Letter to the Editor - Herald Sun
6 June 2013
Dear Mr Johnston,
I am writing to express my disappointment at the article Digger shame - 34 sent home in disgrace published in the Herald Sun on 6 June 2013. The headline sought to sensationalise the number of Australian Defence Force personnel returned to Australia for disciplinary reasons. The vast majority of ADF personnel serve on overseas deployments with pride and distinction. From 1 January 2011 - 27 March 2013, the ADF has undertaken 38,277 individual deployments on 11 operations. The figures quoted in the article represent less than 0.1 percent of the total number of deployments for this period. While this figure is extremely low, it demonstrates the ADF's commitment to maintaining high standards of discipline and accountability and ensuring the welfare of our people.
I also find the inference that expectant mothers were sent home from operations in "shame" and "disgrace" offensive. Women are an integral part of the ADF and, like our colleagues in the emergency services and civilian police forces, we take appropriate steps to ensure their health and safety during pregnancy. Additionally, the article claims that the women became pregnant while serving overseas. This assumption is unfounded. As our response of 2 April stated, "Service women returning to operations from out of country leave are encouraged to undergo pregnancy tests prior to returning to theatre". I trust you will apologise to the women concerned for the unwarranted assertions made in this article.
D.J. HURLEY, AC, DSC
Chief of the Defence Force
6 June 2013