Ritual Abuse and Organisational Accountability in Australian Fire Services

Dr Tamika Perrott1
1Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

This paper contributes to contemporary debates on institutional abuse, gender relations and organisational accountability in male-dominated workplaces. Drawing on a critical analysis of institutional cultures and organisational response across metropolitan and country fire services in Australia, this paper explores the utility of ‘accountability’ as a practice. It details how Australian fire services respond to institutional abuses and sexual violence and identifies some of the key independent reviews that have occurred over the past decade. The silencing of victims accounts, the normalisation of violence and the inaction of these services to recognise and respond to sexual harassment and ritual abuse captures the difficulties of mobilising against institutional abuse in highly male-dominated workplaces. The analysis suggests that the systemic misogyny rooted in many of these ‘abuse rituals’ may also undermine future attempt to enact cultural change.


Dr. Tamika Perrott is a Research Assistant at Flinders University, investigating institutional abuse within the Australian Defence Force (ADF). With a background in studies of organisational sociology and psychology, her research focuses on human behaviour and group dynamics in workplace settings. Her PhD research explored workplace diversity, occupational identity and organisational reform in male-dominated workplaces, looking specifically at emergency first responder occupations.


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