the dominant group, who celebrate the violence that is integral to my profession rather than seek ways to contain it, they do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute.’

That’s a very powerful way of putting it: the soldier versus the brute. I guess my question is: how do you contain the violence which is integral to your profession as you’ve said, and still function as an Army?

David Morrison:         Well, it takes a great deal of effort, but armies exist to, when required, deliver sanctioned and appropriate levels of coercion to achieve an end and that coercion can include legal force. Without prettying it up, armies deliver violence .We, throughout our history … I talked to corporate Australia a lot and say, ‘Hey, your brand is good but my brand is better.’

I get CEOs going, ‘Yeah, sure mate, how can that be? No, I am a captain of industry and I earn billions’, and I say, ‘Well, look. My brand is founded on Gallipoli. And Villers-Bretonneux, Tobruk and Alamein and Kokoda and Kapyong and Long Tan. It’s rooted in the 102,000 names that are etched on the Wall of Memory at the War Memorial. Australians who have given their lives for us to enjoy our present. That is a very powerful substance to the Army and it’s to be commemorated and indeed, I think appreciated. And I think Australians do but there is no getting around the fact that Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux and Kapyong and Kokoda and Long Tan and the military actions in Iraq and in Afghanistan have come with levels of violence that almost everybody in Australia, they never know …’

Anne Summers:         I guess the question is and I know as we’ve discussed before …

David Morrison:         How do you turn it off?

Anne Summers:         How do you turn it off?

David Morrison:         Well, you have to train men and women in a way that we do. You have to be an ethics-based organization and we talked about that in many organizations and society talk about being ethics-based. For armies, it’s essential. We have four standing tenets: courage, not just physical but also moral; teamwork; initiative and one that was introduced during my time as the chief, respect.

I think that it’s probably the most powerful. We have seen fantastic actions by Australian soldiers, men and women, throughout our 114 years of history that have involved the taking of life but their ability then to be a compassionate adversary, indeed, a compassionate victor, and never lose sight of the fact that they are there for a purpose, I think is a hallmark of the Australian Defence Force and certainly, its Army. At a personal level, it comes with levels of deep conflict within, inside individuals.

Anne Summers:         Stress and all kinds of behaviour that, I guess, again we’re talking about and recognizing in ways that we all had grandfathers who suffered terribly in the First World War and took it out on their families in violent ways.

David Morrison:         Yeah. Well, look at your own personal story.

Anne Summers:         Exactly. I guess one of the things that I am sure must concern you is how you prevent that violence being perpetrated which comes from the battlefield being visited on the families at home and perpetuated through generations. It’s where domestic violence and the Army’s mission intersect.

David Morrison:         Well, if you spend all day training to apply violence, you know, sanctioned, appropriate and legal violence, and then, you go home. How do you live?

Of course, the vast majority of soldiers throughout our 114 years have managed this. My father is a great example. He fought in Korea as a lieutenant.            He was a CO, a commanding officer, in Vietnam. He had 36 soldiers killed in the Ninth battalion in 1969. That was a tour of great violence and not just delivered but taken, and yet, he was the most loving man. He was the most pivotal man in my life because of his humanity and his compassion and his understanding and his humour. Now, there are the multitude of soldiers who are men like my father but there are some clearly who struggle with it, Anne, but abrogating the responsibility is the worst thing you can do. You’ve got to do something.

Anne Summers:         One final question and that is the whole question of bringing more women to military. The Army has traditionally had a very low percentage of women partly because so many jobs were banned to women until very recently. I guess one of the big questions, continuing on the theme that we’ve been talking about, and that is the extent to which women will come in … Will women soldiers change the culture of the Army?

David Morrison:         Yes.

Anne Summers:         Or will they become brutalized by it? Will they become …

David Morrison:         I would disagree with the term brutalized because that is rather pejorative, don’t you think, because it says that we all then become brutalized and as I said in London and it was something that’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever written – that paragraph – because it was right from the heart.

We are soldiers, we are not brutes. No one loves this Army more than I do, Anne, but I don’t want women to come in and be men-like. I want women to be able to live to their potential as women, as soldiers, as officers in an Army that revels in diversity, that seizes all of the advantages that accrue to us if we say to a woman, a transgendered man or woman, a gay or lesbian man or woman, men and women of different faiths, Christian, Islamic, Sikh or no religion, the Army is a place that we can use your talent.

You can reach your potential and it’s not just the win–win for you and for the institution. It’s a win for Australia because it will be secured by the most capable Army now and into its future.

Anne Summers:         Just talking about lasting change and the role individual leaders play in their organizations – how do you see that lasting when individuals leave those jobs? You as a Male Champion of Change, you’re leaving the job in a few weeks’ time.

David Thodey, from Telstra, he’s somebody you’ve mentioned, is leaving, all of the other public sector leaders, head of Treasury …

David Morrison:         Martin Parkinson.

Anne Summers:         Yeah. Martin Parkinson. Steve Sedgwick from the Public Service Commission, Ian Watt from Prime Minister & Cabinet. They’ve all gone and as far as I know, the membership of the MCC doesn’t go with the jobs – you get invited as an individual rather than an organization. I just wonder how you see this process of cultural change, of aggressive cultural change that you’ve been leading. How do you see that continuing when the people who are doing it are no longer in the jobs?

David Morrison:         Well, I don’t think that David Thodey is going to become less passionate about these issues because he is no longer the CEO of Telstra.

Anne Summers:         What will happen with Telstra?

David Morrison:         Well, that is for Telstra and its new CEO but in my case, whoever takes over from me, I think has got no choice but to continue the momentum for change. There is no going back now. No general in charge of the Army would be allowed to even quietly say, ‘Listen, we’ll just put this one to one side.’

No one is going to allow that. The families that we recruit our men and the women from wouldn’t allow it. The government won’t allow it and we’re going to be fortunate in that regard because the new Chief of Army is as deeply committed to this as I am and there is no going back. A message to those in the Army who have been resistant to change: your days are numbered.

Anne Summers:         Well, you have said there are still plenty of people in the Army who have to leave.

David Morrison:         Well, there’s Machiavelli who nailed it back in sixteenth-century Italy when he advised the Medicis that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand nor more doubt for success than to set up as a leader of change, ‘for he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things’.

Anne Summers:         Exactly. On that note …

David Morrison:         On that rather threatening note …

Anne Summers:         Do we have any questions?

Angela:           I find it fascinating that you have introduced opportunities for women. You fired those who were perpetrators and you’ve identified the bystander, but are there others who are still within your organization who are either discriminating against women or acting against women? How do you weed them out?

David Morrison:         Angela, you just keep the faith and you never lose your purpose. You listen to women and men who have ideas. One of the really great initiatives that we’ve set up is gender and diversity forums at a local level throughout the Army. Women of relatively junior rank have the chance to sit in forums and tell me what they think we should be doing.

As I said to Anne, there are no opportunities to go back here and we will continue to be focused on this and whoever takes over from me will drive it harder, I am absolutely sure, but change … We’re talking about cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight and unfortunately it may not even happen in my lifetime, but we are on the path now and there’s no deviation from it. More women will join our Army and the Army will be better for it.

Marie: I’m an HR manager, an entrepreneur and I write a blog as well. I love a lot of what you’ve said about the things that we do to change what has happened in the past. What I’d like to be able to take, just to the leaders of our corporation, is a vision of what the future looks like. What’s going to inspire people to say, ‘Let’s change without some of the horrible stories that you’ve had to hear, for example?’ What are some of the words that you can give that we can share with our leadership?

David Morrison:         Well, there would certainly be more women in the future.

Marie: Yeah, certainly.

David Morrison:         And there would be more diversity in our Army, your Army across the board – race, religion, sexual orientation of those that get you through your working day. There would be an environment where those who feel affronted by a remark, an action, the denial of an opportunity would feel able to put their hand up and say, ‘This is not right.’ We have to make a change here and this is not right and they would be listened to and action would be taken.

It would be a future where white Anglo-Saxon men, predominantly young, would realize that the ethos of the Army founded on courage, initiative, teamwork and respect is the code by which they are required to live and if they are not prepared to live by that, they can find somewhere else to work.

Now, I think in what I’ve just described … Sorry, there would be more women in positions of authority and there would be a woman Chief of Army. Now, I think that we are … The dawn has already happened here. Things have changed and things are changing faster in my workforce. I tell the Male Champions of Change this. Things are happening faster in my workforce than it is happening in theirs.

Marie: Why? What does that give us?

David Morrison:         I think that we have got people like a David Morrison or an Angus Campbell or a David Ashley or the powerful women that have got the opportunity now to represent not just themselves but their Army and their nation around the globe. Women like Simone Wilkie or a Leigh Wilton, the list goes on. They are seen not as women per se, they are seen as soldiers of an Army that defends this country. Now, I think we are well and truly in that space right now. We just need to take it further. You should think about joining the Army.

Chloe: I used to work in the tech industry where I was exposed to a very masculine tech culture. You’ve talked about changing values within organization like the Army but what action could society take to change culture within cultures or subcultures that aren’t necessarily tied to an organization?

David Morrison:         Well, I take great heart, Chloe, in the fact that the Army in this respect, partly because it’s attracted attention because we’ve been so overt in dealing with the issue, but the Army is in some respects, leading in this area. Now, we have too small a percentage of women in the Army workforce but we’re increasing it rapidly.

I think that conversations that men and women now have … Look. Anne Summers is one of the great Australians. She moulded change in this society in the 1960s and the 1970s against huge odds, but I think that we’re probably in some respects, while we’ve all comfortably moved on from the 1970s perhaps … We don’t wear flares and that’s got to be a good thing.

But I think that we’ve reached the level of stasis in some areas of our society where you do need Anne Summers, but you also need men like Anne Summers who are challenging all sectors of Australian society to make fundamental changes. Let’s face it. It’s a men’s world, it’s been created by men and when you look at the problems that the planet’s got, you got to say, ‘It probably hasn’t been the best solution.’ We should be trying something that is a bit more broad.

Anne:  Thank you. Thank you for this event, Anne. My name is Anne also and I’ve had my time as a bit of a trailblazer over the years but with regard to the military, David and the global military because the sense I get from you is it’s a global issue as well as a national issue. Have you had consultation with armies, with military in other countries? For example like perhaps the Israeli Army or some of the Scandinavian Armies that had a different cultural approach to some of these issues? If you have, what have you found out from them?

