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Defence inclusion advocate named Australian of the Year

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David Morrison, the first Australian Chief of Service to talk publicly about LGBTI inclusion in Defence has been named the Australian of the Year 2016.

Morrison's youtube video that went viral was explicit in telling members of the armed forces that the standard of behaviour that you walk past is the standard that you accept.

He confronted every member of the Australian Army, it went over the world and it was a story of leadership.

He said: "I with be ruthless in ridding the Army of those who cannot live up to its values."

The world took notice.

Morrison recently retired as one of the most influential chiefs of Army, releasing new values for Army and allowing a new type of conversation to permeate within the Australian Army.

Few would expect a tough-as-nails Chief of Army to be recognised internationally for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. But when former Lieutenant-General David Morrison ordered misbehaving troops to ‘get out’ if they couldn’t accept women as equals, his video went viral and he started a cultural shift that has changed Australia’s armed forces forever.

Since then, the number of women joining the army has grown by two per cent and the culture is more accepting of racial, ethnic and sexual diversity.

In 2014, Morrison was invited to speak at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, sharing the stage with US Secretary of State John Kerry and actor and activist Angelina Jolie, and arguing that militaries that exclude women ‘do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute’.

Morrison retired in 2015 after 36 years in the Australian Army, and four years as its Chief, but he continues his commitment as a champion of human rights in his new role as the Chair of the Diversity Council Australia.

His message to all Australians is to not stand by while someone is disadvantaged, he instead says to be involved, and be part of it.

"During my time as chief we formed a contract with the nation ... it speaks to me now after 37 years. I am an Australian soldier, always, you are magnificent in what you give to this country" said Morrison.

He said that it is an extraordinary time to be an Australia, but highlighted continuing inequality within the Australian community."

"For reasons beyond education and professional qualifications, or willingness to contribute or a desire to be a part of our society ... too many of our fellow Australians are denied the opportunity to reach their potential," said Morrison

"It happens because of their gender, because of the god they believe in, because of their racial heritage because they're not able-bodied, because of their sexual orientation ...  we looking to the future .. we should be able to give them the chance to reach their potential, and when they do, we all benefit."

Image by National Australia Day Council


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