Changing the Culture at ADFA and Addressing the Problem of Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour by Increasing Resilience to Cope with Stress.
Change can be effected by the implementation of an evidence-based program for the increase of mental, physical and psychological health and well-being of young women cadets. It is proposed to teach young women cadets at ADFA this program to develop greater self-actualization and create a positive climate for learning and progress. Ideally, a percentage of the male cadets would also participate in the program, and this could happen, but this writer is principally responsible for teaching women.
• Reduction in Anxiety: Meta-analyses of over 100 studies have shown that Transcendental Meditation® (TM) is twice as effective in reducing anxiety as other relaxation and meditation techniques and three times more effective in building self-esteem and self-confidence. Journal of Clinical Psychology 45 1989 957-974, Anxiety, Stress and Coping: An International Journal 6 1993 245-262
• Reduction in Substance Abuse: A meta-analysis of 200 studies demonstrated that TM is more effective in reducing smoking, alcohol and drug abuse than standard drug rehabilitation programs and other self-development techniques. In addition, the effect lasts with TM. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11 1994 1-524
• Review of research of 33 modalities for increasing soldier resilience: a new study
ABSTRACT In order to identify potential training to enhance comprehensive soldier fitness, this analysis searched MEDLINE via PubMed and elsewhere for 33 reasonably significant modalities, screening over 11,500 articles for relevance regarding soldier resilience. Evaluation of modalities that are exclusively educational or cognitive/behavioural in nature is deferred. Using the volume and quality of research over 40 parameters distributed among the five domains of resilience (physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and family life), these data allow culling of most of the meditative modalities and discrimination among the remaining techniques. The resulting order of merit is Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation. Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation, in that order, have the most supporting data. Fortuitously, they also represent a cross section of the domain of techniques regarded as meditation, stress management, or relaxation, with three very different mechanisms of action. They are suitable potential options for improving soldier resilience.
Military Medicine, Vol 176, Nov 2011, pp 1232-1242
• “If TM were a pill, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster.” Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University,
This submission addresses the issue of sexual harassment and abuse of women under the Terms of Reference of the Review of Treatment of Women at ADFA, and includes reference in general to the issue of cultural change strategies at ADFA.
Phase 1 of the Review examined the problems ADFA seeks to address. Despite improvements in recent years, sexual harassment and abuse of women cadets take place in an environment in which cadets live, work, study and socialise – a very intense environment for young people often fresh out of high school and in their first employment.
While the review was set up in response to an extreme incident of sexual abuse, the 2011 ADFA Unacceptable Behaviour Survey established that despite significant improvements since the mid-1990s, there is still at ADFA a background of low-level sex-related harassment experienced by 74% of female cadets. At the extreme end of the spectrum, 2.1% of women reported being forced into sex without consent, and 6.9% reported being touched in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
Phase One of the Review presents a disturbing picture of harassment and abuse at a tertiary educational establishment training future officers for leadership positions, and points to the need for structural and cultural reform.
This submission proposes a simple, evidence-based program which could add to the strategies already recommended for effecting the desired cultural change at ADFA in order to create a safe environment for women training for leadership roles in the Defence Forces.
A Problem to be Fixed
Unless the cultural milieu of sexual abuse and denigration of women while in training is changed, it must follow that the same culture and behaviours will be carried into the professional environment of the Defence Forces. In the past week, ABC News (29/11/2011) reported on a senior ADF officer (Naval) being court martialled on 24 charges of committing acts of indecency against a female subordinate on board a major ship in the Australian Navy.
Sexual abuse of women in the military and the tendency of under-reporting noted in the first phase of the Review is a problem not only for Australia’s Defence Forces. There are many reports of sexual abuse of women in the US military, both in training establishments and on active service. A pending lawsuit in the US has been brought by 17 plaintiffs, 15 of whom are women, and filed against the former Defence Secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld, alleging rape and sexual assault by fellow soldiers, and that the Defence Department failed to investigate the crimes and failed to prosecute the perpetrators. (Navy Times – Nov 26th 2011)
The background to the problem of sexual harassment at ADFA
Women constitute a minority group, being about one-fifth of the ADFA cadet body.
