News: Defence 'Skype sex scandal' report handed in

The female cadet at the time of the scandal

Official report clears Defence head, mostly

The official report from the independent inquiry into the Defence Force sex scandal has been finished, but won’t be made public in any form. The inquiry, headed by Andrew Kirkham QC, found Commodore Bruce Kafer made an “error of judgement” in proceeding with disciplinary action against an 18-year-old female officer cadet at the centre of the scandal. She was engaged in an act of consensual sex with a male cadet which, unbeknownst to her, was filmed and broadcast via Skype to four others in another room. The woman later went public with the scandal because she was concerned it was not being dealt with properly by Defence. Commodore Kafer had been asked to stand aside but the report found there was no legal basis for this. He will begin work again soon. Two male cadets have since been charged and will stand trial. The scandal led to questions about how Defence handles allegations of sexual abuse, and other forms of bullying behaviour, within the hierarchy. At least 775 complaints of abuse were made to law firm DLA Piper stretching decades.

– This is how Mamamia first covered the Skype sex scandal.

Charlotte holds the Lego cafe which won

Best toy of the year for ‘girl’ Lego

It was criticised for being ‘reductive’ and ‘sexist’ but Lego’s range of building block sets for girls has proved a winner in the Toy of the Year competition which grades on creativity, innovation, safety and sales potential. City Park Cafe was the specific winner. According to Lego, the brightly coloured cafe set is ”a hip hangout” and the coolest place to be in Heartlake City, home to two perky Lego girls, Andrea and Marie. The award was named at this week’s Toy Fair in Melbourne where industry specialists traipse through and lay their hands on many first-look prototype toys to see what’s hot. Australia’s toy industry was worth $2.6 billion last year, and has shown good growth for the past two years, after tougher times in 2008 and 2009.

– Here’s how Mamamia covered the new girl’s range of Lego when we first heard about it.

Time to teach mental health to kids

The Black Dog Institute, an organisation that deals with education and research surrounding depression and bipolar disorder, will roll out a $500,000 mental health program for Year 9 and 10 students in 800 schools around the nation. The ‘Headstrong’ classes will teach students about mental health issues including mood disorders, at-risk personality types, recognising symptoms, the benefits of therapy and how to build resilience. The Institute will train 1500 teachers to deliver the initiative over the next three years. “One in five Australians will experience a mood disorder in their lifetime and up to 75 per cent of mental health issues emerge during the turbulent adolescent years,” Institute executive director Professor Helen Christensen said. “This resource is designed to target the needs of young people, with the visual format of the materials making it accessible to students of all intellectual abilities, as well as those from a low literacy or non-English speaking background.”

MM Publisher Mia Freedman talked about this on the Today Show this morning:


IVF donor man fights to become ‘real’ dad

A millionaire businessman is fighting in the Family Court of Victoria to be recognised as the father of a child he helped produce when he donated sperm to a single woman to undergo IVF. Under Victorian law, sperm donors are not recognised as parents. Donors have to sign forms relinquishing any claim to fatherhood. The man is known to his child as a ‘family friend’ and visited regularly, but usually at the mother’s house. “We don’t accept as a matter of law that he is a parent,” her barrister Andrew Robinson said. “Just because he donated genetic material doesn’t make him a parent.” So, what’s the definition of parent then? What does biology account for?


Treasurer Wayne Swan slammed for ‘class warfare’ comments

Wayne Swan took us back to the days of the mining tax fight when he needled the country’s richest women and men over their ‘greed’, saying the ‘hyper rich’ put their interests ahead of the country’s own. “Wayne Swan, who relies on Australia’s army of small and large businessmen and women to create jobs and pay taxes and other government charges, has effectively kneed all such people in the groin,” former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said. “He seeks to destroy aspiration, keep Australia small. This is nothing short of class warfare. Swan clearly hates people who have money.” But Swan’s criticisms came as the Prime Minister reached out to top business CEOs in a bid to cut red tape in Government using their experience.

Gina Rinehart loses court suppression bid

Australia’s wealthiest woman, mining boss Gina Rinehart, has lost a NSW Supreme Court bid to suppress details of a case she is fighting with three of her own children. Ms Rinehart originally asked for the details to be suppressed because she was concerned for the safety of herself and her family. He legal team cited last minute details of a specific threat they say they were made aware of, originating in Dubai. As the Australian reported:

Gina Rinehart

A Perth based security specialist Adrian Francis gave an affidavit claiming he was approached by a man in a Dubai hotel, who allegedly told Mr Francis of Mrs Rinehart “you know that a lot of people here and in Saudi and maybe you hear that some people here are interested in her.”

“Let me say my friend that she is not safe and maybe you know the people that are protecting her. Maybe you should talk to them, maybe they need more training.”

However, Justice Michael Ball said the threat lacked credibility. The High Court will decide Friday whether an appeal can be heard.

– For more on the woman worth almost $20 billion, check our cheat sheet here for the fast facts.

Some workplaces becoming ‘pink ghettos’

Industries like Public Relations and Human Resources have found themselves on the other end of a gender imbalance says a Sydney report. That’s where the offices are dominated by women and gay men, with very few or even no straight male employees. Salt and Shein director Peter Salt said it could be an issue. “There is this topic of pink ghettos,” Mr Salt said. “What they’re talking about is gender diversity. There has long been a debate about board representation… this is the same but in reverse.”

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency director Helen Conway said companies that didn’t practise good “talent management” ended up with pools of women stagnating in support roles, and that ultimately the company itself would be worse off.

“Our view is that an all-female environment is bad, and an all-male environment is bad,” Ms Conway said. “You need balance. You need diversity to optimise performance.”