David Morrison:         I have, Anne, and I conclude my ten years as the Chief of Army in the middle of May and I am going to go and speak at NATO in Brussels a couple of weeks later. Four weeks after that, I’ve been invited to speak to the Swedish Armed Forces in Stockholm and when I was in London at the Global Summit, I had the chance to meet senior representatives of a number of countries, not just European but African, South American.

I think every chief of Army around the world or most chiefs of Army around the world realize that they have got to make this change for capability reasons. We certainly in the West are drawing from a smaller demographic. If you ignore the extraordinary talent pool that is resident in at least 50 per cent of every population around the globe, in some cases much more than that, then you are not just abrogating your responsibilities as the chief at the time but you’re selling out the Army and the nation it’s meant to protect in the future.

So there is a movement to try and increase the number of women and give more opportunities to women because people are now realizing the advantages that come through more diversified military forces but … I’m going to say this with considerable pride, they come to Australia for answers. Now, we are so far from perfect that my hand almost trembles to say what I’ve just said, but they do.

You’ve got an Army and a Defence Force that has realized that change has to happen now and the leadership from the men and senior women as well in the organization has been quite extraordinary in the last four years. So I am asked to speak and share my experiences around the world and I’ve got a great story to tell about what’s happening in Australia. It’s a very pragmatic and realistic one that we’ve still a long way to go, but what we’re doing here, I think, should be a source of pride for Australians. The soldiers of your Army are proud of it.

Tess:    Hi. I’m Tess. I’m 16 and I’m from Putney.

David Morrison:         Hi, Tess.

Tess:    You’ve described a lot of reactive measures that ADF is taking against harassment. As a young woman looking to enter the Army next year through ADFA, what are some preventative measures that you’re taking against preventing harassment as opposed to just reacting to it once it’s happened?

David Morrison:         Well, we are so more energetic and engaged in holding people to account, Tess, than I think we were in the past. I think the real revelation for Army’s leadership came in the wake of the Jedi Council and I brought to Canberra the senior soldiers in every unit in the Australian Army. We had 120 senior soldiers sitting in an audience who when they were taken through the issues that the Army faces by my deputy chief of staff, Colonel Leigh Wilton, and it changed their lives as well. Because when you’re in a unit, when you’re in a business unit, when you’re in an Army unit, you tend to see the world through a pretty small straw. What happens in your unit is your world. If you have a couple of instances of really unacceptable behaviour, you do manage it but you see it as bad apples. When you actually see across an organization as big as the Army, the plethora of issues that I deal with as the chief, and there are hundreds, and you become aware of them, you suddenly start to understand the size of the problem.

Now, since then, since 2013, you can’t hold the position of responsibility. You can’t be a commanding officer. You can’t be a regimental sergeant major. You can’t be a major responsible for a command in an Army without being fully aware of your responsibilities to make not just yourselves but those who worked for you fully accountable for their actions.

Now, it is not perfect, Tess, and I would be a liar if I told you if you’re going to go to ADFA and join the Army after that, that you won’t be confronted with difficult issues but I will give you this guarantee: that if you are, and if you put your hand up and you tell a man like me that this has happened, they will do something about it. And you putting up your hand will help change our organization again for the better.

Jay:      Congratulations on what you have achieved so far. It’s a brilliant achievement. My question is about your Male Champions of Change. Good initiative, fantastic to see it’s happening but aren’t we at a point now where it’s not just men doing it and just women doing it, shouldn’t we be doing it together finally?

David Morrison:         Yeah. Certainly. There’s no sense of ownership amongst the Male Champions of Change as I belong to or indeed, the many other Male Champions of Change that have now stood up – in the property industry, in sporting codes, in areas around the globe now. Liz Broderick has more frequent flier points than all of us put together, I’m sure, and what a wonderful representative of our society and the changes we’re trying to make.

This isn’t a male issue. No one is saying that but it isn’t just a female issue either. As I said earlier, I think it’s a societal issue. We as a society need to be addressing it. Please, well I hope you don’t, I talk about these matters but I’m no expert in them. I’ve never been discriminated against. In this regard, you’ve probably faced so many more challenges than I have. It’s not about quietening your voice out. It’s about sharing the stage with you.

Jay:      Oh, no. Definitely, I am just stating that in the twenty-first century of 2015, it’s fantastic that women have been able to take the rights from way back in the end of the nineteenth century and have been bringing them through and men have been trying to take this voice, but at what point do we stand together and do this and not do this as separate entities of the male or female.

David Morrison:         Well, I think we are now in a way that we probably haven’t done. When the Male Champions of Change started, the focus initially was on the number of women on boards and in more senior positions within corporate Australia and this has gone much more broad than that. The public service has been involved. The Army has been involved and in our meeting before the one we held last week, Rosie Batty was asked to come in and speak to the Male Champions of Change and this meeting concluded with a commitment, I think.

I don’t want to speak for the men who were there but certainly a much greater commitment to issues around domestic violence and the role that men and women have to play in positions of responsibility and accountability in the workplaces of Australia to try and do something about this.

I am not trying to paint Camelot here but I think we are at a tipping point in twenty-first century Australia and I think that there is a role for all of us, male and female, to do something about it and I think we’ve got more opportunities to do that than was the case even as recently as five years ago.

Megan:           You were kind enough to come to the Bar Association and launch our best practice guidelines over sexual discrimination, bullying, harassment, victimization, vilification, etc., which was wonderful. You talk a lot about Champions of Change and how important that is and I agree. The Bar is trying to do something similar but we call it ‘Advocates of Change’.

David Morrison:         OK.

Megan:           What you said though earlier on in this discussion was that it didn’t come home to you as a reality until you sat down with that young woman and her mother and she told you what happened to her that you finally understood exactly what was going on and took it seriously – not to imply that you weren’t taking it seriously before.

David Morrison:         I took it personally. I think that’s the difference.

Megan:           Yes, that’s right. So short of having every woman go to every man and relate their personal anecdote and have that man take personal responsibility for that problem, how do we see real change outside of the Champions of Change model?

David Morrison:         Well, I think that’s what you got to do. People never do things for your reason. They only do them for theirs. That’s human nature. The change for me, it was multilayered but that was a pivotal moment in my life and as I’ve said, the matters became personal and of course, I made it even more personal by my knowledge that I owned the issue because I was the chief, but I was deeply affected by it.

We’ve now trained every senior officer in the Defence Force, in the Army. I can speak to a general, a brigadier, colonel who are taking part in the restorative engagements required under the response to abuse. There are about 200 senior officers, almost all men but not exclusively, who are now having a similar exposure at a very personal level to the true meaning of being a victim.

This will change the defence forces well and I think that we need to do this more broadly. It’s only when you sit down and finally peel away the shades of grey and understand what the real black-and-white issue is, that I think true understanding comes. I think you need to do that in schools. You need to do it in community groups. You need to do it in our media. You need to find women with the extraordinary courage of someone like a Rosie Batty to tell male Australia, in this case, really what it’s all about and break through the enamel that most men are either born with or develop very soon after birth, for a real meaningful change to happen.

We’re seeing that and certainly in the Army, this happens every day now. I think it’s the right thing to do. You need strong women who are prepared to tell their story. The level of courage of those three women was just extraordinary: telling the most senior male in their organization what was what. And having him visibly affected by what he was told, visibly affected still. So I don’t think we should step away. In fact, I don’t think you can make cultural change happen in any other way.

Judith: Hi. My background is mental health. You’ve identified the bystander as a huge part of the equation here and I’m very curious how you propose to teach people or raise consciousness of the mainstream that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander and that doing nothing makes you a very big part of the problem.

David Morrison:         Well, we do it every day in the Army. We’ve had people come in and facilitate training sessions at all levels but it’s now required, mandated training that we do in every part of our workforce and it’s the same in the Navy and the Air Force and it goes to the heart of being a bystander.

I spoke about it in London. In fact, there are no bystanders. If you categorize yourself as a bystander, you are in fact a perpetrator. That’s really the issue, isn’t it? You do nothing, you make a voluntary conscious decision to do nothing, in my view, you’ve just set the standard for yourself and it’s not good enough.

Look, when we dealt with the Jedi Council issue, any number of people were disciplined and held to account not because they’d sent the emails and forwarded them on, but they’d received them and done nothing about it.

We as a society are a long way from being perfect but if we stopped people, even a small number, from being a bystander … There are people in this audience tonight who are affected by domestic violence. When they go home and it happens, there are other people who are aware but who will do nothing. In my view, they too are perpetrators.

Catherine:      I just wanted to begin actually by recognizing with gratitude your authenticity in leadership around your role as Chief of Army.

David Morrison:         Thank you.

Catherine:      The pleasure is mine. My question actually is perhaps I offer to both of you for comment. With your impending graduation as Chief of Army, I wanted to know whether your new role which I suspect will probably have a greater level of awareness and advocacy around some of these issues as you go on to speak with other organizations, how you see that role and its interdependent relationship with media outlets in terms of the future and promotion and dissemination of your message?

Now, in asking that question, I guess the source for that, for me, was I had cause to do some research; specifically I was looking at Liz’s pathway for change and her success in her current role and I noticed with some level of concern with very few exceptions that most of the interviews either written or in fact, video, opened with the discussion about how she looked, that she was married, and her children.

David Morrison:         Yeah.

Catherine:      I made it an objective of mine to ascertain a little bit about your background and whether you had children. I, to be perfectly honest, had to go to quite a lot of interviews to find the answer.

David Morrison:         I have three sons.

Catherine:      This is what I found out, but the point is it isn’t a common feature of your interviews.

David Morrison:         Well, I haven’t kept it a secret and they haven’t either.

Catherine:      But nobody asks.

David Morrison:         That’s true.

Catherine:      My question is about the relationship between media outlet and your dissemination of messages going forward.

David Morrison:         Well, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of media engagement and some of it has been very difficult and that’s fair enough if you walk onto the pitch, you’ve got to take the full tosses and the bounces. I don’t mind that. Perhaps if I just say this, I got asked a question. I was speaking in Brisbane two years ago to CEDA [Committee for Economic Development of Australia] – it was a big audience.

