A report has revealed that nearly 25% of women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) have faced some form of sexual harassment during their tenure.
The findings were part of the second phase of the Australian Human Rights Commission's report into the treatment of women in the defence force.
It also found that women faced 'unacceptable behaviour' and institutional 'hurdles' in the ADF.
According to the Courier Mail, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said the report, which was tabled to parliament, outlined 21 recommendations to counter the high prevalence of 'unacceptable behaviour'.
"The review found that the ADF is a workplace with inherent risks...and the reality is that sexual abuse does exist in the ADF today," she said.
"To be a strong force into the future and a first-class employer with a first-class reputation, the ADF must address the problem of a shrinking talent pool, the significant cost of unwanted departures, the lack of diversity among leadership and the unacceptable behaviour sometimes faced by women," she added.
According to the report, with the recommendations there was also an 'urgent' request for a dedicated unit that allowed victims to report cases of sexual abuse confidentially and ensure the perpetrators were tracked correctly and held accountable.
Other recommendations included leadership diversity; the participation, recruitment and retention of women; workplace flexibility; harassment, violence and abuse; and the responsibility of top brass, the report said.
"We found a lack of understanding about the cultural and structural impediments to female representation, as well as a certain level of acceptance of a status quo that no longer reflects the needs of a contemporary fighting force," Broderick said.
Julia Gillard has guaranteed that the government will use every avenue to investigate allegations contained in a leaked report into Defence Force abuse, the report said.
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