A LANDMARK review on women serving in the Australian Defence Force has recommended increasing gender targets and punishing leaders who fail to crack down on abuse and sexual harassment.
The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, issued the second part of her review of women serving in the ADF, which made 21 recommendations, with each winning the immediate ''broad'' support of the government and Defence heads.
Ms Broderick said she was ''not confident'' women serving in the ADF ''can and will flourish'' in their careers and called for the number of women serving in the military to be increased.
Women make up 46 per cent of the Australian workforce but only 18.4 per cent of the navy, 10.1 per cent of the army and 17 per cent of the air force.
''If we want the most operationally effective performing defence force in this country then we need to recognise that the talent exists in both men and women,'' she said. ''Modern warfare is changing. The idea that it's all about physical and manual strength is just no longer the case.
''So I do absolutely think that there will be a day when women will flourish like men in all parts of the ADF. Are we there today? The answer would have to be no.''
The Defence chief, General David Hurley, ''broadly accepted'' Ms Broderick's findings and the Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, accepted the recommendations in principle.
''This is, in my view, a deeply significant report about the ADF and about the future of the ADF and about the ADF being a modern defence force,'' Mr Smith said. ''This is now the prism through which we will look at the treatment and role of women in the ADF in the future.''
The review found sexual harassment and abuse existed in all areas of the ADF, with members often deciding not to report incidents because of fears of victimisation. A dedicated Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office to co-ordinate quick responses and victim support should be established, with ADF members allowed to make confidential reports of sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse, Ms Broderick said.
A survey of ADF members found rates of sexual harassment against women were comparable to the general community at about 25 per cent - figures that were ''too high for any workplace''.
Military leaders who failed to discipline sexual offenders should themselves be subject to discipline, Ms Broderick said.
The opposition spokesman on defence, David Johnston, offered bipartisan support for the proposal to increase the number of women in military ranks.
The review included interviews, consultations and discussions with more than 2000 serving and former ADF members. A survey was also undertaken by more than 6000 ADF members.
In April last year, Mr Smith commissioned six inquiries into the culture of Defence. It followed a sex scandal at the Australian Defence Force Academy in which footage of a female cadet having consensual sex with a male cadet was streamed on the internet without her knowledge.
Ms Broderick's first report, released in November, found that three-quarters of women at the ADFA had experienced sexual harassment.