Former Army Captain Kaiya Chen is suing the ADF over alleged sexual harassment.
Former Army Captain Kaiya Chen is suing the ADF over alleged sexual harassment.

Soldier put privates on Captain’s head in ‘clumsy’ move

A young Queensland army officer who claims a soldier put his genitals at the back of her head has taken the Australian Defence Force to court after their investigators ruled the alleged act as "clumsy" but not unacceptable.

Kaiya Chen, a former army Captain who was raised on the Gold Coast, alleges in a sexual and racial discrimination claim filed in the Federal Court this month that the soldier put his genitals at the back of her head while she was seated in a classroom at the Defence Force school of languages in October 2017.

She was the only female, and the only officer, in the class with nine men and alleges the soldier from the Brisbane-based 6th Royal Australian Regiment "placed his leg up onto the desk or chair" behind her while she was still seated.

She claims he did this after she joked during class about his "tendency to whinge".

Ms Chen, from Brisbane's northern suburbs, alleges in documents filed in court that following the Australian Defence Force Investigation Service's (ADFIS) probe into the alleged incident the Inspector General of the ADF added that "he only considered the action" of the soldier "to be clumsy but not unacceptable by defence standards".

Ms Chen says the ADFIS investigation into her complaint of sexual misconduct in relation to the genitals behind her head was ultimately dropped.

Former Army Captain Kaiya Chen
Former Army Captain Kaiya Chen

Ms Chen says at the time of the incident she told the soldier to "get off me", he sat down and apologised.

As well as lodging formal complaints with the ADF about sexual misconduct, Ms Chen also filed internal complaints with the ADF of racial hatred claiming that during classes to learn Pashto, the language of the Pashtun people of Afghanistan in Laverton, in Melbourne's southwest in 2017 a fellow soldier told her "he could not understand me due to my 'gookie language'".

She alleges that the same soldier who allegedly put his genitals at the back of her head commented during class: "There's so many Asians in the city - if I took my car off the road I would kill like 20 gooks".

The Inspector General of the ADF later found that the soldier's racist comments were "not intended" to be overhead by her, Ms Chen says in her complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission which was filed in the Federal Court.


Kaiya Chen is suing the ADF.
Kaiya Chen is suing the ADF.


The Inspector General also allegedly concluded that the comments by the soldiers were "a poor brand of humour" but could not be reasonably taken as offensive or racist.

They also concluded Ms Chen may have been subject to a different "regimental experience" than the men from 6RAR, she states in court documents.

Ms Chen states in court documents that she was released from the three-month long language course early and returned back to her then home unit in Wagga Wagga NSW.

Ms Chen filed a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in March last year.

After it was terminated by the AHRC in November, she launched self-represented action in the Federal Court in Brisbane.

Ms Chen has asked the Federal Court to order the ADF pay her compensation for the "hurt and distress" caused by the "harassment and victimisation" as well as order the ADF to apologise to her in writing.

Kaiya Chen
Kaiya Chen

"I am concerned that these behaviours were accepted at the highest level of the ADF, and believe that this has only encouraged the culture of misogyny and racism that is rife Among the organisation," Ms Chen states in her AHRC complaint filed in the Federal Court.

She states she feels betrayed and victimised by the ADF for "speaking up".

She states that her actions of escalating her complaint within the ADF "has made me a target for the ADF".

"I am fearful that my complaint against the ADF will only cause the organisation to retaliate and bring further unwarranted damage to my career," Ms Chen stated in her AHRC complaint.

Ms Chen enlisted in January 2014 and held the rank of Captain until she was discharged a few weeks ago, court documents state.

She worked in administration for an Army medical unit, as the operations officer for the 11th Close Health Company in Brisbane, most recently helping with the NSW and Victorian bushfire crisis.

No defence has been filed and no hearing date has been set.





Originally published as Soldier put privates on Captain's head in 'clumsy' move