Australia ignored the United States-led Five Eyes meeting on UFOs, despite the US labelling the issue a "national security threat", and senior Australian Defence personnel have been caught mocking the subject while preparing briefing notes, freedom of information documents have revealed.
Australia's approach to Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) - the contemporary term for UFOs - is completely out of step with its closest military ally, leading to calls for the federal government and Australian Defence Force to review its UAP policy, which was officially cancelled a decade ago.
The US government has also held multiple Congressional hearings and commissioned several reports, while the Pentagon has created a new division dedicated to researching UAPs, all without making judgements on whether they are extra-terrestrial, the advanced technology of another nation or something else.
However, there are no plans within the Australian Defence Force to follow its closest ally or implement reporting mechanisms for pilots, despite FOI documents showing the Chief of Air Force has been briefed on US policy change.
"While I understand foreign governments have released documentation regarding UAP, this is a matter for their governments as sovereign entities and will not impact Australia's decisions on this matter," Acting Head of Air Force Capability, Air Commodore Ben Sleeman wrote.
The documents also reveal Australia did not attend the Five Eyes forum on UAPs in May this year, to discuss how to better collaborate with the data they collect on the phenomenon.
The US-led intelligence alliance consists of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The Canadian and New Zealand governments confirmed they had defence personnel attended the UAP forum.
The Royal Australian Air Force stopped collecting reports of UAPs in 1996 "after determining there was no scientific or other compelling reason to continue to devote resources to the recording and investigation of UAP".
RAAF says there are still pathways for personnel to report "unusual or unexpected events ... including those potentially posed by UAPs" through the RAAF Aviation Safety Reporting procedures.
However, defence personnel are fearful of ridicule and there have been no recorded RAAF reports in 20 years.
The concern appears to be well-placed. FOI documents show while the world's most advanced military is taking UAPs seriously, the ADF is still joking about it.
"You're right, it may trigger more UFO-flavoured interest. The truth is out there, I'll just need to determine if interest in this sci-fi is a [Head of Air Force Capability] or [Defence Space Commander] lead," a heavily redacted email between Defence staff stated.
Ross Coulthart is an Australian journalist and one of the world's leading UAP investigators. Almost every week, he gets a call from Australian defence pilots who have seen something they can't explain, yet don't feel comfortable reporting through official channels or to their superiors.
"It's not that somebody's telling them not to report it, it's purely and simply that there's a residual stigma in both civilian and military aviation that if you report this stuff it could jeopardise your career," Mr Coulthart said.
"Most of the concern is it's a piss-take. Everybody laughs at UFOs because everybody automatically associates it with little green men and the things that have been ridiculed and mocked for the last 70 years.
"The weird thing about it is that's not what anybody's talking about. All people are saying is that there is a phenomenon that is a real mystery."
Many of Australia's closest allies have acknowledged the unknown aerial phenomenon, including the UK, Canada, France and Spain.
"Australia is quite anomalous in the sense that it's basically not taking the subject seriously," Mr Coulthart said.
"We've got this weird cognitive dissonance between what the Pentagon and other nations officially acknowledge ... they regard this as an extremely real phenomenon and they're puzzled as to why Australia isn't engaging more.
"They're ignoring the fact that there's an abundance of new evidence that's come to light in the last four years, which shows that this is not something to be ridiculed."
Grant Lavac, an Australian civilian UAP researcher, has submitted an e-petition with 750 signatures to the Albanese government, calling on it to review its Unusual Aerial Sightings Policy, was last reviewed in 2003 and cancelled in 2013.
While the US has recognised the matter as a national security issue and flight safety risk, Mr Lavac said Australia "was not even prepared to acknowledge the topic, let alone investigate it".
"Unfortunately, Australia is where the United States was about five or 10 years ago," he said.
"Those emails clearly indicate that folks in positions of leadership within RAAF are just taking the piss out of the issue. They're not taking it seriously, they're treating it like science fiction and making jokes about it.
"Walls of stigma and ridicule have long plagued this topic. The US is treating this as a national security threat and a flight safety risk, but those concerns are completely being downplayed in Australia."
Mr Lavac's petition also calls for sensible "see something, say something" reporting mechanisms for ADF personnel.
"They need to be confident they can report something they can't readily identify and not feel like they're going to be ostracised or ridiculed for coming forward," he said.
The e-petition is with the government and the minister is required to respond. The FOI documents show Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles have not been briefed by Defence on UAPs.
Mr Coulthart said the Australian government still held a "residual stigma attitude" towards the phenomenon.
"None of us are saying it's aliens ... the simple fact is we just acknowledged there is a phenomenon that cannot be explained. That's the official position of the United States government," Mr Coulthart said.
"[The US] acknowledged that it's a threat to flight safety because there's been near-collisions with these objects, whatever they are. So bearing that in mind, it's irresponsible for Australia to not at least attempt to collect data."
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