Lieutenant General David Morrison AO

Australia's former Chief of Army, 2016 Australian of the Year

As Australia's Chief of Army and the leader of more than 30,000 men and women, General David Morrison faced many challenges in which he displayed the many talents of effective leadership.

During his 36-year career as a soldier David saw operational service in Bougainville and East Timor and as an Australian Army Officer led troops from platoon level all the way up to his final appointment as a three-star General - Chief of Army - a position he held for the last four years of his service until his retirement in May 2015.

On 26 January 2016, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull named David Morrison Australian of the Year 2016 in recognition of his commitment to gender equality, diversity and inclusion. In his acceptance speech David vowed to call for action in all these areas and also tackle the issue of domestic violence and unacceptable behaviour.

David is a noted public speaker and often addresses organisations such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Lowy Institute and the Sydney Institute. David has spoken to many leading corporate groups and boards. His audiences include the Deloitte Partners Annual meeting, the Aurizon senior leadership group, Goldman Sachs, the Australian annual Judicial Conference, the NSW Bar Association, the Property Group of Australia and the Harvard Business Association.

In his tenure at the top of Australia's Army, David has faced many leadership challenges but he is probably best known for his strong public stance on gender equality and leading cultural change in large organisations. His three-minute address, via video, to his workforce in the wake of a particular instance of poor behaviour by a group of officers and senior soldiers, was posted on YouTube and has had over 1.5 million views. Since his video message, the number of female recruits has risen by two percent.

He has spoken about diversity and culture to the United Nations International Women's Day Conference in New York, and was a closing speaker, with Angelina Jolie, William Hague and John Kerry at the Global Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence in Military Conflict in London in 2014.

But cultural change and gender equality are just two strings to the General's leadership experience. He has led a dynamic, energetic work force of over 30,000 men and women. He has had to address business resilience issues and handled the immediacy of decision-making required during periods of crisis management. He has commanded and controlled a force that suffers from the tyranny of distance and separation, and he has successfully juggled the interests of a multitude of stakeholders, many with vastly different ideologies. Vision too is a strong leadership tool and General Morrison has led change to meet the institutional and operational needs of his organisation many years into the future. Good leadership drives change to stay at the top of any business.

His loyalty to his profession and outstanding performance was recognised when he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2010.

The Australian Financial Review named David Morrison as one of Australia's leading influences on culture in 2014 and Boss Magazine included him in its top dozen leaders in Australia in the same year.

General David Morrison has the knowledge and experience to ask questions of individuals, SME's and large multinational companies ... are we the best we can be? He also has many of the answers.

The challenges David Morrison has faced during his long Army career have given him a deep understanding of the value of inclusion and respect. In September 2015, David was appointed chairman of the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) where he continues his passion and fight for diversity and inclusion in his post-military life.

General David Morrison talks about:

  • Gender equality
  • Diversity
  • Cultural change
  • Inclusion
  • Leadership