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Secretary’s column

by Duncan Lewis

THE executive summary of the DLA Piper Review: Allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence was released on June 14 by Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

The Review confirms the individual allegations, findings, issues and recommendations that were submitted in Volume 1 when more than 1000 allegations were made relating to specific abuses and systemic issues in Defence—dating back to the 1950s.

These allegations are deeply concerning and are being treated very seriously. We are now carefully considering the Review’s findings and recommendations; and we are committed to evolving the Defence culture to reflect modern community expectations.

Our response to the systemic issues identified in the Review will align with the Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture, released in March this year, which articulates Defence’s cultural intent: trusted to defend, proven to deliver, respectful always.

The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, and I are absolutely committed to ensuring that Defence provides a workplace that is safe and equitable for all employees. The wellbeing of our people is our overwhelming priority and I will keep you informed as we work through these complex and very serious issues.

Further information on the DLA Piper Review process is on the Pathway to Change website at http://intranet.defence.gov.au/People/sites/CultureReviews/

In early June I accompanied the Defence Minister Stephen Smith and General Hurley to China for the inaugural Australia-China Defence Ministers’ Dialogue.

The visit marked 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Peoples’ Republic of China. Discussions covered regional security and emphasised the importance of continuing bilateral defence engagement.

Our relationship with China has become increasingly significant as we see the strategic and economic shift from the Western world to the Asia-Pacific.

Later this year we will be hosting the Chinese People’s Liberation Army as part of a second bilateral Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise. This follows Australia’s participation in Cooperation Spirit 11 in Sichuan Province, China, last November.

These kinds of joint peacekeeping exercises are likely to continue as Australia and China work to enhance bilateral defence engagement.

General Hurley and I will visit China again later this year for the 15th Defence Strategic Dialogue.

I want to turn to the increasing risk associated with cyber security. This will be an emerging issue as Defence advances to a ‘networked force’. Our reliance on operating in cyberspace and the need for dependable, secure and integrated information systems is growing.

Defence operates a number of networks from unclassified to top secret which are variously electronically linked to public, Government and allied networks. While our computer network capabilities have grown, Defence has worked to ensure the security of these networks through special technology and processes. However, cyber attacks on our systems have also become more sophisticated and targeted—this has seen a rapid increase during the past two years.

Our networks are continually challenged by cyber threats—intentional or accidental; from individuals within or outside Defence. For these reasons the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) was established within the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD).

The CSOC is staffed by highly-skilled information security experts, software engineers, analysts and computer scientists and provides situational awareness and the capacity to detect and rapidly respond to cyber security incidents.

If you think that your area may be vulnerable, I encourage you to contact the Cyber Security Operations Centre in DSD.

In closing, I would like to make reference to the St Vincent de Paul CEO Sleepout, which was held on the evening of June 21.

I joined with about 150 participants in the ACT to spend a rainy night in close to freezing temperatures, with a couple of flattened cardboard boxes to sleep on, as a small glimpse into the realities of homelessness and to raise money for Vinnies homeless services.

Having seen homelessness and poverty in many parts of the world, I know much more needs to be done to help homeless men, women and children, who represent more than 100,000 of Australia’s population.

Defence has a long history of supporting community projects and I am personally very grateful for the generous contributions I have received for this important cause.

Thanks to the support of Defence employees, more than $13,000 has been raised to support St Vincent de Paul Society services for the homeless. The fundraiser will continue through to the end of July and donations can be made at www.ceosleepout.org.au