Tackling a real issue head on: David in conversation with Anne

When I shared with members of my network that I was going to an Anne Summers event last week the UK crowd laughed thinking of the adult store chain in the UK ‘Ann Summers’ who run fun ladies parties. In fact it was Dr Anne Summers in conversation with Lieutenant General David Morrison who decided to drop the titles and be David and Anne for the evening. david and anne What emerged was a captivating and compelling conversation exploring some real issues in the build up to International Women’s Day next week. David is the current Chief of Army (due to finish in May) and a Male Champion of Change. He was brought into the public spotlight following the way he responded to the “Jedi Council Scandal” involving women who were the victims of bad behaviour in the Australian army. This involved serious offences to unwilling female victims including the unknown filming of consensual sex which was then shared on the Defence network. This infuriated David who had been brought up by parents to behave ethically and believe in good not bad. He consequently wanted to manage the scandal in a way that was different to similar issues before that would be a real catalyst for change. To do this a public address was in order, against the advice of many. David remembers being fearful of the response of the Army. A dear colleague settled him when he said “Sir we can’t let the action of these men define who we are, what’s gotta define us is how we respond.” A video launched in June 2013 addressing the issue to his troops unforseenly made him a You Tube sensation. This has since been viewed over 1.5 million times. You can clearly see David overwhelmed with rage and concern. He described his emotions as “white hot anger, rage, passion and honesty”. To note, before he acted publically through a media conference David spoke to all women involved who wanted to speak to him and offered them support they required. m_david A pivotal point leading to his heartfelt response was a series of one on one conversations with victims set up by Sex Discriminator Commissioner Liz Broderick who David said made a life changing impression on him. One conversation was with a young female victim and her mother. The mother eyeballed him and said I trusted you with my daughter and look what you did. David took this responsibility seriously as Chief of Army and it called into question the institution had been a part of his whole life. In the space of a day his whole world turned upside down. David had no understanding of the impact his voice would have. A year later he was on stage with Angelina Jolie at a global summit talking about rape and ending violence. To help put an end to such sexual violence in the Army David has acted on these beliefs:

  • People need to hear from those women affected in a private and personal way which imprinted on his psyche.
  • Bystanders need to take a stance (I.e. Those who received the emails and did nothing about it)
  • Every perpetrator needs to be held to account – they’ve terminated in excess of 200 people in the army
  • Men need to be involved in gender issues, it’s not a feminist issue but a societal issue
  • Leaders need to become aware of the system and fully aware of their responsibility

Ways for other corporations to get involved:

  1. Support White Ribbon – the army are their largest accredited workforce
  2. Be an ethics based organisation and invest in some training
  3. Live your values, the four pillars of Army are courage, team work, initiative and respect

So what’s next for this courageous man who’s given the Australian army a voice nationally and internationally? He shared “This is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life …. it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life…. I will never lose the passion for embracing true diversity in Australia and elsewhere ….this is the future of the planet!” He believes change has to happen now and will be sharing his story around the world. David dreams of an army that revels in diversity where there is one day a female Chief of Army. Wow, a man who is truly making a difference! Would love to hear any of your thoughts. Anne’s next conversation will be with Adam Goodes on 7th April, one not to be missed! Tickets are available through this link: http://www.cityrecitalhall.com/events/id/1795/Anne-Summers-in-Conversation-with-Adam-Goodes/
Take care, until next time…
Dani
Further reading: Anne’s print interview with David in Anne Summers Reports (There will be a video made available of the conversations evening) Image citations: http://www.womensagenda.com.au/

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