Govt responds to review into allegations of abuse in Defence
The Government’s response to the Report of the DLA Piper Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence (‘the Review’) has been announced by Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith.
The Review received allegations from over 1,000 people and identified a range of allegations from 775 people which fell within the Review’s Terms of Reference.
These involve allegations across every decade from the 1950s.
The Government’s response to the Review is guided by the Recommendations in the Review.
The response includes:
- A general apology to members of the Australian Defence Force or Defence employees who have suffered sexual or other forms of abuse in the course of their employment
- The establishment of an independent Taskforce to assess the individual complaints and any wider systemic issues to be headed by the Hon Len Roberts-Smith QC.
- access to a capped compensation scheme; and
- a free telephone hotline (already established) so that complainants can from today access information about the Government’s response (1800 424 991).
The independent Taskforce will have responsibility for liaising with those who have made allegations of abuse to determine an appropriate response in individual allegations.
The Taskforce will work with those who have made allegations to determine the best course of action based on their individual circumstances.
For people who have questions or information for the Taskforce, the telephone hotline number is: 1800 424 991 (free call). There is also a website: www.ag.gov.au/defenceabusetaskforce.
Broderick Review into the Treatment of Women in the ADF
The Minister also announced that Defence had accepted all 21 recommendations from the phase 2 report of the Broderick Review into the Treatment of Women in the ADF, six in principle and 15 in full.
Key measures to be implemented include:
- establishing a dedicated Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office to coordinate timely responses, victim support, education, policy, practice and reporting for any misconduct of a sexual nature, including sexual harassment and abuse;
- Implementing restricted reporting, so that personnel can make confidential reports of sexual harassment, sex discrimination and sexual abuse (which was also recommended by the DLA Piper Review);
- introducing of Waivers for Initial Minimum Provision of Service and Return of Service Obligations for victims of sexual assault/ harassment, so they can discharge from the ADF expeditiously and without financial penalty;
- Increasing diversity on promotion boards and selection for most senior positions;
- Introducing growth targets for recruiting women; and
- Producing an annual ‘Women in the ADF’ report to report on implementation of the Reviews’ recommendations and related initiatives.
The Defence senior leadership has signed a statement committing Defence to implementing the Review’s recommendations.
Following the government’s announcement, Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley said he would work with the ADF’s senior leadership to provide a fair, just and inclusive work environment.
“I repeat my previous personal undertaking to endeavour strenuously to defend the right of all members of the ADF to serve in an environment free from abusive behaviour of any kind,” General Hurley said.
"Defence remains committed to achieving deep cultural reform across the organisation. We will provide the appropriate resources and personnel to support the Government's announcement today."