Diggers’ ‘piss and poop’ tracking humiliation
Australian armed soldiers have been ordered to stand guard on colleagues while they use the toilet, then inspect the bowl and record explicit details of them relieving themselves.
The bizarre operation involved junior soldiers on periodic rotations and was a "blatant attempt to strip the men and women of their dignity and belittle them", angry soldiers claim.
The "Duty Troop" was briefed by a sergeant, and the data recorded in a classified "Piss and Poop Tracker". So humiliated were the troops from the Army's 1st Armoured Unit "B Squadron", located in Edinburgh, South Australia, they launched a united protest - the soldiers began "taking the piss out of the task" by logging fake entries.
The Sunday Telegraph has obtained the 22-page Department of Defence "Poo/Wee" Operator's Log that has entries including: "Cpl pood loud" and "Trooper urinated. Seemed nervous hid from view".
Other entries, dated and time-stamped read "Good stream, missed the bowl" and "defecated in cubicle 6. The sounds that emitted were terrifying to say the least" and "warriors don't leave skid marks".
Entries became more creative as they went on: "Tpr enters cubicle 6 after taking a long time to choose. Hear metal clanging a lot, suspect undoing his chastity belt. Excellent hygiene, handwashed and sanitised."
The restricted document is a converted Radio Operator's Log which contains clear instructions for its purpose, including that it becomes "restricted" upon first entry.
One Digger raised concerns about the practice and the book's existence, and the Commanding Officer ordered the destruction of the book. Subsequently the log was smuggled off the base in a desperate bid to shine the light on what soldiers say is a culture of bullying and bastardisation.
Veteran representatives John and Vera Simmons, of the Jesse Bird Welfare Centre, who have worked with the host of Wally's Chin-wag, a veterans support page on Facebook, to assist soldiers located at Edinburgh, say while the entries looked like the soldiers were treating the task as a joke, it was their way of sticking together in protest at such a ludicrous task.
"If they were coming to be punished for insubordination it was going to be one in, all in," Mr Simmons, a former soldier said.
These troops are not the only ones desperately seeking attention about the "systemic failings of the defence force".
Mr Simmons said he had clients from all branches of the services in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and abroad at the Australian base in Malaysia, all with reports of abuse and bullying.
"This is certainly not an isolated incident; it goes back 20 or 30 years with the toxic cultures, but now finessed by current leadership groups - it's horrible," he said.
Mr Simmons is banned from physically attending Edinburgh to help members, due to complaints by commanding officers that he said were vexatious.
"This log book exercise was designed to turn Diggers against each other," Mr Simmons said.
"When you have systemic problems of core mental health and then you're doing this to Diggers like this it's a sure-fire way to cause a lot of issues."
Mr Simmons has obtained a number of statements from troops from both 7RAR and One Armoured, sighted by The Sunday Telegraph, which include allegations of bullying, bastardisation, physical assaults and a lack of mental health support.
He called on Senator Jacqui Lambie to see the problems first-hand.
She met with soldiers at a function hosted by the Jesse Bird Welfare Centre several weeks ago - the same day a soldier from One Armoured attempted suicide.
Sen Lambie told the Sunday Telegraph she was horrified to see the log book, and slammed the defence hierarchy for allowing soldiers to be treated like animals.
"These are the log books, they are restricted, you use when you're out in a war zone … they are making these guys picket the toilets," she said.
"Seriously, has the military not got anything better to do? What an embarrassment this is for the hierarchy. Making their men picket outside the toilet on base.
"It's demoralising, that's why they are doing it.
"There's no other reason you would make men do this but to demoralise them."
The ADF has been contacted for comment.
FAMILIES ASK ADF TO ACT ON SUICIDES
Soldiers and their families are calling on the Australian Defence Force to "do better" at supporting troubled troops after 10 suicides in three weeks.
Kylie Phillips, whose husband Robert died on November 1, said there was a stigma around members not wanting to speak up for fear it could cost them their job.
"Due to speaking up you could possibly get medically downgraded, and your pay may decrease as you're on lighter duties … you may be deemed unfit to stay in your current role or you may be medically discharged as the worst outcome," she said.
"All of this can be highly damaging to the defence member. All for speaking up and trying to seek help.
"Then if they are discharged, what help and support is there to assist in their integration back into civic life?"
Robert, a Leading Aircraftman who was based in Ipswich, Queensland, died on November 1 at the age of 33 and leaves behind two children, Danny, 10, and Isla, seven.
Five defence personnel from Queensland and one from NSW were among the 10 to take their own lives recently.
A serving soldier, who asked not to be named, said there were many factors that would contribute to soldiers committing suicide, but a significant factor was that the ADF's internal systems and policies required an overhaul.
"Anyone needing real care can tell when the response is not sincere and the mental health support may be robust but it's not individualised and it doesn't extend outside of your treating clinicians or programs," he said.
"Soldiers are afraid to ask for help in the ADF. Why? Because if they get diagnosed with a mental health injury, they will either lose their security clearance, and in turn lose their position at their unit, or worst case, they will be medically discharged and lose their career," he said.
"I know personally that this has happened. Soldiers ask for help, they then end up losing their identity, being a soldier, and are jobless.
"All of this while the ADF promotes mental health awareness."
The soldier with 15 years' service is an administrator of Pineapple Express, a Facebook page that advocates for veterans mental health programs.
"It's our opinion that there is a 'harden up' or 'shut up when spoken to' mentality that is instilled in the minds of impressionable trainees that would inevitably flow onto their careers," the soldier said.
Originally published as Diggers' 'piss and poop' tracking humiliation