At the end of it, I got asked a question by a man that I’ve not been asked before and I haven’t been asked since but I am going to repeat it. He said, ‘How are you affected personally by taking a public stance on this?’ I didn’t have a ready-made answer.

Then, I just said, Look. This is this, this great matter. This is the best thing I had ever done in my life. Okay. Chief of Army, what an honour? What a privilege? This is better. This is great. This is something beyond being the Chief of Army, beyond being David Morrison. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life and I will be involved in it.

I will finish in May being a soldier. I will now never lose the passion for embracing true diversity in Australia, and elsewhere, because that is the future of the planet.

Jennifer:          David. I’m Jennifer. I’m a law student from Macquarie University. Every day, there are atrocities committed against women and children in conflict zones worldwide. You mentioned imparting to the international community that particularly the UN could do more to end impunity for rape and sexual violence in conflict. What steps do you think should be taken to achieve this?

David Morrison:         I’ve been approached by a group in Canada and asked if I would be involved in their work to at least discuss with the UN ending immunity for UN Peacekeepers. Now, as I understand it and I am no expert in this area, they are given immunity not just under the charter of the UN but also, on the status of force arrangements that are made particular to each UN mission.

Now, I wander into dangerous territory here because my comments are clearly public but I have a considerable degree of empathy with the core concerns of that group and I have said that I will certainly be involved. Now, it’s difficult and I would never get out in front of my government, and I would be very concerned if an Australian peacekeeper was going to be held to account in a judicial system in a country whose judicial system we had no confidence in. But there has to be ways and means that men and women of good intent can work around this.

I do think that while the problem is certainly not predominantly within peacekeepers under the UN or under any multinational group, it does exist. But people generally, particularly armies and like organizations, they have to be held to account. That requires prosecution and sentencing if they have been found to have caused through their actions, damage to particularly women and in many cases, children as well.

We’re well short of that. I do think there has to be a global conversation around this and action taken. Getting things done in the UN is difficult because there are over 160 nations involved but surely, it wouldn’t be that hard to find some common ground on this one, do you think? I answer an inadequate answer to your very good question.

Tim:     General Morrison, my name is Tim. I’m currently a law student similar to last speaker. I’m actually applying to be a reserve officer … in a few weeks.

David Morrison:         Best of luck.

Tim:     Thank you. My question is …

David Morrison:         You’re going to have to lose that beard, Tim.

Tim:     Yeah. The first port of call before I stand in front of the officers. I’m sort of in a precarious position because my question is almost word for word asked by the last speaker so I will slightly modify mine. You’ve talked a bit about UN Peacekeepers and how we need to change laws regarding them and repealing immunity for those individuals, but in light of the current atrocities in Iraq and Syria fighting against ISIS, or IS, do you feel that the Australian government and western nations in this current coalition should be doing more with the UN and other bodies to prosecute enemy combatants?

David Morrison:         Well, I think that we do need to have a national discussion about how we deal with what I think are quite existential issues in contemporary Australia and indeed, across the world. I fear that we are in the early days of yet another very long war. I am of a view that there were links between the First World War, the Second World War and many other conflicts in the twentieth century that, in some ways, gave them a unity that probably only ended with the fall of the USSR.

How that national conversation is had and what decisions a democratically elected government takes is not a matter for the current Chief of Army, but the Army of course stands ready to contribute to these matters. But I will make the point to you, I don’t think that there’s a military solution to anything.

The use of military force always has to be in concert with other arms of government and the international community, the rule of the law, the holding to account of people who transgress internationally recognized rules. I don’t sense that Australia is doing anything other than contributing very appropriately to these issues at the moment. That’s the view of the soldier of course, but I think that appropriately, we can be very proud about men and women in the ADF or what they have done in recent times and what they’re doing now and what they are doing in the future because we are a deeply ethical defence force.

But you’re not going to solve these matters at the point of the gun. You’re not going to kill your way to victory. How victory happens is going to be through slow, painful, gradual change in communities, in our own society and around the world and as a student of history, that is the work of decades maybe centuries. A very depressing …

Anne Summers:         On that sombre note. I think we could have talked for another 90 minutes at least. There were so many issues around the military and we’re just now moving on to some of the more specific conflicts in the world that we could have talked about and I’m sorry that we have now run out of time.

Just before I formally thank David Morrison for his amazing remarks tonight I just want to give a shout-out to a few people who are here. To Stephen Clark and Wendy Farley who are from the ASR Design Team. They are the two designers who make the magazine and Anne Summers Reports, which I know you will subscribe to. If you don’t, you will after tonight. They make it look so fantastic and of course, look who’s on the cover, a lovely portrait of General Morrison.

I also want to thank Sandra Alexander, who has poured her design expertise to the filming of this event and to thank Micha Birkby and Zaina Ahmed for womaning the microphones tonight and to Dr Catriona Wallace and Julie Trajkovski for an extraordinary and ongoing friendship and counsel, and last but certainly not least, I want to thank The Indispensables, Helen Johnstone, who is our partnerships manager who’s always on the lookout for new partners, sponsors, advertisers and anyone who would like to be associated with the fabulous work that we do. Tonight is just an example.

And to Christine Howard, who is my executive assistant and who makes everything happen and whose fabulous eye for detail means that nothing gets overlooked and I cannot thank her enough for what she does.

Before I wind up, I want to tell you about our next conversation because I want you all back here on Tuesday, 7th April, on this very venue to hear me talk with the Sydney Swans champion and dead-set legend, Adam Goodes.

I hope you will be there because I am sure it will be as amazing as tonight has been. We’ve been so privileged to have a serving Chief of Army be willing to sit here and talk so frankly and so personally. He didn’t shirk any questions. He went much further than I think we could have even reasonably hope that he did and I think the only chance for change in this country and, God knows, I think we all know here tonight how desperately we need it, is for all of us to have the kind of frank conversations that we’ve been having tonight about what’s wrong, particularly in the area of violence and how we address it and to have a leader like General Morrison willing to be part of this conversation.

It’s not just inspiring but it’s also very encouraging, I think because it’s practical. It gives us concrete things to take away with us. I want to thank David most sincerely for being here tonight and being part of this conversation. I also want to thank him on behalf of ASR for donating his time. He donated not only the time tonight but also several hours a few weeks ago in Canberra when I came and visited you in your office and interviewed you and also a couple of hours later in Sydney when you posed for these photographs.

I really want to thank David for that extraordinary generosity in donating his services to the magazine. We depend on these events to keep the magazine going. To thank David for his generosity, we’ve made a donation in his name to Legacy, which was his nominated charity, and I would like to just give you the receipt for that donation to prove that we did it. Legacy, of course, is an organization that looks after the families of service men and women who have died or have become incapacitated as a result of their service to this country.

Please join me in thanking Lieutenant General David Morrison.

David Morrison:         Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Anne Summers:         Good evening everybody, and welcome to this, the fourth of the Anne Summers’ Conversations Event Series. As you will remember, the first of these was with Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister. The next was exactly a year ago in this very venue with environmentalist Tim Flannery, and last June we had a conversation with double Academy Award-winning actor Cate Blanchett.

Tonight, we’re privileged to have the head of the Australian Army, General David Morrison, who I will introduce in a minute. I think we’re in for a fascinating evening. It’s not every night you can sit down with a General and have a frank discussion about sensitive issues to do with the military, but that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing tonight.

Before I introduce him, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and pay my respects to the elders past and present. This place is, was and always will be, Aboriginal land and I thank the owners for allowing us to share it.

Now, I’d like to introduce to you the man who, during his 36-year military career, has commanded the second battalion and the third brigade, been Director of General Preparedness and Plans for the Army, the Commander of the Australian Defence College, the Deputy Chief of Army and the Army Forces Commander based here in Sydney at Victoria Barracks.

He has twice been awarded the Order of Australia. In 2011, he was made Chief of the Australian Army. Please welcome Lieutenant General David Morrison.

[claps]

Well, that’s an enthusiastic welcome. I think you’re a popular person, David.

David Morrison:         I bet Cate Blanchett got a better one.

Anne Summers:         Well, I would say it was different. We’ve decided that rather than being the General and the Doctor tonight, it would just be David and Anne and be informal. I would like to begin our conversation by referring to the video that of course was what made you famous, both nationally and internationally.

It’s not often that the head of the Army does a video talk to his troops and tells certain members to ‘get out’. It’s usually the other way around Uncle Sam asking you to join.

I am just wondering, David, if you could tell us how you came to make that video. Is that a normal form of communication with your troops? Did people know it was coming, what sort of warning did they get about the subject? Just tell us how you came to make it and what happened.

David Morrison:         I learned about the activities of this group that styled themselves the Jedi Council in April of 2013. The matter had been under investigation by a couple of different police forces and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) investigative service for some time, but it was only as they understood – particularly the ADF Investigative Service understood – just how serious the matter was and how far reaching it was, that they came to see me.

When I learned of it, I’d spoke to the then Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) (General) David Hurley. And then spent time with the Minister for Defence who at that stage was Stephen Smith, and what I wanted to do, Anne, was to, with their encouragement indeed, a strong endorsement, was to try and deal with what was a grave reputational issue at one level and a terrible travesty in terms of the women who were the victims of this group in a way that was different to how Defence had managed so many different other issues like this. I don’t think anything has been quite like it.

Anne Summers:         Can I just interrupt you there? What was it about – let’s call it the Jedi Council as a form of abbreviation. There had been the Skype scandal. As we know, almost every year there has been a report or an investigation into some aspect of bad behaviour in the military, not necessarily always the Army. This is not something unfortunately that was new. What was it about the Jedi Council behaviour that was so different or so outrageous?

David Morrison:         Well, I think there were three things. First, the seriousness of the offence caused to the unwitting victims of this group. That first and foremost …

Anne Summers:         Perhaps we should just explain to people what we’re talking about? These people were filmed?

David Morrison:         There were episodes of filming consensual sexual acts but with the woman unaware that the filming was taking place. Then, that footage being made available across the Defence restricted network which is our own internal computer system to other members of the Defence Force, particularly the Army, though not exclusively. There was that. Then, there was the fact that the people involved, the perpetrators involved, weren’t cadets of ten weeks’ standing as had been the case with the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) issue.

