Capt Shindy versus the Fascists: extreme, ill-informed fringe group menaces pioneering naval officer

You may recall we recently republished a Daily Telegraph article on the groundbreaking work of RAN Captain Mona Shindy in her role as Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs.

However this is but one of Capt. Shindy’s many achievements after 26 years of service in the ADF. Last year she was named as 2015 Telstra NSW Businesswoman of the Year. She was on active service during the 2003 Iraq War. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree and is Head of the Guided Missile Frigate System Program Office. In the 2015 Australia Day Honours she was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross.

Conspicuous Service Cross

The CSC is awarded only for outstanding devotion to duty, or outstanding achievement in the application of exceptional skills, judgment or dedication, in non-warlike situations.

So it was with a good deal of concern that we read this report in today’s Guardian dealing with the sudden removal of the Navy’s Islamic Twitter account (@navyislamic).


And how and why was the Twitter account removed?

“The head of the ALA (Australian Liberty Alliance), Debbie Robinson, who has previously described Islam as “a dangerous ideology” incompatible with Western society, wrote to the chief of the Australian defence force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, on 10 December asking the navy to distance itself from the account or delete it.

“It is completely unacceptable for an official defence Twitter account to criticise any registered political party in Australia,” Robinson said in a press release.”

We have a number of posts detailing anti-Muslim extremist Debbie Robinson’s work.

We also went through them and through the MSM carefully trying to find an achievement – any achievement – to mention.

All we could find in the MSM was that she was married to an orthopaedic surgeon, a notion we find quaintly Mad Men in its 1950s aspirational tone.

And hubby is a tad shy about his political leanings but it seems he too does have some association with Fascist foreigner Geert Wilders’s latest offshore embryonic party branch (see Perth Now)

We’d like to think that newly minted Defence Minister Marise Payne may not have been informed of this preremptory response. In case she was not you can contact her via the links  here


Uncharted waters – meet Captain Mona Shindy


WHEN Captain Mona Shindy climbed aboard HMAS Canberra to test missiles in the Pacific, a locker had to be converted into a sleeping quarters to accommodate her.

Never before had an active Australian warship carried women. But aged 23 and launching what would become a 26-year career with the Navy, this was just the first hurdle of a trailblazer.

Already she had a University degree in the blokey domain of engineering. Weapons engineer. And if this were not unusual enough, Captain Shindy happens to be Muslim, and for most of her career in the navy, has been a mother

Australian Navy Captain Mona Shindy

On board HMAS Canberra Captain Shindy and her two female room-mates were like celebrities, and not all of it was positive publicity.

“We were an absolute novelty and people knew our every movement, what we got up to and where we were. Overall the experience was a positive experience but there certainly were times that were quite challenging,” Captain Shindy says

“Most female engineers in any work environment _ you really do have to work that little bit harder initially to prove your worth, to demonstrate your competence to really be accepted fully as valued member and a real contributor to the team.”

Then came the challenge of Ramadan, and explaining as a young sublieutenant that she was fasting and would appreciate a meal being put aside for her.

The response was along the lines of: “You’ll eat with everyone else, or you just won’t.” Which left her “the middle of the ocean with a few cans of tuna”.

The response was along the lines of: “You’ll eat with everyone else, or you just won’t.” Which left her “the middle of the ocean with a few cans of tuna”.

Once the right ranking officer was made aware of the problem, a solution was soon found.

Accolade…Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year. Picture: Christian Gilles

Anger was never an option.

“My first reaction is to empathise, rather than get angry, and to try and be part of the solution and work on the education piece, through engagement and interaction and just being professional about what I do and delivering professional outcomes and results. In the end, people respect that.”

It’s an attitude that has delivered her to the pinnacle of her career, recognised this week when she was named NSW Telstra Business Woman of the Year. As Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support, Captain Shindy advises the Government on the best way to spend billions of dollars on replacement tankers, ships, patrol boats — almost everything except submarines.

