Defence has moved to ban topless barmaids from a government recreation club as photos emerged of elite special forces soldiers fraternising with semi-naked women.
The ban was revealed after a row erupted between senior officers and the mother of a bisexual combat veteran who is under investigation for a matter she says is related to his sexuality.
The soldier's mother unearthed the photos of topless barmaids being used at the Gratwick Club or “Grattos”, which is used by troopers from the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in Western Australia.
She accused Defence of showing double standards in relation to her son being investigated while topless barmaids were allowed in the club, which adjoins the SAS's compound at Swanbourne in Perth.
Defence confirmed to Fairfax Media it was aware of an incident involving the semi-naked barmaids and that such behaviour did “not represent the values and ethos of the Australian Defence Force”.
A spokesperson said that, when the chain of command was made aware that a function had occurred that involved partially dressed women, further activities of this nature were banned.
Defence did not say whether the ban was implemented as a result of the mother's complaint, nor when it came into force.
The ADF was recently the subject of a series of inquiries in relation to sexual, physical and mental abuse following revelations of a major sex scandal at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra involving a video of a female cadet having sex being broadcast to a group of male cadets.
In 2013, army chief David Morrison issued a stern warning to personnel after dozens of soldiers were linked to the distribution of emails denigrating women.
"I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values," General Morrison famously said.
The photos, titled “skimpis”, showed a topless tattooed woman behind the bar, another hugging a soldier and a topless woman giving a victory sign with uniformed soldiers in the background at tables.
The mother claimed her son was being investigated over false allegations relating to his purchase of an alleged illegal medicine, which had come aboutafter senior officers and other soldiers became aware that he was bisexual about Anzac Day this year.
“The actual allegations [about the medicine] themselves have come from a person who had issues with my son's sexuality,'' she said.
“He [my son] is being discriminated against because of his sexuality, about which he was open, by the same management that condones women being exploited in the manner of those photographs,'' said the woman.
“He does not feel safe that the sort of people who condone that behaviour [the semi-nude barmaids] are now determining his future.’’
Defence was unwilling to comment on the specific circumstances regarding the investigation into the soldier.
The federal government's ABN search website lists the Gratwick Club as being a "Commonwealth Government entity".
A source told Fairfax Media the photos had been taken last year and the naked women were likely to be connected to the Perth-based Allure Entertainment agency, which badges itself as “WA’s Platinum Exotic Entertainment”.
But Monique who runs Allure said she did not wish to comment on the photos and that “Allure had not heard from any of those people [soldiers] for years”.
“All the companies, all agencies supply girls to several different things, not just for the Gratto,’’ she said.
Correction: An earlier version wrongly described the bisexual combat veteran as a former special forces soldier.