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A Century of Sex and the Australian Military, 1914-2020

This project aims to uncover the history of sexual cultures in the Australian armed forces, and how military authorities have (and have not) regulated service members’ sexual behaviour and relationships.

The Australian Defence Force continues to confront a culture where embedded attitudes towards sex, sexuality and gender influence members’ behaviour and performance. Through uncovering policy, health and disciplinary files, as well as medical literature, civilian police, newspaper and court records, the project intends to analyse how the Australian military evolved its approach to members’ sexual and intimate relations, and the consequences military life had for individuals’ sexual and romantic partnerships.

Producing new knowledge about the long history of sex cultures within the military, and about strategies that have shaped sexual and intimate relationships, will have social and cultural benefits in developing effective policies that support culture change.

The project also aims to analyse the relationships between veterans’ sexual and mental health, the influence of military medicine on sexual health, and what is revealed about sexual cultures by active and returned service members’ interactions with the law (especially prosecutions for sexual assault and intimate partner violence). Such research will potentially benefit the formulation of policies and programs to support service members’ and veterans’ healthcare provision and social inclusion.

Professor Noah Riseman (ACU), Dr Tristan Moss (UNSW Canberra), Dr Elizabeth Roberts-Pedersen (Newcastle) and Dr Alana Piper (UTS).

Research being undertaken thanks to the Australian Research Council | $264,435

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