She was previously charged with turning around the Fast Frigate System Program Office, from an inefficient organisation with adversarial stakeholder relationships, to a collaborative culture with performance-based contracts. And she shaved 30 per cent in costs from a $130 million budget.

“People were happy at the end of the tenure, ships were leaving the wharf on time with all the maintenance done, when initially they weren’t.”

Soon after her first tour of duty on HMAS Canberra, Captain Shindy married and had a daughter, now 20 and a son, 18, who finished his HSC on Wednesday. Their happy accident followed a decade later in the form of another daughter, now 11.

Captain Mona Shindy at Garden Island Navy Base in Sydney. Picture: Toby Zerna

The job has required service on ships for two-year durations, with time away ranging from two to six months.

“But six months in anyone’s language for a mother with two young children and a young family, is a very significant sacrifice.

“I’m not going to dress it up. It was tough.”

It could not have happened without an extended family backing her up. Crucial were her mother — “who in many ways acted as a pseudo mother for my children sometimes when I was away” — and husband, who has taken many career breaks.

“For me, the only thing that made it easier is knowing that those kids had just as much love and support from those that were with them than I could have given them myself.”

Her family migrated from Egypt when she was three.

“The moment my parents migrated to Australia, they were determined to feel as Australian as anyone else.” She holds the position of Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs, for which she was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in this year’s Australia Day honours for her work bridging cultural divides.

Cpt Shindy is a weapons engineer with 26 years experience. Picture: Toby Zerna

It is her aim to encourage more Muslims to join the defence force — around 100 of the 45000 defence force personnel identify as Muslim, 27 of them in the Navy.

“There’s lots of Australian Muslims who feel very hurt … by previous military campaigns that our defence forces have been on that have I guess resulted in discomfort and difficulty …. where those campaigns have occurred that have caused ramifications for a lot of innocent people.”

She says terrorist attacks which have hijacked aspects of religious teachings to justify those behaviours have created “fear and uncertainty for others who are non-Muslims”.

“For some people that gets looked at as the whole Muslim community,” Captain Shindy says. Some young Muslims see this in black and white “us and them” terms.

“They don’t have the maturity necessarily to see the greys and to understand that this is not everyone that has those views about you. That erodes confidence for those kids.”

There’s lots of Australian Muslims who feel very hurt … by previous military campaigns that our defence forces have been on

Her message to them is this: “You can be a proud Australian that loves everything about this great nation and still love your roots and love where you came from and straddle both worlds and both communities. That’s how I live my life and I like to help other people find their way in living those two things.”

And she can cite her own experience, including active service at the start of the 2003 Iraq War.

“It’s always tough, when you go anywhere, whether that’s Iraq or not. They were difficult times, they were interesting times I think for the whole nation.

“We are an instrument of our democratically elected government and I think that’s something that is very much accepted, understood and part of the contract that I personally have with my organisation. That’s my role, that’s what I signed up to do.”

Read more

All frocked up in Fortress Straya

Just when and where you least expect it – a military strategist on Facebook.


But there’s more

Err….isn’t that the Army contingent marching at this year’s Mardi Gras? We thought the far right didn’t approve of such things.

After all the Mardi Gras is about equality, tolerance, acceptance, celebrating one’s sexuality and having fun.

Makes a nice change from the far right which is all about homophobia, racial and religious intolerance and lots of threats of violence.


But check out Andrew’s profile pic. Certainly a nice bit of clobber for the Mardi Gras. Figure-hugging cloth of gold always goes down well – not to mention the well-muscled winged chap in the background – the one with the enormous horn.

And we really like these strategic troop movements too

Jamie Patton (ADF – Navy) ‘Deals’ With Asylum Seekers

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#auspol #ausmedia @adf

This jerk is in the Australian Defence Force. He is a racist who has a pretty dim view of asylum seekers (‘fuckers’).

Here’s some more Jamie Patton:

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Midnight’s Nutjobs

We thought we’d share this full-blown crazy from tonight with you. He posted this to a months-old blog post exposing a racist soldier.

It is not often we get someone who ticks all the conspiracy theory boxes in one post but this fruitcake manages to do so.