Anne Summers:         That was the Skype …

David Morrison:         The Skype issue. That’s right, but there were in fact in some cases, middle-ranking officers or senior non-commissioned officers and that changed my mind, and David Hurley’s mind, about the nature of this. It was even more of an affront to what we, the leadership of the ADF, had been trying to do particularly in response to [Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick] Liz Broderick’s review of the treatment of women in the ADF following the Skype issue in ADFA in early 2011.

The third issue was that since my life-changing meetings with Liz Broderick several weeks after I became the Chief of Army, I guess I had invested much more than just a professional focus in trying to deal with the treatment of women and giving women opportunities to reach their potential particularly in the Army. I just found that when I was first briefed about it in my office, I was almost overwhelmed by it and with my …

Anne Summers:         What? With rage?

David Morrison:         Yeah. There was definitely that, but there was concern for the women.

Anne Summers:         These women didn’t know that their images are being …

David Morrison:         No. I rang them later before I went public to tell them.

Anne Summers:         You spoke to each of them?

David Morrison:         Yeah. I spoke to all those who wanted to speak to me and apologized and offered whatever support we could offer and most of them took us up on that. I was very concerned about the reputation of the Australian Army because I owned … owned … I had tenure as the Chief. The challenge, the problem and the solution were mine. We wanted to be public about it.

Stephen Smith said, ‘Look. We will handle this differently to Skype. I want one person speaking.’ I said, ‘That is me. This is the Army’s issue and I own this.’ He and David Hurley said, ‘Right. It’s yours to carry. How do you want to do this?’ I said, ‘I want to call a press conference.’

At first, we’re saying all along, ‘Look. You can’t go yet. You can’t go yet. We’re still finding more about this.’ Every time we kick a rock over, something scuttles out from underneath it and that’s because the assault on these women’s privacy, dignity was largely done in the world of information technology. The computer network had to be examined. There were thousands of emails that had to be pored over to find out who should be held accountable.

I kept pressing but it wasn’t until weeks after I was told that we were in a position to go public. Then, thinking about it, with a very small group of people whose opinions I trusted and trust deeply, my chief of staff, Simone Wilkie, the deputy chief of staff, Leigh Wilton, the Deputy Chief of Army, Angus Campbell at the time and Cate McGregor who was more pivotal in what I am relating.

Anne Summers:         Who was your speechwriter at the time?

David Morrison:         Yeah. Well, there were a whole range of issues in her life clearly, but she was my speechwriter as well. I said, Right! We found the date. The minister was happy with it and I knew that I’d be talking to the Australian public and I thought that there would be a lot of interest in this and of course, there was.

I was most concerned, Anne, about the Army and how the Army would react to this and my feeling was then and still is now that if I’d simply been behind a podium and talking about the Army to the Australian population through various media outlets that that would lack the impact that I needed to make on the soldiers of the Army. But also, it creates an inevitable question in their mind. I am talking collectively about, ‘Is this bloke doing this for the right reasons or is it just simply another General out there expressing outrage?’

So I said, ‘Look. What I want is … I can’t speak to 45,000 people face to face, but I want a recorded message that goes to the very heart of why I am so concerned and why I think that the actions of these men and actions that have preceded them just had to stop.’

The idea then was that I’d record a clip and it would go out. I thought in my naivety just on the Army website. So I said to Cate, ‘Write something. Don’t spend too long on this. I need it.’ She spent about … I don’t know … I think she spent about four hours on it I think and produced a lot of the words and she gave it to me. I played around with it for about an hour and a half in my own time the night before.

Then, I got it to what I wanted. I gave it to my staff. They sent it over and put it on the teleprompter and I walked over to the recording studio that we have down in Defence headquarters with my media adviser, Bec Constance, and I said, ‘Right. We’re ready to go.’ I said, ‘Remove the flag from behind me. I don’t want the Australian flag in the backdrop. This is not a nationalistic message here. This is me talking to my work force.’ Then, I knew the words pretty well by then because …

Anne Summers:         I hear it was one take.

David Morrison:         Look, I was deeply offended and I was really angry.

Anne Summers:         Well, I assume everybody here has watched it. If you haven’t, I would certainly recommend it. It’s been viewed one and a half million times and your anger, I think someone has described it as ‘white hot anger’, is so apparent and that is what makes it so powerful and it’s what as one of your colleagues described to me, It’s the rage and the passion and the honesty that think people have responded to, firstly because here was a senior man standing up to bad behaviour and sounding like he means it finally.

Secondly, this is the Army speaking and that one of your colleagues has said to me that you’ve given the Army a voice nationally and internationally and this is something that they actually value.

David Morrison:         Look, it’s wonderful to hear you say that and of course, I don’t track the number of hits. In fact, I’ve only seen the clip once, which was immediately after the recording, and I’m not going back to it. I don’t feel I need to. I had no understanding and no idea of the impact it would have. In fact, I made a note in my diary that I recorded it on Wednesday night …

Anne Summers:         13th of June 2013.

David Morrison:         Wednesday morning. It was played on the Thursday and I had a note in my diary on the Saturday morning that as people started to contact, I said, ‘It’s been watched 10,000 times, exclamation mark, exclamation mark.’ The point …

Anne Summers:         You couldn’t possibly have predicted that with a year later –almost to the day – you’d be on a stage in London with Angelina Jolie talking about rape.

David Morrison:         No. No. No, that hadn’t crossed my mind. I was trying to deal with …

Anne Summers:         Funny, that. So, what was she like?

David Morrison:         This is where I could tell an expansive story and everyone will go, ‘Wow.’

Anne Summers:         Just a snapshot will do. We’ve got other things to move on to.

David Morrison:         I doubt whether I’ve had a briefer meeting in my life. She was great. All jokes aside, this is a woman who has of her own volition given of herself to a cause around treatment of particularly women and children in troubled and conflicted societies in a way that I think is just remarkable. But my meeting with her was very brief and it was surrounded by a group of media who … I’ve been in some relatively dangerous positions during my life, but I think I actually feared for my own safety.

Anne Summers:         Just on a serious note. The summit that you were both attending, I think along with the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, was called the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence and actually you signed a protocol, or 155 countries signed the protocol about removing impunity from rape in war. Do you seriously think that we can end rape in war?

David Morrison:         That would require a correction in human nature that has defeated us for the last ten millennia. No, I am probably more Hobbesian in my view of human nature, which leads me to be more pessimistic than perhaps I should be. But if you can’t completely eradicate it, you can certainly take steps that we haven’t taken to date, to hold to account people who commit these terrible crimes.

Anne Summers:         Consequences.

David Morrison:         Now, we are a long way short of that. The International Court of Justice does what it can. The UN does what it can, although I think it could be stronger. There are levels of immunity for UN Peacekeepers that come with the Charter of the UN that I think at least could be re-looked at. I think too that as a global society, we just need to be much more rigorous and focused in doing something about this.

Anne Summers:         We’re going to come back to this subject.

David Morrison:         Yeah, sure.

Anne Summers:         I think we’ll just move on for a moment just to get to learn a little bit more about you, David Morrison, and where you’ve come from. I think we’re now very interested to know what makes you, as distinct from people who perhaps gone before you, act in the way that you have.

I guess one obvious question is: you’d been in the military a long time, 34 years, 35 years, by the time of the Jedi Council. How was it that you weren’t aware of the kinds of behaviour that was evident in all the reports and all the inquiries? After Skype, there were seven inquiries. How could you be so shocked by something that surely must have been around for a long time?

David Morrison:         Look, it has been around for a long time and I’ve dealt with many significant instances of unacceptable behaviour during the course of a long career, but I’ve largely spent my … I was brought up by my parents to, I think, behave ethically and to look for the good rather than the bad in people.

I was probably naive in my understanding of just how prevalent some of this behaviour was. Of course, I knew that there’d been 13 reviews into ADF culture over 15 years and hundreds of recommendations in those 13 reviews looked depressingly like each other. We hadn’t really moved very far forward, but coming into the job, when you walk into the very first meeting as the Chief of Army, the bigness of the job struck me … I’ve been the deputy chief. I’ve been in and around the hierarchy of the ADF for a decade.

Anne Summers:         Your father before you was a General?

David Morrison:       That’s right.

Anne Summers:         You’ve been in the military. Your family has been in the military 70 odd years.

David Morrison:         Now, I owned it. I owned it. By that stage, [Sex Discrimination Commissioner] Liz Broderick had come in to Defence and had made a life-changing impression on me and I know that we’re going to talk about it in a little while but she had introduced me to women who had been the victims of terrible behaviour and I had heard from them in a very private and a very personal way and they had affected me and changed my life as well.

Anne Summers:         Why don’t we just start talking about that? Let’s just explain the context of how this came to be … Liz Broderick asked you because she felt that you weren’t taking these issues perhaps as seriously as you might.

David Morrison:         I think she felt that more generally, I am not sure that she identified me as being particularly obdurate in this area or in this … It needed to be the focal point of their lives.

Anne Summers:         Whatever the motivation. She asked you if you would meet with some young female soldiers, one on one, out of uniform and in an anonymous setting in Sydney, away from Canberra. Can you tell us about one of those meetings?

David Morrison:         I can tell you about all of them because they are imprinted on my psyche and will remain there for the rest of my life.

Anne Summers:         One in particular, the young soldier who came and saw you with her mother, and the mother was very upset about what the Army had done to her daughter.

David Morrison:         When her mother said, ‘I trusted you.’ So it was personal from the very instance and it absolutely should have been – and that deepens the indelible mark on me. ‘I trusted you with my daughter and look what you did.’ There is no way I would ever seek to not own that. She did. She did trust me, the Chief of the Army, with her daughter and I let her daughter down.

Anne Summers:         What happened to her daughter?

David Morrison:         Yeah. The daughter who’s still serving said, ‘Look. I am really nervous.’ I thought, well. You’re nervous, so am I! Because as I’ve said earlier, I haven’t been living in some sort of cloister all through my military career. I’ve seen how women were affected by their service but I did not know and I can be blamed for this and I am not trying to escape at all. I did not understand the level of personal pain to the level that I do now and I have taken part in restorative engagements as a result of requests from the Defence …

Anne Summers:         Can you just quickly explain what ‘restorative engagement’ is? For people who are not familiar with it.

