March 11, 2012
It's good to see Stephen Smith, the Defence Minister, taking on the Australian Defence Force (ADF) hierarchy by standing up for Kate the woman whom two of her fellow students filmed her having consensual sex and then broadcasting it on Skype. Kate was then subject to abuse and vilification for going public about the incident.
Senior Defence officials are still circling their wagons to protect one of their own---Commodore Kafer, the commandant of ADFA, who allowed a separate disciplinary investigation into Kate to continue while her claims of sexual misconduct were investigated. The military bureaucracy seem incapable of dealing with the embedded sexism of the ADF. Their reflex reaction of this the culture is to close ranks against outsiders and civilian criticism. of its behaviour.
Kafer now presides over an academy which is still home to five of the six young men who allegedly took part in or watched the sexual encounter last year. The sixth male cadet has quit. Two of the six were charged and have pleaded not guilty. Kate remains in Defence but far from the academy, her career on hold.
Stephen Smith should be applauded for his efforts to modernise the obstinate culture of the Australian Defence Force that traditionally explained the sexual violence and misconduct towards woman as the conduct of a few bad apples, when it is the military culture that is the problem.