Don’t think he has left anyone out though we are happy to be corrected on that.

BONUS – the late great Billy Thorpe

Australian Defence Force Infantry Linked to Death Threats on Asylum Seekers

@australianarmy @abcnews24 @channeltennews @7news @9newsmelb @SBSnews #auspol

The administrator of the Royal Australian Infantry Facebook page broadcasted this anti-asylum-seeker joke to an audience of:

19,021 followers of the page +
180 (shares) x avg. 200 Facebook friends each (36,000)

= approx. >55,000 people.

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Unlikely feminist hero: Army chief’s video message draws plaudits


June 14, 2013 – 11:32AM

Rachel Olding


In full: Army chief's scathing warning
 Chief of Army David Morrison sends a stern warning to Australia's armed forces on Thursday regarding unacceptable behaviour.

His organisation is in the midst of yet another internet sex scandal but the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, has emerged as the unlikely poster boy for feminism.

If that does not suit you then get out

Following revelations of further “demeaning, explicit and profane” behaviour by his army members, the tough-talking army chief released a powerful video message on Thursday night telling defence members who degrade women: “We don’t want you.”

Steely stare: Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The three-minute “smack down” has earned him the tag of “feminist hero” on social media and even suggestions that he should run for prime minister.

With a steely death stare, General Morrison vowed to ruthlessly rid the army of sexist men and told defence members to “find something else to do with your life” if they couldn’t uphold the values of the organisation.

“No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honours the traditions of the Australian Army,” he says in the video posted on the Department of Defence website.

“Those who think that it is OK to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army.”

“On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future.

“If that does not suit you then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable but I doubt it.”

The video was posted on YouTube, where it quickly amassed thousands of views and more than 300 comments.

It followed a week of accusations of misogyny, including an attack by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the Coalition’s ranks of “men in blue ties”, the emergence of a menu comparing Ms Gillard’s body to a cooked quail and the suspension of a Perth radio host who repeatedly questioned her partner’s sexuality.

In response to the General Morrison’s video and the week’s events, feminist commentator Jane Caro said: “Feminist heroes turn up in the unlikeliest places, that’s what keeps my hope alive.”

She tweeted: “Quick, can we organise a series of leadership seminars run by the ADF’s David Morrison for all our politicians before Sept 14?”

The feminist group Destroy The Joint shared the video on social media and said that General Morrison has emerged from the week as “someone who’s got their marbles”.

Others said his performance was a remarkable show of “real leadership” that is all too rare in Australian public life.

“I’d almost forgotten what a true leader sounds like,” said political commentator and author George Megalogenis, who called the general “a gun”.

TV host Marc Fennell called it the speech of 2013 to which another Twitter user replied: “I can’t stop fist pumping. That’s f–ing leadership right there”.

General Morrison finished the video with a stern warning to Defence Force members that it was up to them to make a difference.

He called on innocent members to “show moral courage” and take a stand against those who displayed degrading behaviour.

“If you’re not up to it find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you among this band of brothers and sisters.”




A timely halt to the war within


Julia Baird            June 8, 2013

Illustration: Simon Bosch

It was one of the most important speeches in Australian military history, but not a word has been written about it.

On an ear-bitingly cold day in New York this year, Australia’s Army Chief, Lieutenant -General David Morrison, stood in front of several hundred people in an auditorium at the United Nations headquarters, in full uniform, with polished badges pinned to his chest. It was March 5, International Women’s Day; outside women were marching in the snow, hats jammed on heads as winds whistled across the East River.

Inside, the crowd stared at the military man who had come to talk to the UN women’s council. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who was also speaking there, said they were ”astonished, taken aback”. First, that a military chief was there, and second, that he was so passionate about gender equality.

He started off by acknowledging his own limitations: ”Foremost, I can never fully imagine, much less experience, the issues faced by any woman. I was born male in an advanced Western nation to comfortably well-off parents. I have never routinely experienced discrimination in my career, nor the apprehension of violence in my personal life. Most benefits of masculinity and patriarchy have accrued to me. Nonetheless, I hope those considerable limitations in my perspective can in part be offset by my sincere intent to support women in my organisation to thrive in the absence of both.”