David Morrison:         Well, Liz [Broderick] kicked it off. At first we didn’t call anything other than ‘the Chief is going to meet with three women sequentially over a six-hour period and hear firsthand how their lives have been blighted by the military service and the treatment of people that they should have been able to trust, peers or superiors’.

Then, under the response to the … There has been a big review into abuse in the military by [Defence Minister] Stephen Smith and [Prime Minister] Julia Gillard instituted and it’s called the Defence Abuse Restorative Task Force – the DART – headed by [former judge] Len Roberts-Smith. It’s compiled. I gave you the report in my office. It was 60 years of sins. They have taken an approach where victims of terrible treatment get the chance to sit down with people like me and tell their story.

I have done a couple of these as well but the immediacy of hearing those three women’s stories – they absolutely have changed me. I defy any man to start on such an intimate conversation with an open mind and not be affected.

Anne Summers:         Is that what it’s going to take?

David Morrison:         Yeah.

Anne Summers:         It’s for men in powerful positions to sit down one on one with the people in their organization? Is that how …

David Morrison:         How do you change culture? I don’t think there is anything harder than changing culture. And, what this culture? I am no anthropologist. I have used the shorthand description that I think culture is essentially the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and what we then believe as a consequence. And so it’s all about communication. You view the Army because you’ve had a particular conversation or seen something and then, someone’s added lustre to that observation and you form your view.

That is a sizable drop perhaps in the well of culture. Well, for me, I own Army’s culture. I owned Army’s heritage. I live in the past in that respect and I know it. There’s so much to be proud of but there’s a lot that goes to the heart in a really troubling way about the military’s culture.

Anne Summers:         How did you feel personally when that woman, that mother, said that to you? You’ve said later that ‘this was not the Army that I loved and thought I knew’. What did that do to your self-belief and your certainty, about the choices that you’ve made about your career?

David Morrison:         It called them into question, in a life-changing way, in a nice air-conditioned office in the Human Rights Commission, while the rest of the world got on with their business. It called into question the organization, the institution that I had been a part of all of my life because my father was a wonderful man, a very ethical soldier, and I have travelled around and I have heard stories and I met people, good men. Then, I joined the Army.

Then, his service and mine overlapped for 70 years … He joined in 1945 and here I am in 2015, 70 unbroken years, and yet in the space of that day, everything was being called so fundamentally into question. This was well before the Jedi Council. This was …

Anne Summers:         You didn’t feel compelled to make a videotape address to the Army after hearing these girls talk?

David Morrison:         No, but we tried to do it in a different way. We were making big headway by 2013. I’d set targets to increase the number of women in our workforce. We’d changed policy around flexible workplace arrangements, around maternity leave. We invested a huge amount in changing the messaging around recruiting. We’d had talent out-placement programs put in place. There were a whole range of things that were happening.

Then, you get blindsided again by the actions of these men that you know.

I’ll tell you a story. The night before the press conference, I came up to Sydney to speak to all of the senior commanders in the Army, all brigadiers and generals, and I told them what had happened and what I was going to do about it.

I stayed up there for about three hours. Then I flew back to Canberra and I was with just one other person, a regimental sergeant major of the Army, David Ashley, the best soldier I’ve ever served with, who not only gets what I am trying to do in the Army but is a 50 per cent of the solution because he has been tireless in his commitment to talking to soldiers and insisting on a change.

He said something to me that was just simple and profound. He said, ‘Sir …’, I was sitting in my seat, slumped in the seat of the plane staring at the window thinking, ‘Tomorrow is going to be the worst day of my life.’ It deserves to be. I wasn’t seeking sympathy. I wasn’t looking for shoulders to cry on, but I just felt it’s going to be the worst day of my life.

He said, ‘Sir, we can’t let the actions of these men define who we are. What’s got to define us is how we respond.’ Now, it’s simple but at that moment, it was the best thing I could possibly have heard. I got off the plane feeling quite different to how I’d felt getting onto it and because we were all trying to do things in the Army to improve the opportunities of 51 per cent of the population and this was a terrible setback, but I got off the plane and I thought, well, bugger this, we’ll hold every single person to account.

I don’t care how long it takes. Whether we discharge them or whether we censure them or whether we warn them or whether we just give them counselling because there were people right at the periphery of this who were still held to account, over 100 of them. We will do this. We will have a conversation with our workforce. We will use this crisis to further this course, and I think we have. And, of course, the video helped enormously.

Anne Summers:         You have in fact sacked, what, 200 people? ‘Discharged’, sorry.

David Morrison:         No, we’ve sacked. We’ve terminated, with a degree of malice, the careers of probably over the course of my almost four years, well in excess of 200 people.

Anne Summers:         And has that caused resentment?

David Morrison:         Not that I care about.

Anne Summers:         One of the things that you said to me when we had our interview a few weeks ago is when you are the Chief of the Army, it’s very hard to have other people to talk to – you don’t have any peers and you talked to me about your membership of the group called Male Champions of Change. I want to acknowledge that two of the members of the Male Champions of Change are here this evening, Simon Rothery, who is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Glen Boreham, who is a non-executive director and formerly the head of IBM. I thank them very much for coming along.

David Morrison:         Yeah. Thank you, Glen and thank you, Simon.

Anne Summers:         Can you just tell us a little bit about the Male Champions of Change and how it’s helped you? I understand you’ve also helped some of the people in the private sector.

David Morrison:         Yeah. Again, it was an initiative of Liz Broderick. Liz is, I think, one of the truly eminent Australians and her view … It’s really interesting because I understand much more about feminist issues than I ever thought I would. I joke, but only quietly, that I’ve read more feminist literature in the last three years than most men would read in five lifetimes but it doesn’t matter, it’s made me a better person.

Liz of course took the view, and it’s been contentious in some feminist circles, that men have to be engaged in this issue around gender and gender diversity and opportunities for women in a way that they haven’t and I know that there are some women who are of the view that this is not a man’s fight. It’s our fight to win and while I had deep …

Anne Summers:         How do you see it?

David Morrison:         While I have deep respect for that view, I don’t agree with it. I don’t see this any more as a feminist issue. I think this is a societal issue. Over 50 per cent of society are denied opportunities that are accorded to men because of their birthright and we need to change that and Liz is …

Anne Summers:         How can you, as a male leader of an organization, in this case the Army, how can you and the head of all these other organizations, what can you actually do as a group together? In terms of the peer relationship, what do you chat about when you’re having a little complaints session about how it’s going?

David Morrison:         If you start from at least the arguable but I think some logical premise that men listen to other men, then if you have …

Anne Summers:         I think we will take that as a given …

David Morrison:         I am sure you do, Anne! But I think I agree with you. If you had men like Glen Boreham or Simon Rothery or Giam Swiegers [CEO of Deloitte Australia] or Alan Joyce [CEO of Qantas Airways] or David Thodey [outgoing CEO of Telstra Corporation] and those that came into the Male Champions of Change making public commentary about this – and they do. The Male Champions have been out and I think Liz keeps a record and a tally of how many occasions that we speak about this. It’s hundreds. And it’s to the United Nations or to key corporate areas in Japan or in the Middle East, let alone Europe. The level of awareness of this societal issue is, I think, raised substantially and these men …

Anne Summers:         What about the kind of peer support you give each other?

David Morrison:         Well, I’ll tell you. When there was a degree of notoriety around this Jedi Council group and it became, quite appropriately, a public issue and me out there talking to the families of Australia about this, the Male Champions were just incredible. I got emails and SMSes. When I saw them, they spoke to me about it. Simon Rothery got me in to talk to the leadership team in Goldman Sachs.

I’ve spoken now to leadership teams in companies around Australia about this because I’ve been through an experience that all CEOs would never want on their watch, but they are genuine about trying to deal with their own issues and I’ve had an opportunity to just speak to people.

When you sit around, the first time I’d walked into the Male Champions of Change, you know, I might be the Chief of Army but I don’t run corporate Australia and yet, around the table were all of these people who I’d seen at a distance who the captains of industry and I thought, ‘Strewth, I’m going to have nothing to say here.’

For a while, those that know me would be surprised at what I am about to say next. For a while, I said nothing. Then, I realized that these deeply ethical, very well intentioned and committed men were wrestling with the same problems I have. Yes, they have a different workforce, but guess what? There was a common purpose for us to share and I have found a level of peer support with the Male Champions of Change that I have found from no other group.

Anne Summers:         Let’s talk about another group of men taking responsibility and that is the White Ribbon organization – men taking responsibility for violence. I know that you got the Army to be a very strong supporter of White Ribbon and that you have said that you would like every soldier to take the White Ribbon Pledge …

David Morrison:         We will be the largest accredited workforce under White Ribbon in the history of the organization by the end of this year.

Anne Summers:         Okay. I guess what I would like to raise now is the subject of domestic violence. I am sure many of us watched Q&A on Monday night on the subject of family violence or, as I prefer to call it, domestic violence, and I think that one of the … It’s a conversation, a national conversation that needs to be had. I am very glad that Q&A did it and I’d like us to perhaps continue that in some way tonight so I want to ask you about domestic violence in the military.

You have said that one of the things you are proud of is you’ve made the military a safe space where somebody can come out and say they are transgender or somebody can come out and say that they are a victim of domestic violence and they will be treated properly. What do you do if somebody is a perpetrator of domestic violence?

David Morrison:         We get rid of them.

Anne Summers:         It’s pretty serious, I mean, isn’t it a very widespread issue in the military?

David Morrison:         Sorry, a perpetrator, you said.

Anne Summers:         A perpetrator.

David Morrison:         Yeah. We get rid of them.

Anne Summers:         How do you know? How does this work?

David Morrison:         Well, these are matters of violence. I mean, often the police are involved because these are matters of violence and there’s a lot of statistics around domestic violence in this country and anyone who even had one cursory look at this matter would know that it’s not isolated to western society or to any society – rich, poor, literate or illiterate, it doesn’t matter.

Men’s violence against women is a blight and a global one, and it compounds the barriers that are placed in front of women reaching their potential. In Australia, though, there are 800,000 women in our workforce who are affected adversely by domestic violence. Now, tonight, tomorrow, this week …

Anne Summers:         Where did you get that figure? Where does that figure come from?

