Saturday, April 09, 2011

AFDA Scandal

Since the minister became involved things have been much better. She was granted compassionate leave on Thursday and is spending this weekend with family. 

She is getting counselling and has been buoyed tremendously by support from around the country.

Does she still want a career in the air force despite all this? "Definitely," she says. "Definitely."

There would be very few Australians who'd say our defence force has let us down in any way in the missions they have been required to undertake on behalf of our country and our agreements with allies. I'd go as far as to say no-one. I think we believe our defence force has done a really good job in places like East Timor, Afghanistan and managed the insane conditions of the Iraq invasion competently. We have  had nothing but admiration for their exemplary behaviour during our national disasters and their excellent leadership in the recent Queensland floods. The fact that major General Cosgrove was leading the flood recovery is more than sufficient evidence that we have a defence force of which we can be proud and which has some excellent skills for managing chaos and impossible conditions. That is what we expect of our defence force, I guess, that they are the ones who can actually lead us through unthinkable conditions. So it is really important they front up to these horrible stories of abuse and victimization and that they clear the matter up once and for all. 
"Kate" as she is now known to all of us, is yet another reminder there is an ugly sore which needs to be healed so that all Australians can serve in our defence force with a sense of pride and dignity. My mother was in the army. She had learnt from them how to be proud of herself as a woman and proud of herself as a member of the military. It also became more than evident that the good training and skills she had been imbued with during her stay in the army were the skills she could draw on when she was having to fight the sudden and agressive attack of cancer which took her life. She was part of the shoulders back, chest out, stand tall brigade and knew then she was a tower of strength.

Without "Kate" we would not have known that the filming of sexual activity and broadcasting that to others appears to be quite legal. It has taken them an awfully long time to come up with a charge. We are horrified. Disgusted. Horrified. We stupidly assumed it would be illegal so now that has given us all pause for thought and we know it is intolerable to be living in a country where that can occur and can be legally acceptable. It is wrong .No one should be able to film sexual activity and broadcast it and then force us to confront the possibility of not only videos being made of it for circulation but still pictures as well.   We are so offended by that knowledge we have shut up and that is bad. If there is not a law, I can only agree with Tim Smith on the Drum - there ought to be one and we had better remedy that quick smart. 

Since the first time I blogged about this I have been nothing but heartened. We are aware there is a real problem which needs to be addressed and we need to avoid the excuses and solve the problem. We all need to be a part of that and our silence would condone this happening again and again and again. It has to stop because that will only strengthen our military. We don't need the tosh of breaking ranks since this is a problem of fundamental human respect , dignity  and legality and resolving it will add to our military might. Hiding it away again will simply sustain a weak link. 

Stephen Smith spoke out firmly and loudly to lead the way to offer protection to Kate. He needed to because since then we have had some very good media coverage which shows our journalists at their best. They have used their skills to ensure we get a proper and serious look at this issue so that we can resolve it. We don't want another Kate. What is interesting , though, is while we have all focussed on Kate, the men involved have had no attention whatsoever. Perhaps because there is a police investigation going on, but the light has been put on everyone except the men involved. Now I have seen this article this morning then I feel we are on the right track and that the ADFA can sort out the difficulties with its cadet intake. There is nothing wrong with talking about that aspect of training young people. So many organisations are reeling from what our young people can offer as behaviour and we need to be more open about it so we can change and modify it. We have to deal with what is, not what was nor what we think it should be. These cadets are dealing out what they think is behaviour. Kate was being abused in all of that so we now need to straighten the picture from where they are. Were you Kate's father or mother what would you want to do? Nobody goes to work so their sexual activity can be broadcast on Skype. If you went into work and found out some of your colleagues had been watching what you had been doing ...seriously, isn't that enough to take action and change what is happening even if you don't think and live like that?

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