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Happy Australia Day!

A commitment to gender equality diversity and inclusion makes David Morrison the Australian of the Year

Australian of the Year: David Morrison, former Army chief, given top honour for gender equality work

Former Army chief David Morrison said he was "almost at a loss for words" after he was named the 2016 Australian of the Year for his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion.

Australia Day awards:

  • Australian of the Year: Lieutenant General David Morrison
  • Senior Australian of the Year: Professor Gordian Fulde
  • Young Australian of the Year: Nic Marchesi, Lucas Patchett
  • Australia's Local Hero: Dr Catherine Keenan

The Lieutenant General, who retired last year after 36 years in the Army, was presented the award by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House.

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

"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, and we as a nation ... should be able to give them the chance to reach their potential.

"Because when they do, we all benefit, and that's what true diversity is about and why I am so passionate about it and so honoured to have been chosen as your Australian of the Year in 2016."

General Morrison said he would focus on three areas over the next year, including domestic violence, diversity and the gender pay gap and the republican movement.

"It is time, I think, to at least revisit the question so that we can stand both free and fully independent amongst the community of nations," he said.

The Lieutenant General made headlines in 2013 when he ordered soldiers to "get out" of the military if they could not respect women as equals, after it was revealed dozens of members were involved in the distribution of hundreds of sexually explicit emails.


Australian of the Year David Morrison's acceptance speech

"Evidence collected to date has identified a group within our ranks who have allegedly produced highly inappropriate material demeaning women, and distributed it across the internet and Defence's email networks," he said at the time in a public video published on YouTube.

"If this is true, then the actions of these members are in direct contravention of every value the Australian Army stands for.

"Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army. If that does not suit you, then get out."

The number of women joining the Army has since grown by 2 per cent, and the culture is "more accepting of racial, ethnic and sexual diversity", the Australian of the Year committee said in a statement.

General Morrison has since spoken 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.

He argued militaries that exclude women "do nothing to distinguish the soldier from the brute".

General Morrison now chairs the Diversity Council Australia.


Firstly congratulations to the Australian of the Year General Morrison.  The General has clearly hit a chord with a community and we should all recognise that.

For my part, I don't recognise my country.

We face an existential fight with this - a global movement that would enslave women.

But accord a higher priority to the battle of the sexes within our own Western civilisation where the rule of law applies equally to all.


Reader KJ said


KJ said:
O/T, I'm sorry Today is the announcement by PM Turnbull of the 2016 Australian of the Year. My selection is for this to go to Dr Ken Elliot and Jocelyn Elliot. These unassuming Aussies, now in their eighties, built and ran a 120 bed hospital in Djibo, Burkina Faso, Africa since 1972. They did so without major sponsorship of bureaucratic aid bodies. Over one week ago they were kidnapped by islamist rebels. Their fate is unknown. If there is a time to stand up as a country and use our every international bargaining chip, it is now, for the safety and welfare of the Elliots. Dr Elliot would not be chosen as Australian of the Year in this insipid, politically correct media-dominated society we live in. For a start he is an old while male. Next! Michael, I hope that you will follow the fate of the Elliots. While these unassuming and incredibly benevolent Australians are in threat of videoed beheading by jihadists in Burkina Faso or Mali, our Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, is swanning it in front of the cameras with the rich and famous in New York with her boyfriend and Kevin Rudd. I pray for the safety of Ken and Jocelyn Elliot, neither of whom I know personally. Their's is a story of true Australian compassion and spirit in real action. No media spin in that story at all!