The sailors in question apparently recorded their bets in a notebook called The Ledger. Participants received more money if they had sex with an officer or a lesbian, and they encouraged each other to have sex in odd places, like atop a pool table. The Sydney Morning Herald creepily reports that the Australian Navy tries to keep such behavior under control with "health checks," and that it was after such a health check that the betting was discovered. This makes it sound like the Navy is testing women for signs of sexual activity (relationships on board ship are prohibited), but another article clarifies that women actually raised verbal concerns during their health check.
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says,
We don't want to see anything that precludes women from having a good career in our armed forces if that is what they choose to do with their lives. Clearly these allegations need to be fully investigated. In the first instance we need our defence hierarchy to get on with the job of investigating these claims and taking appropriate action.
Others, however, seem less concerned. Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick says that in the Navy, "like (in) any organisation, there are pockets of non-ideal behaviour." Neil James, Executive Director of the Australian Defence Association, an independent watchdog group, calls The Ledger "aberrant." He says, "the real question, I suppose, is if it's different to what happens in any Australian factory or office, or trade union hall or university residence or football club." He adds that "a disproportionate number of people in the defence force are between 18-25, what you and I might describe as the courting peak," and that attitudes toward women in the Australian navy are totally fine. "You and I" might say that "courting" is different than engaging in demeaning on-the-job sex bets, that the existence of The Ledger indicates that attitudes are not fine, and that "the real question" is not "does this happen elsewhere?" but "how can the Australian Navy stop it?" However, we'd be forgetting that wherever there's sexual harassment, there's pretty much always someone saying it's not a real problem.
Navy Fears Further Sex Scandal Details [News.com.au]
Navy's Secret Shame [Sydney Morning Herald]
Navy Defended Over Sex Claims [The Australian]
Let Defence Investigate Navy Sex Game: Gillard [Sydney Morning Herald]