JUSTICE FOR ALL
Burchett finds no culture of violence exists
August 30, 2001
AN AUDIT of the military justice system has found no evidence of a culture
of violence in the ADF.
Retired Federal Court justice James Burchett said in his report that,
while bastardisation practices have existed at some military institutions
in the past, there was a general view across the ADF that these practices
were inconsistent with the ethos of today's Defence Force.
"Whatever may have been the case with such practices in the past, they
have not been followed in the great body of the Defence Force for a number
of years," he said.
In regard to the allegations of violence within 3RAR, he said there was
no evidence to show a state of affairs involving the prevalence of assaults
so as to amount to a culture or a general practice.
CA Lt-Gen Peter Cosgrove welcomed the findings.
"The Burchett Review reinforces what I've always believed - that there
is not a culture in the Army of widespread or systemic avoidance of due
disciplinary processes or the use of violence to maintain discipline,"
"In particular, I am pleased that 3 RAR, a unit with a proud history,
has been cleared by the Burchett Review, which also found that there was
no culture of rough justice in the battalion.
"The Army continues to have an important, indeed vital, role in serving
the nation. The Army is a disciplined organisation of which Australians
should be justifiably proud.
"Let's acknowledge the Burchett Review as an important demonstration to
the Government and the wider community that we are a disciplined force,
and get on with that work."
In his introduction to the report, Mr Burchett said the setting up of
the inquiry demonstrates the depth of determination to expose the full
extent of any failure in the ADF to follow the course of law.
Recommendations include legal training courses in disciplinary law for
all personnel, the appointment of a Discipline Officer in all units, establishment
of training charges and the establishment of an independent ADF Director
of Military Prosecutions and a Military Inspector-General.
He also recommended reviews of the nature of DFDA punishments against
contemporary standards, provision of legal assistance to members and the
level of resources available for ADF police investigative work.
Terms of reference of the inquiry included determining any evidence of
a culture of avoiding due disciplinary processes, irregularities in the
administration of military justice and the management of allegations arising
in connection with 3RAR.
Irregularities could include illegal punishments, unfair treatments of
complainants, direction to members to plead guilty to a charge or members
serving sentences in excess of punishment awarded by service tribunals.
CDF Adm Chris Barrie said the report confirmed the ADF had a pretty good
system of military justice that had served well in the vast majority of
"I have examined all the recommendations closely and it is my intention
that we will implement all the recommendations as soon as possible," he
The report's recommendations include:
- Appointment of a Military Inspector-General
- Establishment of an ADF Director of Military Prosecutions
- Appointment of a Discipline Officer in all units
- Consider establishment of regional DFDA units
- Review level of resources available for ADF police investigative
- Review number of legal officers, their location and organisation
- Establishment of a training charge
- Examine feasibility of securing a "readiness" undertaking from
Reserve legal officers
- Review the nature of DFDA punishments in light of contemporary
- Clarify the nature, purpose and sphere of "extras"
- Introduce annual awareness training in military justice issues