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Defence battling with words towards inclusion


Language used in the Australian Defence Force sustains a homogeneous and increasingly oudated stereotype, forming a significant barrier for cultural change, a report released by the Department has found.

The report written by Dr Elizabeth Thompson, a sociolinguist, explored the role of language on culture and the ADF’s goal of greater social inclusion and a heterogeneous workforce that better reflects the community it serves.

Numerous DEFGLIS members were interviewed by the researcher, providing needed insight into the impact language on the social inclusion of LGBTI people. The report found that “being different risks team membership and acceptance.”

Reflecting on her research, Thompson reveals she was surprised to find that Defence was very homogenous.

“Defence felt like a bastion of white men,” said Thompson in the report.

“Implicit within the language practices of Defence are mechanisms that thwart diversity and greater social inclusion. Unless the language practices of the institution change in concert with other policy changes, sustainable cultural change is unlikely to result.”

Thomson identifies that the language used by Defence personnel centres around the idealised hero of an Anglo-Australian male soldier that is renowned for acts of courage in battle.

Among the report’s recommendations is organisation-wide discovery of ‘unsung heroes’ in order to broaden the ideal identity and provide diverse heroes for a diverse organisation.

Read the full report online:


More Analysis and reporting:


About the Author
Author: Vince Chong
Vince is the President of DEFGLIS. He is a project manager and an electronics engineer.
Also written by this author:

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