Australian of the Year, Lieutenant General David Morrison, has learnt a lot in the past five years.
And on Monday night, the former head of the Australian Army took his audience through his personal journey for the 2016 Sir Albert Coates Oration at Federation University.
“It’s about diversity and inclusivity – the two go together,” Lieutenant General Morrison said.
He said his time as both head of the army, from 2011 until 2015, and his current term as Australian of the Year had given him quite powerful insights.
“It’s about seeing issues I haven’t seen as a white Anglo-Saxon male … and the impact on me as a man.”
Lieutenant General Morrison has campaigned heavily for gender equality, particularly in the army, domestic violence and an Australian republic, and is also the Diversity Council of Australia chairman.
He said family violence was a great concern nationally but he would “like to think” a rise in incidences was largely due to increased reporting.
He also praised the work of Women’s Health Grampians Communities of Respect and Equality (CoRE) Plan, which is a partnership of Grampians organisations to help prevent family violence.
“CoRE is a fantastic organisation. I’m so impressed with what CoRE is doing and the impact on local communities.”
Lieutenant General Morrison also spoke about workplace bullying, particularly in the health sector.
“I’ve done some work with the Royal Australian College of Surgeons on workplace bullying and harassment.”
He said the solution wasn’t about “box ticking” but providing a cultural change that included diversity and inclusivity. “It’s the corporate bottom line.”
Lieutenant General Morrison said he was also concerned about sexual violence on campuses and the sexual harassment that goes unreported.
“There are very few, if any, workplaces that don’t have issues that could be attended to – gender and equality issues around bullying and harassment.”
The Sir Albert Coates Oration commemorates one of Ballarat’s leading figures who became one of Australia’s foremost surgeons and a pioneer in the neurosurgery field.
Sir Coates served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front during WWI and became one of the hero-surgeons on the infamous Burma-Thai Railway in WWII.
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