The 2016 Australian of the Year, LieutenantGeneral David Morrison AO (Rtd), will deliver the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation Lecture on 13 October 2016. George and Marie Jepson set up the foundation to promote psychological health and safety within the legal community, after their son, Tristan, a young lawyer, experienced depression and took his own life. Morrison, who studied arts and law at the Australian National University before he joined the army, will talk about leadership and creating a culture in which people can speak up and get help without losing their place in the legal community. Morrison has considerable experience in changing long-standing, entrenched cultural values that are no longer useful in the diverse, contemporary world. What can the world of the law learn from the battlegrounds of the military?
David Morrison burst onto the international stage when he circulated a blunt and blistering three-minute speech to the men and women of the Australian Army in June 2013.
The speech has had more than 1,726,000 views on YouTube.
At the time, Morrison was Chief of Army. Civilian police and defence investigators were examining allegations that a group of officers and NCOs had produced and distributed material demeaning to women across the internet and email.
The speech is remarkable for its brevity and bluntness.
Morrison outlines the valuable contribution of women in the defence force and then says simply: “If that does not suit you, then get out.”
But it isn’t just the unvarnished clarity of the message that has attracted so many viewers. It is the intensity of the delivery. Morrison looks straight down the barrel of the camera.
He speaks with barely contained fury. No-one watching the video can be left in any doubt about his sincerity.
He is affirming and defending the core ethical values of an organisation he has served for more than three and a half decades. An organisation he loves.
In 2014, while still Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison was invited to speak with actor Angelina Jolie, former British Conservative politician William Hague, and US Secretary of State John Kerry at the closing session of the Global Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence in Military Conflict, in London.
Again, Morrison spoke with great moral force and reiterated a core principle: “There is no place for bystanders when you are striving to be a force for good.
“To end sexual violence in conflict is a great endeavour and at its heart stands the soldier and the choice that he will make, when all is at its most elemental – a simple, terrible choice – to be a protector or a perpetrator.