Former Lieutenant General and ex-Chief of the Australian Defence Force David Morrison has been named the Australian of the Year for 2016.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the winner’s name and bestowed the prestigious award to Morrison at a ceremony and concert at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday evening. The awards organisation said that the man was chosen for his continuous commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. He succeeded domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty as the Australian of the Year.
Morrison came into limelight when his video went viral in which he ordered Army troops to either accept women as equals or “get out” in 2013. This marked the cultural transformation within armed forces in Australia. The “Skype scandal” introduced him as a man who unfolded the blind perspectives of a male dominated society, while advocating eradication of sexism, harassment and abuse of women officers within the force.
“On all operations, female officers and soldiers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army,” Morrison said as quoted by The Guardian. “They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future. If that does not suit you, then get out.”
In 2014, Morrison delivered a speech at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict where he shared the stage with US State Secretary John Kerry and actress Angelina Jolie. At present, he holds the position of chairman of Diversity Council of Australia.
The ex-army chief accepted the award and praised Batty’s work in his speech. “She has set a benchmark for us all and the scourge of domestic violence which faces us as one of our great social issues won’t be solved in a year, maybe in 50 or 100 years but it is up to us in our lifetimes to do something about it and I look forward to contributing to her great work,” the ABC quoted him as saying. He promised to work closely on the gender pay gap and said that the financial discrimination needs to end. In addition, he also advocated supporting the republican movement.