Daily Life Woman of the Year 2013 is Kate

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'Kate' wins Daily Life's woman of the year

ADFA's faceless Skype scandal victim known only as 'Kate' wins Daily Life's woman of the year.

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The woman at the centre of one of the military’s most damning sex scandals has been named Daily Life’s Woman of the Year.

Known only as ‘‘Kate’’, the 20-year-old from northern NSW was voted by the public and a panel of judges at the Fairfax Media-owned website as the Australian woman who had advocated for and instigated the most positive change this year.

The victim of the Australian Defence Force Academy Skype scandal said her fight had been for all of those who had ‘‘suffered silently and unfairly’’.

‘‘I’m doing it for them. I’m doing it for any female who’s ever lost their career because of sexual assault within the Defence Force,’’ Kate said. ‘‘I’ve taken strength from what’s happened to you. That’s what makes it worthwhile and that’s what gives me the strength to keep going every day.’’

She took the top honour ahead of Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and  Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly and follows in the footsteps of last year’s inaugural winner, former prime minister Julia Gillard.

Daily Life editor Sarah Oakes said: ‘‘What’s so interesting about Kate winning is that she was able to achieve all this without any public profile. Her actions have spoken loudly enough.’’

When, in April 2011, Kate approached the media with the claim that a live video of her having sex with a fellow cadet had been broadcast to a group of male cadets, she had no idea of its reverberations.

‘‘At the time it was just about going ‘This has happened to me and it’s not OK,’’’ Kate said. ‘‘It wasn’t until three or four days later when other people started coming forward with their stories that I went ‘Hang on a second, this is a lot bigger than just me, this isn’t about me any more.’’’

And so the ball began rolling for the air force recruit, revealing the  extent of the  cultural problems within the Defence Force.

Kate said she hoped her ordeal paved the way for women in the armed forces to be treated with respect  and led to a cultural shift.

But, despite her efforts and those of former defence minister Stephen Smith – for whom she has ‘‘nothing but admiration’’ – that change may take years to come about.

A review by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner on women serving in the Defence Force recommended increasing gender targets and punishing leaders who fail to crack down on abuse and sexual harassment. Ms Broderick’s recommendations, released in August last year,  are yet to be implemented.

‘‘As Defence culture stands at the moment, I think we still have a really long way to go before I would feel confident in being able to say, ‘Yes, it’s a good career choice for females,’’’ Kate said, drawing attention to scandal after scandal involving sex and the military.

She said her family rallied round her during her lowest moments and that the unexpected letters and messages of support she received via the Human Rights Commission, her legal team and the media had been a source of motivation.

‘‘In the beginning and for a long time, I didn’t feel I had the support within Defence. When that’s all you see, this negativity towards you and this hostility towards you, it’s hard to think you do have support from others,’’ she said.

‘‘The past three years have been a really massive emotional rollercoaster and it has been at a great personal cost. What I have done has brought about change and Iwill leave a legacy and that’s a really good feeling.’’

This week she is expected to file her legal case for compensation against the Defence Department, seeking resources to establish a new career. She will be discharged from the military on health grounds in March and plans a new life as a teacher.

‘‘The compensation’s about keeping the issues in the public arena so that Defence don’t think that it’ll just go away, because it’s not going away,’’ she said. ‘‘I will keep fighting for as long as it takes.’’

 

18 comments

  • A great list. Still not enough female middle managers or politicians but it's getting better.

    Commenter
    Brad
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 16, 2013, 8:00AM
    • Congratulations "Kate". It takes a strong person to survive what was thrown at you over the past three years. I wish you all the best for your future.

      Commenter
      Thomas Gale
      Date and time
      December 16, 2013, 8:23AM
      • Yes, congratulations. There is no doubt that she is a deserving winner.

        Commenter
        Nick
        Date and time
        December 16, 2013, 9:36AM
    • Good on you kate, stand up for yourself.

      I would have preferred a woman to win the award who tells gays and lesbians she won't accept their push for gay marriage and the subsequent state indoctrination that will entail when teachers are forced to teach such in schools but hey, one step at a time I suppose.

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Finley
      Date and time
      December 16, 2013, 9:36AM
      • And i'd prefer it if secular governments stepped away from enforcing religious definitions of marriage, issued civil union agreements to everyone for legal purposes only (regardless of gender of the participants), and left it up to the rest of us to decide for ourselves what kind of marriage ceremony we wanted.

        But none of that is particularly relevant to the topic under discussion.

        Commenter
        DM
        Date and time
        December 16, 2013, 10:53AM
    • Thank you Kate for advocating for the rights of women and challenging this culture of male privilege, entitlement and violence. A most deserving accolade.

      Commenter
      Kate
      Date and time
      December 16, 2013, 9:46AM
      • Is this the same Kate that breached the rules of the organisation she joined and swore an oath to serve? An oath to protect her and our country?

        I don't condone the behaviour of the those involved in the criminal activity that took place here.

        Nor do I condone the activity of Kate in breaking the military rules by fraternising with her military colleagues.

        This serious breach is not something that should be forgotten or put aside to allow for an award.

        Woman of the year? I think not. Surely there are more deserving winners of your made up award.

        Commenter
        Phil
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        December 16, 2013, 9:51AM
        • Phil, "Women of the Year" don't need to be perfect. They are not selected because they are saints. They are judged according to how their own actions have helped to make the world a more equitable place for other women. We need more Kates in the world - especially as an antidote against people who seem to think it's okay to shame women for having sex while wholly whitewashing the male parties' role in it.

          Commenter
          Cam
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          December 16, 2013, 11:14AM
        • This is lucky Phil - lucky cause he's hiding behind a screen and not communicating his rubbish face-to-face.

          Commenter
          Good choice
          Location
          Geelong
          Date and time
          December 16, 2013, 12:23PM
        • Phil
          You hit the nail on the head.
          Cam, how is summary dismissal after a court martial "whitewashing the male parties' role"?

          Commenter
          What
          Location
          The?
          Date and time
          December 16, 2013, 12:32PM

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