There are inherent problems in that unequal ratio of men to women.
Phase One of the Review notes that the concepts of equity and diversity are “generally grounded in disciplinary and punitive processes as a response to unacceptable behaviour”, rather than providing a positive ethical framework. It emphasises the need for ADFA to develop strong statements of diversity and gender equality accompanied by unequivocal condemnation of all forms of sexism, sexual harassment and violence against women – in other words a complete change to the current negative cultural framework.
There are many exacerbating factors – the youth of the cadets, issues to do with their housing and supervision, their newness to a military setting, and staff inexperience in dealing with young people being some. But the factor that emerges as a major contributor in the incidence of harassment and sexual abuse of women is alcohol.
Alcohol consumption at ADFA
The review notes that cadets at ADFA have higher income than university students elsewhere, and access to low-priced alcohol. While it is commonly said that binge drinking and a drinking culture are part of the wider Australian society, especially for young people and students, the Review notes the link between alcohol misuse and risk taking and unacceptable behaviour, including sexual misconduct that is supported by numerous studies.
Staff and students alike commented on the link between alcohol and unacceptable behaviour towards women. Yet there is also the expectation expressed that as the cadets are training for leadership roles, a higher standard of behaviour is expected of them.
This contradictory set of circumstances: high expectations of the students but a social environment which makes excessive consumption of alcohol a given, and a very cheap one at that, must be an extra stressor for very young students.
Recommendations for change
The first Phase of the Review makes specific recommendations to improve the culture of ADFA. There are two recommendations for addressing the problem of excessive alcohol consumption at ADFA. Firstly that the prices be raised in the bar to make alcohol less easily accessible, and also that there be more testing.
These recommendations, while practical and necessary, do not address the issue of alcohol abuse at a deep level. But they certainly demonstrate the difficulty that policy makers have in addressing this very serious problem both at ADFA and in our society in general, the result being that perhaps the major contributor to the incidence of inappropriate and abusive sexual behaviour towards young women at ADFA is not sufficiently robustly dealt with. As very properly noted in the Phase One Review, the punitive and disciplinary responses to unacceptable behaviour are not sufficient.
This submission proposes that in order to effect real change in the alcohol related climate of reckless and risky and sometimes very damaging behaviour, there needs to be an intervention program for self development that gives the women students the opportunity to grow and change from within – a different approach to the measures proposing changes to the external rules and structures. Such a program would be complementary to the many recommendations already made and underway, and this combination could bring success to the whole endeavour to re-shape ADFA as a safe, progressive culture which encourages women to reach their full potential.
It takes a new seed to yield a new crop.
This submission proposes that ADFA incorporates the Transcendental Meditation® program as an integral part of its strategies for change in the culture of this educational institute. This program has been taught around the world for the past 50 years, with remarkable results.
The Transcendental Meditation program® is a simple, natural, effortless mental technique which is easily taught and is practised sitting comfortably with eyes closed for twenty minutes twice a day. It is not a religion, nor a philosophy, and nor does it involve any change in lifestyle. It is easy to learn and it is a simple, natural, effortless technique to practise. It gives deep rest to mind and body, and an enjoyable peaceful experience of inner silence.
The technique of TM is taught by properly trained and certified teachers in a standardised course. The course is taught over a four-day period, with follow-up meetings for the first six months, and a lifetime follow-up access to TM Centres world-wide. It is being used in many schools and colleges around the world now (eg 1 million students in Rio de Janeiro are soon to be instructed) because there is a proven profound effect in reducing student stress, improving the overall climate of the school, and producing higher academic achievement.
