Many young female cadets have been subjected to low-level sexual harassment, which is exacerbated by poor leadership and a dated defence culture, according to the sex discrimination commissioner.
The report into sexual harassment at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) which was led by Elizabeth Broderick, is the first since 1998, and made several recommendations to improve the treatment of female cadets at ADFA.
Among them was the fact that almost three in every four young women cadets say they have experienced some form of harassment while at the academy.
It was also revealed that 74.1 per cent of females reported an incident of "unacceptable" gender and sex-related harassment.
The types of behaviour that were listed as offences of this nature included whistling, sexist remarks, put-downs and unwanted advances.
Of the female cadets that participated in the survey, two per cent were forced to engage in sexual acts without consent and over four per cent said they received negative treatment after refusing intercourse.
Despite strict rules being put in place to protect young cadets and modernise the institution, the report notes that further measures may be needed in order to change what has traditionally been regarded as a male-dominated culture.
For example, a strong drinking culture and a tendency to engage in risky behaviour while under the influence of alcohol were also highlighted as serious issues that must be addressed, the report stated.
While handing down a list of recommendations that could improve the Defence Force, Ms Broderick said: "No doubt military culture is a very male-dominated culture and if you look at ADFA only 20 per cent of cadets are female."
The commissioner also made it clear that young people were not to blame when it comes to individual cases of harassment.
According to the report, reports of gender or sexual discrimination were not managed or addressed consistently.
''Our review found widespread, low-level sexual harassment; inadequate levels of supervision, particularly for first-year cadets; an equity and diversity environment marked by punishment rather than engagement; and cumbersome complaints processes," the Australian Human Rights Commission report stated.
However, despite criticisms of the Defence Force, the investigation into its treatment of women also found that most cadets held a positive view of the establishment.
In an interview with the ABC's Sabra Lane, Ms Broderick said the "majority of cadets and the majority of women had a very positive experience at the ADFA".
Neil James, executive director at the Australia Defence Association, echoed this statement, telling Australian Women Online that many cadets are unhappy about criticism of the academy in the mainstream media.
He said: "Female cadets at ADFA are very angry about all the inaccurate, sensationalist and biased commentary about the academy in the media and public debate generally."