Morrison, who has led the Australian Army since 2011, then recounted why he was there.

A year earlier, Broderick had taken three army women who had been sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers to talk with Morrison, and sat with them for hours as they told their stories. They sobbed as a stricken Morrison assured them this should never have happened to anyone, and that he was deeply sorry. He said it was his ”Road to Damascus” moment. Broderick believes this is how you effect change: ”When you engage people’s hearts, that’s when transformational things happen”.

And so a crusade began.

It was important to remember how change can happen this week, while watching the seven women on the US Senate Defence Committee forcing the military, and the Congress, to take violence against women in the American armed forces seriously. They grilled military chiefs about sexual assault, and debated seven pieces of legislation designed to deal with what is now being called a ”crisis” and ”cancer”.

The Pentagon found 26,000 members of the armed forces experienced unwanted sexual contact last year. Women in the defence force are more likely to be assaulted by fellow soldiers than killed in combat.

Just recently, a West Point sergeant was charged with covertly filming female cadets in the shower and the head of the air force sexual assault convention program was arrested for grabbing a woman’s breasts in a car park. As Barack Obama said so well: ”Honour, like character, is what you do when nobody is looking”. Which is also what you hope showering might be.

In Australia, a recent report found one in four women in the Australian Defence Force had been sexually harassed, though few reported it. It is a systemic, cultural, destructive and ongoing problem. But unlike America, criminal courts weigh charges of assault in armed forces, not military tribunals. And here, our Sex Discrimination Commissioner has worked closely with an army chief who has become one of her ”male champions of change”. It remains to be seen what he can achieve, but he is determined to make a start.

Morrison told the UN council the story of the women he met, who ”had endured appalling physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their fellow soldiers”. They had been let down by leaders and comrades, ”robbed of that irreplaceable component of their individual human personal identity – their dignity and self-respect. This was not the army that I had loved and thought I knew”.

Even the Anzac legend, he said, had become ”something of a double-edged sword”. It was misleading and damaging: ”Many Australians have an idealised image of the Australian soldier as a rough-hewn country lad – invariably white – a larrikin who fights best with a hangover and who never salutes officers, especially the Poms. This is a pantomime caricature. Every soldier is Mel Gibson in Gallipoli and frankly it undermines our recruitment from some segments of society and breeds a dangerous complacency about how professional and sophisticated soldiering really is.”

The 57-year-old soldier and father of three sons was angry that in a crisis, these women ”had not been able to rely on their mates: in other words the very thing that we claim as our defining ethos had been used to exclude and humiliate others. I am resolved to make improvements to our culture one of the fundamental elements of the legacy that I hope to leave the Australian Army”.

Morrison then recounted some of his specific goals, including increasing the number of women in the army from 3000 to 3600 by the middle of next year. He has set specific recruiting targets, provided pre-enlistment fitness programs for women, allowed for shared leave between couples and launched an investigation into childcare. In September 2011, it was announced women would be allowed into combat roles by 2016. In January this year, the army implemented ”trade specific physical standards based on capability, not age or gender”.

To get women into more senior ranks, Morrison has told the hierarchy to rethink recognition of merit. When I asked for an example, he said we should value the ”skills that come with having and looking after children”. He has begun promoting women when they return from maternity leave in order to retain them.

After the speech, Broderick says she sent Morrison a text: ”There are four women wanting to join the army and three offering marriage proposals.”

Morrison has a huge job: there will be more rot uncovered, more scandals, more frustration. He ended a phone interview by stressing he is acutely conscious of how much remains to be done. ”Change is bloody hard and it takes generations but you have to take steps. The sign of success is when the momentum does not rely on the leader. I have implicit faith this will carry forward.”

Morrison’s term ends in July next year. We can only hope his successor won’t make the road to Damascus a dead end, but a highway.

@bairdjulia on Twitter


The Speech

This speech should never have had to be written