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Home Features ‘Bastion of white men’: Anzacs haunt Defence in culture reform
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TAGS Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Defence Force, Australian War Memorial, culture change, Department of Defence, diversity in the public sector
EXCLUSIVE: An independent report into the Department of Defence’s culture has found language has contributed to reinforcing and maintaining its homogenous “white male” make-up.
Dr Elizabeth Thomson
Exclusive language and idealised Anzac imagery promoted in the Department of Defence has contributed to the “bastion of white men” culture that hampers its public rehabilitation efforts, an independent report commissioned by the department and obtained by The Mandarin has found.
Following a series of damaging revelations in the media about institutionally condoned sexual harassment and treatment of women and other minorities in Defence, the department commissioned Dr Elizabeth Thomson — then an academic with the Defence Force School of Languages — to investigate the contributing sociolinguistic factors as it embarks on a project of cultural change towards heterogeneity.
Thomson’s Battling with Words report, due to be released next month, outlines the distinct workplace cultural traits of all four services — Navy, Army, Air Force and civilian public servants — that fostered an “us versus them” mentality and excluded anyone who doesn’t look, speak and act like those already heavily represented in the services. The report states:
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The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and reported for titles including Crikey and the Star Observer.
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