David Morrison:         From White Ribbon. The point here is that if that’s the case for many of those women, the workplace is the only refuge that they have and so, I believe that it is the responsibility of the leaders within our workplaces to deal with this issue as best as they can. I think that applies to me and applies to everybody else.

Anne Summers:         In practical terms, what does it mean? What do you actually do?

David Morrison:         You’ve got to start with an education campaign because when you talk about domestic violence to most men in this country, they will look at you blankly and they go, Get out! That can’t be right! That’s one of I think the great strengths of … Well, of course, appointing Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year has done an enormous amount for this issue but White Ribbon, Our Watch, a number of other like organizations that raised a profile of this matter that remind or in fact informed men that there are only … There are three types of men in this equation.

There’s the perpetrators and they’ve got to be held to account. There’s those that seek to protect. They are people, they are men who become aware of this who start to take action whether they’re in a position of responsibility or not. Then, in the middle, is the most problematic group, well, no, the biggest problem of course is the perpetrators, but it’s the bystander.

We have millions of bystanders in this country and we probably have billions around the world. I don’t want to know. I hear something at night from the house next door but it’s not my business. She’s come to work and she doesn’t seem right, it will be okay. It will pass. It’s her problem.

Anne Summers:         What are you saying this bystander should do?

David Morrison:         Well, you’ve got to change that. You change the bystander equation, you change everything. And that’s not just of course in regard to domestic violence. That’s in terms of sexual attitudes to women, or to men and women who don’t fit the stereotype of whatever profession you’re a part of.

As soon as you can do that, that’s where White Ribbon and certainly the Army have focused most of its effort. I tell you, I will talk about life-changing moments and the women in the audience, I guess you will be disappointed in what I am about to tell you, but so be it. We sat down with a guy called … The Army leadership team, all men. It’s like the generals of the Army sat down with a guy called Jackson Katz who’s done a lot of work around the macho paradigm and the bystander issue.

He’s an American. We brought him out from the States and we’ve used him to talk to our more junior soldiers but I hit the Generals up first and he had this exercise. He had two pieces, two easels with butcher’s paper on, and he said, ‘Right. I want you to tell me now and I will write it up what you do to avoid a sexual assault or a circumstance where you feel sexually confronted during the day.’ Well, we just sat there.

No, I hadn’t thought about it. I don’t think about it. I’m a man. I’ve never been discriminated against.

He said, ‘Right. Now, I want you to think about this from a women’s perspective. What do you do?’ We had a couple of women there who got the ball rolling, but then a group of men, your generals … sat for … until I was stopped, by the way, and we had filled a number of pages.

Where are your keys? Where is your mobile phone? What do you do when you leave the house? How do you enter the house? How do you talk to people in a workplace? How do you sit? How do you enter a room? What do you do when there’s confrontation around the table? How do you step back from that? Life-changing.

I think I don’t actually believe in ‘unconscious bias’. Avril Henry [a consultant on gender issues to the Department of Defence] and I are on one page here.

Anne Summers:         Well, I’m glad to hear it.

David Morrison:         Well, I think it is conscious, and everything is. But on this, I hadn’t thought about it like that before and now I do. What I want is the men in the Army to think that way as well.

Anne Summers:         Can I just come at it in a slightly different way? I wanted to just read back at you a quote from your talk in June last year at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence when you said – it’s a very powerful quote – you said, ‘Armies that revel in this separateness from civil society, that value the male over the female, that use their imposed values to exclude those that don’t fit the particular traits of the dominant group, who celebrate the violence that is integral to my profession rather than seek ways to contain it, they do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute.’

That’s a very powerful way of putting it: the soldier versus the brute. I guess my question is: how do you contain the violence which is integral to your profession as you’ve said, and still function as an Army?

David Morrison:         Well, it takes a great deal of effort, but armies exist to, when required, deliver sanctioned and appropriate levels of coercion to achieve an end and that coercion can include legal force. Without prettying it up, armies deliver violence .We, throughout our history … I talked to corporate Australia a lot and say, ‘Hey, your brand is good but my brand is better.’

I get CEOs going, ‘Yeah, sure mate, how can that be? No, I am a captain of industry and I earn billions’, and I say, ‘Well, look. My brand is founded on Gallipoli. And Villers-Bretonneux, Tobruk and Alamein and Kokoda and Kapyong and Long Tan. It’s rooted in the 102,000 names that are etched on the Wall of Memory at the War Memorial. Australians who have given their lives for us to enjoy our present. That is a very powerful substance to the Army and it’s to be commemorated and indeed, I think appreciated. And I think Australians do but there is no getting around the fact that Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux and Kapyong and Kokoda and Long Tan and the military actions in Iraq and in Afghanistan have come with levels of violence that almost everybody in Australia, they never know …’

Anne Summers:         I guess the question is and I know as we’ve discussed before …

David Morrison:         How do you turn it off?

Anne Summers:         How do you turn it off?

David Morrison:         Well, you have to train men and women in a way that we do. You have to be an ethics-based organization and we talked about that in many organizations and society talk about being ethics-based. For armies, it’s essential. We have four standing tenets: courage, not just physical but also moral; teamwork; initiative and one that was introduced during my time as the chief, respect.

I think that it’s probably the most powerful. We have seen fantastic actions by Australian soldiers, men and women, throughout our 114 years of history that have involved the taking of life but their ability then to be a compassionate adversary, indeed, a compassionate victor, and never lose sight of the fact that they are there for a purpose, I think is a hallmark of the Australian Defence Force and certainly, its Army. At a personal level, it comes with levels of deep conflict within, inside individuals.

Anne Summers:         Stress and all kinds of behaviour that, I guess, again we’re talking about and recognizing in ways that we all had grandfathers who suffered terribly in the First World War and took it out on their families in violent ways.

David Morrison:         Yeah. Well, look at your own personal story.

Anne Summers:         Exactly. I guess one of the things that I am sure must concern you is how you prevent that violence being perpetrated which comes from the battlefield being visited on the families at home and perpetuated through generations. It’s where domestic violence and the Army’s mission intersect.

David Morrison:         Well, if you spend all day training to apply violence, you know, sanctioned, appropriate and legal violence, and then, you go home. How do you live?

Of course, the vast majority of soldiers throughout our 114 years have managed this. My father is a great example. He fought in Korea as a lieutenant.            He was a CO, a commanding officer, in Vietnam. He had 36 soldiers killed in the Ninth battalion in 1969. That was a tour of great violence and not just delivered but taken, and yet, he was the most loving man. He was the most pivotal man in my life because of his humanity and his compassion and his understanding and his humour. Now, there are the multitude of soldiers who are men like my father but there are some clearly who struggle with it, Anne, but abrogating the responsibility is the worst thing you can do. You’ve got to do something.

Anne Summers:         One final question and that is the whole question of bringing more women to military. The Army has traditionally had a very low percentage of women partly because so many jobs were banned to women until very recently. I guess one of the big questions, continuing on the theme that we’ve been talking about, and that is the extent to which women will come in … Will women soldiers change the culture of the Army?

David Morrison:         Yes.

Anne Summers:         Or will they become brutalized by it? Will they become …

David Morrison:         I would disagree with the term brutalized because that is rather pejorative, don’t you think, because it says that we all then become brutalized and as I said in London and it was something that’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever written – that paragraph – because it was right from the heart.

We are soldiers, we are not brutes. No one loves this Army more than I do, Anne, but I don’t want women to come in and be men-like. I want women to be able to live to their potential as women, as soldiers, as officers in an Army that revels in diversity, that seizes all of the advantages that accrue to us if we say to a woman, a transgendered man or woman, a gay or lesbian man or woman, men and women of different faiths, Christian, Islamic, Sikh or no religion, the Army is a place that we can use your talent.

You can reach your potential and it’s not just the win–win for you and for the institution. It’s a win for Australia because it will be secured by the most capable Army now and into its future.

Anne Summers:         Just talking about lasting change and the role individual leaders play in their organizations – how do you see that lasting when individuals leave those jobs? You as a Male Champion of Change, you’re leaving the job in a few weeks’ time.

David Thodey, from Telstra, he’s somebody you’ve mentioned, is leaving, all of the other public sector leaders, head of Treasury …

David Morrison:         Martin Parkinson.

Anne Summers:         Yeah. Martin Parkinson. Steve Sedgwick from the Public Service Commission, Ian Watt from Prime Minister & Cabinet. They’ve all gone and as far as I know, the membership of the MCC doesn’t go with the jobs – you get invited as an individual rather than an organization. I just wonder how you see this process of cultural change, of aggressive cultural change that you’ve been leading. How do you see that continuing when the people who are doing it are no longer in the jobs?

David Morrison:         Well, I don’t think that David Thodey is going to become less passionate about these issues because he is no longer the CEO of Telstra.

Anne Summers:         What will happen with Telstra?

David Morrison:         Well, that is for Telstra and its new CEO but in my case, whoever takes over from me, I think has got no choice but to continue the momentum for change. There is no going back now. No general in charge of the Army would be allowed to even quietly say, ‘Listen, we’ll just put this one to one side.’

No one is going to allow that. The families that we recruit our men and the women from wouldn’t allow it. The government won’t allow it and we’re going to be fortunate in that regard because the new Chief of Army is as deeply committed to this as I am and there is no going back. A message to those in the Army who have been resistant to change: your days are numbered.

Anne Summers:         Well, you have said there are still plenty of people in the Army who have to leave.

David Morrison:         Well, there’s Machiavelli who nailed it back in sixteenth-century Italy when he advised the Medicis that there is no more delicate matter to take in hand nor more doubt for success than to set up as a leader of change, ‘for he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things’.

Anne Summers:         Exactly. On that note …

David Morrison:         On that rather threatening note …

Anne Summers:         Do we have any questions?

Angela:           I find it fascinating that you have introduced opportunities for women. You fired those who were perpetrators and you’ve identified the bystander, but are there others who are still within your organization who are either discriminating against women or acting against women? How do you weed them out?

David Morrison:         Angela, you just keep the faith and you never lose your purpose. You listen to women and men who have ideas. One of the really great initiatives that we’ve set up is gender and diversity forums at a local level throughout the Army. Women of relatively junior rank have the chance to sit in forums and tell me what they think we should be doing.

