Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Did the ADF Loose its Biggest Advocate of Women’s Rights When David Morrison Retired this Week?

SUMMARY: Lieutenant General David Morrison, the outgoing Chief of the Australian Army talks with Leigh Sales about his career, the military’s mission against Islamic state, mental health, women’s rights and recruitment. Morrison is perhaps best known for his 2013 ‘Zero Tolerance Speech.’ Here are just a few highlights from the interview:


  • When Sales asked whether the Defence Force was reflective of contemporary society, Morrison emphatically replied ‘No.’ He cites the fact that only 12% of the Army workforce are female, which is a ‘lousy use of the talent on offer in 51% of Australia’s population, women.’ Morrison goes on to discuss underrepresentation of Indigenous and other ethnic groups.

Women in the Military

  • Morrison cites achievements for changing the culture around women in the military, such as 25% female Army cadets at ADFA and 20% female cadets at the Royal Military College and the ‘best maternity leave policy… anywhere in the world.’ He specifically mentions the Army’s efforts to ‘get to the heart of systemic issues around culture and to be a better organisation.’
  • When the Prime Minister asked Morrison to stay on as Chief of Army for another year, Abbott apparently referenced the work relating to ‘our culture and our treatment of women.’

SOURCE: Leigh Sales, May 11 2015, ‘”Create the society you want to live in” urges Chief of Army,’ ABC Radio Australia,

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