In accepting the Australian of the Year award from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House, David acknowledges he has big shoes to fill following Rosie, a tireless campaigner against domestic violence.
But he plans to build on the high “benchmark” she’s set and also pledges to help close the gender pay gap.
““I can’t explain why there is a gender pay gap,” says David.
“In this country, between men and women, across all professions of 17.8 per cent and worse in many of the professions that we are all proud to be part of.
“That needs to end.”
The no-nonsense general is looking forward to using his platform to finally change the make-up of workplaces around Australia.
“The rules that we live by have largely been written by white Anglo-Saxon men,” David tells AAP.
“And the beneficiaries are, surprise surprise, white Anglo-Saxon men.”
The Canberra resident retired as the army chief in May 2015 and took up his role as chair of the Diversity Council Australia, which advises business on diversity in the workplace.
“We need to be careful about the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves because that largely defines our culture,” he says.
“If those stories are exclusive rather than inclusive, if they deny people opportunity on the basis of gender or the colour of their skin, then we as a society can’t reach our potential.”
The tough-as-teak army boss shot to fame in 2013 with an electrifying video message, ordering soldiers who could not commit to respecting women to “get out”.
The clip below has been viewed on YouTube more than 1.6 million times and turned David into an unlikely feminist hero.
The following year David was invited to speak at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, sharing the stage with US Secretary of State John Kerry and actor and activist Angelina Jolie.