As I said to Anne, there are no opportunities to go back here and we will continue to be focused on this and whoever takes over from me will drive it harder, I am absolutely sure, but change … We’re talking about cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight and unfortunately it may not even happen in my lifetime, but we are on the path now and there’s no deviation from it. More women will join our Army and the Army will be better for it.

Marie: I’m an HR manager, an entrepreneur and I write a blog as well. I love a lot of what you’ve said about the things that we do to change what has happened in the past. What I’d like to be able to take, just to the leaders of our corporation, is a vision of what the future looks like. What’s going to inspire people to say, ‘Let’s change without some of the horrible stories that you’ve had to hear, for example?’ What are some of the words that you can give that we can share with our leadership?

David Morrison:         Well, there would certainly be more women in the future.

Marie: Yeah, certainly.

David Morrison:         And there would be more diversity in our Army, your Army across the board – race, religion, sexual orientation of those that get you through your working day. There would be an environment where those who feel affronted by a remark, an action, the denial of an opportunity would feel able to put their hand up and say, ‘This is not right.’ We have to make a change here and this is not right and they would be listened to and action would be taken.

It would be a future where white Anglo-Saxon men, predominantly young, would realize that the ethos of the Army founded on courage, initiative, teamwork and respect is the code by which they are required to live and if they are not prepared to live by that, they can find somewhere else to work.

Now, I think in what I’ve just described … Sorry, there would be more women in positions of authority and there would be a woman Chief of Army. Now, I think that we are … The dawn has already happened here. Things have changed and things are changing faster in my workforce. I tell the Male Champions of Change this. Things are happening faster in my workforce than it is happening in theirs.

Marie: Why? What does that give us?

David Morrison:         I think that we have got people like a David Morrison or an Angus Campbell or a David Ashley or the powerful women that have got the opportunity now to represent not just themselves but their Army and their nation around the globe. Women like Simone Wilkie or a Leigh Wilton, the list goes on. They are seen not as women per se, they are seen as soldiers of an Army that defends this country. Now, I think we are well and truly in that space right now. We just need to take it further. You should think about joining the Army.

Chloe: I used to work in the tech industry where I was exposed to a very masculine tech culture. You’ve talked about changing values within organization like the Army but what action could society take to change culture within cultures or subcultures that aren’t necessarily tied to an organization?

David Morrison:         Well, I take great heart, Chloe, in the fact that the Army in this respect, partly because it’s attracted attention because we’ve been so overt in dealing with the issue, but the Army is in some respects, leading in this area. Now, we have too small a percentage of women in the Army workforce but we’re increasing it rapidly.

I think that conversations that men and women now have … Look. Anne Summers is one of the great Australians. She moulded change in this society in the 1960s and the 1970s against huge odds, but I think that we’re probably in some respects, while we’ve all comfortably moved on from the 1970s perhaps … We don’t wear flares and that’s got to be a good thing.

But I think that we’ve reached the level of stasis in some areas of our society where you do need Anne Summers, but you also need men like Anne Summers who are challenging all sectors of Australian society to make fundamental changes. Let’s face it. It’s a men’s world, it’s been created by men and when you look at the problems that the planet’s got, you got to say, ‘It probably hasn’t been the best solution.’ We should be trying something that is a bit more broad.

Anne:  Thank you. Thank you for this event, Anne. My name is Anne also and I’ve had my time as a bit of a trailblazer over the years but with regard to the military, David and the global military because the sense I get from you is it’s a global issue as well as a national issue. Have you had consultation with armies, with military in other countries? For example like perhaps the Israeli Army or some of the Scandinavian Armies that had a different cultural approach to some of these issues? If you have, what have you found out from them?

David Morrison:         I have, Anne, and I conclude my ten years as the Chief of Army in the middle of May and I am going to go and speak at NATO in Brussels a couple of weeks later. Four weeks after that, I’ve been invited to speak to the Swedish Armed Forces in Stockholm and when I was in London at the Global Summit, I had the chance to meet senior representatives of a number of countries, not just European but African, South American.

I think every chief of Army around the world or most chiefs of Army around the world realize that they have got to make this change for capability reasons. We certainly in the West are drawing from a smaller demographic. If you ignore the extraordinary talent pool that is resident in at least 50 per cent of every population around the globe, in some cases much more than that, then you are not just abrogating your responsibilities as the chief at the time but you’re selling out the Army and the nation it’s meant to protect in the future.

So there is a movement to try and increase the number of women and give more opportunities to women because people are now realizing the advantages that come through more diversified military forces but … I’m going to say this with considerable pride, they come to Australia for answers. Now, we are so far from perfect that my hand almost trembles to say what I’ve just said, but they do.

You’ve got an Army and a Defence Force that has realized that change has to happen now and the leadership from the men and senior women as well in the organization has been quite extraordinary in the last four years. So I am asked to speak and share my experiences around the world and I’ve got a great story to tell about what’s happening in Australia. It’s a very pragmatic and realistic one that we’ve still a long way to go, but what we’re doing here, I think, should be a source of pride for Australians. The soldiers of your Army are proud of it.

Tess:    Hi. I’m Tess. I’m 16 and I’m from Putney.

David Morrison:         Hi, Tess.

Tess:    You’ve described a lot of reactive measures that ADF is taking against harassment. As a young woman looking to enter the Army next year through ADFA, what are some preventative measures that you’re taking against preventing harassment as opposed to just reacting to it once it’s happened?

David Morrison:         Well, we are so more energetic and engaged in holding people to account, Tess, than I think we were in the past. I think the real revelation for Army’s leadership came in the wake of the Jedi Council and I brought to Canberra the senior soldiers in every unit in the Australian Army. We had 120 senior soldiers sitting in an audience who when they were taken through the issues that the Army faces by my deputy chief of staff, Colonel Leigh Wilton, and it changed their lives as well. Because when you’re in a unit, when you’re in a business unit, when you’re in an Army unit, you tend to see the world through a pretty small straw. What happens in your unit is your world. If you have a couple of instances of really unacceptable behaviour, you do manage it but you see it as bad apples. When you actually see across an organization as big as the Army, the plethora of issues that I deal with as the chief, and there are hundreds, and you become aware of them, you suddenly start to understand the size of the problem.

Now, since then, since 2013, you can’t hold the position of responsibility. You can’t be a commanding officer. You can’t be a regimental sergeant major. You can’t be a major responsible for a command in an Army without being fully aware of your responsibilities to make not just yourselves but those who worked for you fully accountable for their actions.

Now, it is not perfect, Tess, and I would be a liar if I told you if you’re going to go to ADFA and join the Army after that, that you won’t be confronted with difficult issues but I will give you this guarantee: that if you are, and if you put your hand up and you tell a man like me that this has happened, they will do something about it. And you putting up your hand will help change our organization again for the better.

Jay:      Congratulations on what you have achieved so far. It’s a brilliant achievement. My question is about your Male Champions of Change. Good initiative, fantastic to see it’s happening but aren’t we at a point now where it’s not just men doing it and just women doing it, shouldn’t we be doing it together finally?

David Morrison:         Yeah. Certainly. There’s no sense of ownership amongst the Male Champions of Change as I belong to or indeed, the many other Male Champions of Change that have now stood up – in the property industry, in sporting codes, in areas around the globe now. Liz Broderick has more frequent flier points than all of us put together, I’m sure, and what a wonderful representative of our society and the changes we’re trying to make.

This isn’t a male issue. No one is saying that but it isn’t just a female issue either. As I said earlier, I think it’s a societal issue. We as a society need to be addressing it. Please, well I hope you don’t, I talk about these matters but I’m no expert in them. I’ve never been discriminated against. In this regard, you’ve probably faced so many more challenges than I have. It’s not about quietening your voice out. It’s about sharing the stage with you.

Jay:      Oh, no. Definitely, I am just stating that in the twenty-first century of 2015, it’s fantastic that women have been able to take the rights from way back in the end of the nineteenth century and have been bringing them through and men have been trying to take this voice, but at what point do we stand together and do this and not do this as separate entities of the male or female.

David Morrison:         Well, I think we are now in a way that we probably haven’t done. When the Male Champions of Change started, the focus initially was on the number of women on boards and in more senior positions within corporate Australia and this has gone much more broad than that. The public service has been involved. The Army has been involved and in our meeting before the one we held last week, Rosie Batty was asked to come in and speak to the Male Champions of Change and this meeting concluded with a commitment, I think.

I don’t want to speak for the men who were there but certainly a much greater commitment to issues around domestic violence and the role that men and women have to play in positions of responsibility and accountability in the workplaces of Australia to try and do something about this.

I am not trying to paint Camelot here but I think we are at a tipping point in twenty-first century Australia and I think that there is a role for all of us, male and female, to do something about it and I think we’ve got more opportunities to do that than was the case even as recently as five years ago.

Megan:           You were kind enough to come to the Bar Association and launch our best practice guidelines over sexual discrimination, bullying, harassment, victimization, vilification, etc., which was wonderful. You talk a lot about Champions of Change and how important that is and I agree. The Bar is trying to do something similar but we call it ‘Advocates of Change’.

David Morrison:         OK.

Megan:           What you said though earlier on in this discussion was that it didn’t come home to you as a reality until you sat down with that young woman and her mother and she told you what happened to her that you finally understood exactly what was going on and took it seriously – not to imply that you weren’t taking it seriously before.

David Morrison:         I took it personally. I think that’s the difference.

Megan:           Yes, that’s right. So short of having every woman go to every man and relate their personal anecdote and have that man take personal responsibility for that problem, how do we see real change outside of the Champions of Change model?

David Morrison:         Well, I think that’s what you got to do. People never do things for your reason. They only do them for theirs. That’s human nature. The change for me, it was multilayered but that was a pivotal moment in my life and as I’ve said, the matters became personal and of course, I made it even more personal by my knowledge that I owned the issue because I was the chief, but I was deeply affected by it.

We’ve now trained every senior officer in the Defence Force, in the Army. I can speak to a general, a brigadier, colonel who are taking part in the restorative engagements required under the response to abuse. There are about 200 senior officers, almost all men but not exclusively, who are now having a similar exposure at a very personal level to the true meaning of being a victim.

