Chief of Navy update - Mrs Wendy Malonyay briefs Navy Senior Leadership Group
29 January 2016
In November last year an ABC documentary ‘Hitting Home’ highlighted the scourge of domestic violence against women. The documentary revealed the level of domestic violence in Australia with frightening statistics.
One of the cases presented was that of Elliott Coulson, a sailor who killed his ex-girlfriend* Kate Malonyay in April 2013. The subsequent decision by Navy at the time to provide support at the funeral of Seaman Coulson caused great distress to Mrs Malonyay, her family and many in the community. The documentary criticised Navy for this action and for not providing an apology to Mrs Malonyay.
As Chief of Navy I accepted responsibility for this criticism and offered an unreserved apology to Mrs Malonyay in early December 2015. I subsequently visited Mrs Malonyay and together we discussed her concerns and how Navy could reconcile these through improvements in policy and process.
As part of that discussion I invited Mrs Malonyay to speak to the Navy’s senior leadership group to express her concerns so that we could all reflect on the effect such decisions have on those who have suffered such grief. That meeting occurred on 28 January. Her message was clear and the senior leadership understood. While Navy has already made some policy changes the discussion with Mrs Malonyay helped reaffirm the need for such change.
The discussion also allowed Navy to reaffirm its commitment to the White Ribbon organisation. Indeed, Kate Malonyay’s tragic death drove my predecessor, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, to achieve White Ribbon accreditation to demonstrate support for the eradication of domestic violence against women. Accreditation was achieved in June 2014 and in the 18 months since Navy personnel have shown strong participation in White Ribbon events raising funds for, and awareness of this issue. I deeply regret that criticism of Navy’s support at Seaman Coulson’s funeral has overshadowed Navy’s commitment to this cause, however, I have reassured Mrs Malonyay that our future participation will be done, in part, to honour Kate’s memory.
The Navy does not tolerate domestic violence or any other form of unacceptable behaviour and will work with all levels within the Australian community towards its eradication.
*EDIT: I wish to clarify that Ms Malonyay was an ex-girlfriend of Elliott Coulson.