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Annual Report 2013-14

Feature articles

Supporting the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce

Defence has responded to 1,543 requests answering a total of 9,606 questions throughout 2013–14 as part of its ongoing support to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (the Taskforce).

The information requested by the Taskforce has varied from the simple to complex, with supporting documentation dating as far back as the 1950s.  

To enable Defence to effectively search and identify records that may be of relevance to the Taskforce, we have also completed a project to digitise and catalogue Australian Defence Force Investigative Service records.

Defence collaborates with the Taskforce to deliver the Taskforce Restorative Engagement Program, which enables individual complainants to participate in facilitated restorative conferences with senior Defence representatives. Through this program, complainants have the opportunity to have their complaint and experiences of abuse personally heard, acknowledged and, where appropriate, responded to by a representative of Defence.

The participation by Defence representatives in the program is an important step in demonstrating, through action, Defence’s senior leadership’s commitment to acknowledging the shameful treatment and experiences of some members of the Australian Defence Force and Defence. The process enables Defence to learn invaluable lessons from the past, which is especially important in ensure that a fair, just and inclusive workplace, free from abusive behaviour, is available to all who chose to serve our country.

While the activities of the Taskforce are independent of Defence, funding is provided from the Defence portfolio, which in 2013-14 was $49.9 million, which included a $10.09 million of advance payments (excluding GST).

Defence has made a commitment that abuse of any kind is not to be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately. Importantly, Defence is now two and a half years into a significant five-year cultural change journey (through Pathway to Change) to ensure a future organisation that is safe, inclusive and respectful. Chapter 6 provides further details about Pathway to Change and cultural reform.