Changing the Culture
The following video is of the Principal of a California school with many problems, describing how the culture of his school was changed: http://youtu.be/8gK3yKIZJdM The Quiet Time/ Transcendental Meditation program was incorporated into the school day with remarkable results. Although this is a secondary school, not a tertiary institution, it demonstrates how change can be effected simply in an educational setting.
It is proposed that ADFA incorporating this intervention program along with the other specific recommendations already made in the first Phase of the Review, could see a major shift in the culture of the institution.
How would this work?
Transcendental Meditation (also known as TM) has been demonstrated in over 600 scientific studies over the past 40 years published in peer-reviewed journals to be a remarkably effective program for reducing stress and anxiety, increasing intelligence and creativity, reducing substance abuse (including alcohol) and improving health and well-being.
Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, Researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health (USA),
and author of the newly released best-selling book “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation” has said “If TM were a pill, it would be a billion-dollar blockbuster.”
Published research on the TM program in educational settings has shown a wide range of practical benefits for both students and teachers. Benefits for students include decreased stress and stress-related disorders, reduced substance abuse, increased intelligence, increased learning ability, improved memory, improved academic performance, and improved standardized test scores. Benefits for teachers include decreased stress and stress-related disorders, decreased anxiety, reduced substance abuse, increased creativity, improved job satisfaction, improved interpersonal relationships, and reduced health care utilization and costs.
See: www.DavidLynchFoundation.org for other educational programs and especially programs for war veterans dealing with PTSD.
If this is properly assessed as a program for managing stress in the young and increasing positive outcomes in health and social behaviour it will be found to be a very useful addition to the educational and support initiatives already recommended by the Human Rights Commission Review.
How TM fits in a military setting
A recent assessment study published in the journal Military Medicine (Vol 176, Number 11, November 2011 – pp 1232-1242) evaluated different modalities for enhancing soldier resilience, which is defined as comprising physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and family life.
Overview of Outcome Data of Potential Meditation Training for Soldier Resilience
Author: Col. Brian Rees
ABSTRACT In order to identify potential training to enhance comprehensive soldier fitness, this analysis searched MEDLINE via PubMed and elsewhere for 33 reasonably significant modalities, screening over 11,500 articles for relevance regarding soldier resilience. Evaluation of modalities that are exclusively educational or cognitive/behavioural in nature is deferred. Using the volume and quality of research over 40 parameters distributed among the five domains of resilience (physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and family life), these data allow culling of most of the meditative modalities and discrimination among the remaining techniques. The resulting order of merit is Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation. Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation, in that order, have the most supporting data. Fortuitously, they also represent a cross section of the domain of techniques
regarded as meditation, stress management, or relaxation, with three very different mechanisms of action. They are suitable potential options for improving soldier resilience
See the full study at this link:
Adding to the Recommendations.
It would be simple to implement the program at ADFA. Trained TM teachers would present an overview of the benefits in an Introductory talk. Students would be given the opportunity to learn if they wished, by appointment made at a second talk followed by a personal interview with a teacher. Instruction is in a standardised course, with one-on-one initial instruction in the technique, then subsequent meetings held in a group. This is a valuable way to validate the experience and strengthen the understanding of the students. Individual and group follow-up sessions are arranged over the subsequent weeks and months.
Once instructed in the technique, students meditate twice a day for 15-20 minutes. It is an added benefit to have sessions of group meditation – either formally in a class, or informally in residential setting. ADFA instructors could be trained in how to lead group meditation sessions.
The TM Program is taught by trained teachers, through a non-profit organisation. The writer of this submission teaches through that part of the organisation which is especially structured to teach women, and provide mentoring and follow-up as indicated. See www.meditationforwomen.org.au
There are special group rates for the course fee, which is usually based on a per person fee which covers all follow-up sessions. This could be discussed in detail at a later time. The TM program is a once-only investment in the health and well being of the person who learns. It is a technique for life, with cumulative benefits over a lifetime of practise.
Submitted by: Catherine Knoles, Teacher of Transcendental Meditation.