This will change the defence forces well and I think that we need to do this more broadly. It’s only when you sit down and finally peel away the shades of grey and understand what the real black-and-white issue is, that I think true understanding comes. I think you need to do that in schools. You need to do it in community groups. You need to do it in our media. You need to find women with the extraordinary courage of someone like a Rosie Batty to tell male Australia, in this case, really what it’s all about and break through the enamel that most men are either born with or develop very soon after birth, for a real meaningful change to happen.

We’re seeing that and certainly in the Army, this happens every day now. I think it’s the right thing to do. You need strong women who are prepared to tell their story. The level of courage of those three women was just extraordinary: telling the most senior male in their organization what was what. And having him visibly affected by what he was told, visibly affected still. So I don’t think we should step away. In fact, I don’t think you can make cultural change happen in any other way.

Judith: Hi. My background is mental health. You’ve identified the bystander as a huge part of the equation here and I’m very curious how you propose to teach people or raise consciousness of the mainstream that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander and that doing nothing makes you a very big part of the problem.

David Morrison:         Well, we do it every day in the Army. We’ve had people come in and facilitate training sessions at all levels but it’s now required, mandated training that we do in every part of our workforce and it’s the same in the Navy and the Air Force and it goes to the heart of being a bystander.

I spoke about it in London. In fact, there are no bystanders. If you categorize yourself as a bystander, you are in fact a perpetrator. That’s really the issue, isn’t it? You do nothing, you make a voluntary conscious decision to do nothing, in my view, you’ve just set the standard for yourself and it’s not good enough.

Look, when we dealt with the Jedi Council issue, any number of people were disciplined and held to account not because they’d sent the emails and forwarded them on, but they’d received them and done nothing about it.

We as a society are a long way from being perfect but if we stopped people, even a small number, from being a bystander … There are people in this audience tonight who are affected by domestic violence. When they go home and it happens, there are other people who are aware but who will do nothing. In my view, they too are perpetrators.

Catherine:      I just wanted to begin actually by recognizing with gratitude your authenticity in leadership around your role as Chief of Army.

David Morrison:         Thank you.

Catherine:      The pleasure is mine. My question actually is perhaps I offer to both of you for comment. With your impending graduation as Chief of Army, I wanted to know whether your new role which I suspect will probably have a greater level of awareness and advocacy around some of these issues as you go on to speak with other organizations, how you see that role and its interdependent relationship with media outlets in terms of the future and promotion and dissemination of your message?

Now, in asking that question, I guess the source for that, for me, was I had cause to do some research; specifically I was looking at Liz’s pathway for change and her success in her current role and I noticed with some level of concern with very few exceptions that most of the interviews either written or in fact, video, opened with the discussion about how she looked, that she was married, and her children.

David Morrison:         Yeah.

Catherine:      I made it an objective of mine to ascertain a little bit about your background and whether you had children. I, to be perfectly honest, had to go to quite a lot of interviews to find the answer.

David Morrison:         I have three sons.

Catherine:      This is what I found out, but the point is it isn’t a common feature of your interviews.

David Morrison:         Well, I haven’t kept it a secret and they haven’t either.

Catherine:      But nobody asks.

David Morrison:         That’s true.

Catherine:      My question is about the relationship between media outlet and your dissemination of messages going forward.

David Morrison:         Well, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of media engagement and some of it has been very difficult and that’s fair enough if you walk onto the pitch, you’ve got to take the full tosses and the bounces. I don’t mind that. Perhaps if I just say this, I got asked a question. I was speaking in Brisbane two years ago to CEDA [Committee for Economic Development of Australia] – it was a big audience.

At the end of it, I got asked a question by a man that I’ve not been asked before and I haven’t been asked since but I am going to repeat it. He said, ‘How are you affected personally by taking a public stance on this?’ I didn’t have a ready-made answer.

Then, I just said, Look. This is this, this great matter. This is the best thing I had ever done in my life. Okay. Chief of Army, what an honour? What a privilege? This is better. This is great. This is something beyond being the Chief of Army, beyond being David Morrison. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life and I will be involved in it.

I will finish in May being a soldier. I will now never lose the passion for embracing true diversity in Australia, and elsewhere, because that is the future of the planet.

Jennifer:          David. I’m Jennifer. I’m a law student from Macquarie University. Every day, there are atrocities committed against women and children in conflict zones worldwide. You mentioned imparting to the international community that particularly the UN could do more to end impunity for rape and sexual violence in conflict. What steps do you think should be taken to achieve this?

David Morrison:         I’ve been approached by a group in Canada and asked if I would be involved in their work to at least discuss with the UN ending immunity for UN Peacekeepers. Now, as I understand it and I am no expert in this area, they are given immunity not just under the charter of the UN but also, on the status of force arrangements that are made particular to each UN mission.

Now, I wander into dangerous territory here because my comments are clearly public but I have a considerable degree of empathy with the core concerns of that group and I have said that I will certainly be involved. Now, it’s difficult and I would never get out in front of my government, and I would be very concerned if an Australian peacekeeper was going to be held to account in a judicial system in a country whose judicial system we had no confidence in. But there has to be ways and means that men and women of good intent can work around this.

I do think that while the problem is certainly not predominantly within peacekeepers under the UN or under any multinational group, it does exist. But people generally, particularly armies and like organizations, they have to be held to account. That requires prosecution and sentencing if they have been found to have caused through their actions, damage to particularly women and in many cases, children as well.

We’re well short of that. I do think there has to be a global conversation around this and action taken. Getting things done in the UN is difficult because there are over 160 nations involved but surely, it wouldn’t be that hard to find some common ground on this one, do you think? I answer an inadequate answer to your very good question.

Tim:     General Morrison, my name is Tim. I’m currently a law student similar to last speaker. I’m actually applying to be a reserve officer … in a few weeks.

David Morrison:         Best of luck.

Tim:     Thank you. My question is …

David Morrison:         You’re going to have to lose that beard, Tim.

Tim:     Yeah. The first port of call before I stand in front of the officers. I’m sort of in a precarious position because my question is almost word for word asked by the last speaker so I will slightly modify mine. You’ve talked a bit about UN Peacekeepers and how we need to change laws regarding them and repealing immunity for those individuals, but in light of the current atrocities in Iraq and Syria fighting against ISIS, or IS, do you feel that the Australian government and western nations in this current coalition should be doing more with the UN and other bodies to prosecute enemy combatants?

David Morrison:         Well, I think that we do need to have a national discussion about how we deal with what I think are quite existential issues in contemporary Australia and indeed, across the world. I fear that we are in the early days of yet another very long war. I am of a view that there were links between the First World War, the Second World War and many other conflicts in the twentieth century that, in some ways, gave them a unity that probably only ended with the fall of the USSR.

How that national conversation is had and what decisions a democratically elected government takes is not a matter for the current Chief of Army, but the Army of course stands ready to contribute to these matters. But I will make the point to you, I don’t think that there’s a military solution to anything.

The use of military force always has to be in concert with other arms of government and the international community, the rule of the law, the holding to account of people who transgress internationally recognized rules. I don’t sense that Australia is doing anything other than contributing very appropriately to these issues at the moment. That’s the view of the soldier of course, but I think that appropriately, we can be very proud about men and women in the ADF or what they have done in recent times and what they’re doing now and what they are doing in the future because we are a deeply ethical defence force.

But you’re not going to solve these matters at the point of the gun. You’re not going to kill your way to victory. How victory happens is going to be through slow, painful, gradual change in communities, in our own society and around the world and as a student of history, that is the work of decades maybe centuries. A very depressing …

Anne Summers:         On that sombre note. I think we could have talked for another 90 minutes at least. There were so many issues around the military and we’re just now moving on to some of the more specific conflicts in the world that we could have talked about and I’m sorry that we have now run out of time.

Just before I formally thank David Morrison for his amazing remarks tonight I just want to give a shout-out to a few people who are here. To Stephen Clark and Wendy Farley who are from the ASR Design Team. They are the two designers who make the magazine and Anne Summers Reports, which I know you will subscribe to. If you don’t, you will after tonight. They make it look so fantastic and of course, look who’s on the cover, a lovely portrait of General Morrison.

I also want to thank Sandra Alexander, who has poured her design expertise to the filming of this event and to thank Micha Birkby and Zaina Ahmed for womaning the microphones tonight and to Dr Catriona Wallace and Julie Trajkovski for an extraordinary and ongoing friendship and counsel, and last but certainly not least, I want to thank The Indispensables, Helen Johnstone, who is our partnerships manager who’s always on the lookout for new partners, sponsors, advertisers and anyone who would like to be associated with the fabulous work that we do. Tonight is just an example.

And to Christine Howard, who is my executive assistant and who makes everything happen and whose fabulous eye for detail means that nothing gets overlooked and I cannot thank her enough for what she does.

Before I wind up, I want to tell you about our next conversation because I want you all back here on Tuesday, 7th April, on this very venue to hear me talk with the Sydney Swans champion and dead-set legend, Adam Goodes.

I hope you will be there because I am sure it will be as amazing as tonight has been. We’ve been so privileged to have a serving Chief of Army be willing to sit here and talk so frankly and so personally. He didn’t shirk any questions. He went much further than I think we could have even reasonably hope that he did and I think the only chance for change in this country and, God knows, I think we all know here tonight how desperately we need it, is for all of us to have the kind of frank conversations that we’ve been having tonight about what’s wrong, particularly in the area of violence and how we address it and to have a leader like General Morrison willing to be part of this conversation.

It’s not just inspiring but it’s also very encouraging, I think because it’s practical. It gives us concrete things to take away with us. I want to thank David most sincerely for being here tonight and being part of this conversation. I also want to thank him on behalf of ASR for donating his time. He donated not only the time tonight but also several hours a few weeks ago in Canberra when I came and visited you in your office and interviewed you and also a couple of hours later in Sydney when you posed for these photographs.

I really want to thank David for that extraordinary generosity in donating his services to the magazine. We depend on these events to keep the magazine going. To thank David for his generosity, we’ve made a donation in his name to Legacy, which was his nominated charity, and I would like to just give you the receipt for that donation to prove that we did it. Legacy, of course, is an organization that looks after the families of service men and women who have died or have become incapacitated as a result of their service to this country.

Please join me in thanking Lieutenant General David Morrison.

David Morrison:         Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.

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