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The Executive Summary of Volume 1 of the DLA Piper Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence was released under Freedom of Information processes on June 14.

In March, Defence Minister Stephen Smith released redacted extracts from the Executive Summary and Key Findings, Issues and Recommendations of Volume 1.

“The release of that material reflected the serious and concerning nature of the Review’s findings,” Minister Smith says.

“The release of the additional material underlines that.”

Following the ‘ADFA Skype incident’ in April 2011, a large number of allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence were made. In response to these allegations, the law firm DLA Piper was engaged by the then Defence Secretary, Dr Ian Watt, to review each allegation methodically and at arm’s length from Defence to make recommendations for further action.

The Review received communications in relation to allegations of past abuse from more than 1000 people.

The Review has two phases:

Phase 1 (complete): All allegations of sexual or other abuse and any related matters have been reviewed to make an initial assessment of whether the matters alleged have been appropriately managed and to recommend further action to the Minister. Phase 1 also considered systemic issues that will require further investigation in Phase 2.

Phase 2 will review Defence’s processes for responding to allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse and make appropriate recommendations about any systemic issues. Phase 2 will also oversee Defence’s implementation of the recommendations of Phase 1.

“In October 2011, I received Volume 1 (General Findings and Recommendations) and the first tranche of Volume 2 (Individual Allegations) of the Review’s report,” Minister Smith says.

“On April 17 this year I received the full and final tranche of Volume 2 (individual allegations).

“The Review received communications in relation to allegations of past abuse from over 1000 people and has identified allegations from 775 people which fell within the Review’s Terms of Reference, the overwhelming majority of which are said to be plausible allegations of abuse.”

These involve allegations across every decade from the 1950s. The earliest date of alleged abuse is 1951.

“These allegations are deeply concerning and are being treated very seriously,” Minister Smith says.

“The full Executive Summary released under Freedom of Information laws provides further detail in relation to the extracts previously released. The information in the Executive Summary confirms that the individual allegations, findings, issues and recommendations included in Part 1 are serious and concerning.

“They involve complex and sensitive matters in relation to specific abuses as well as systemic issues.”

The Executive Summary of the report outlines a range of options which may be open to government to provide a response to people who have made plausible allegations of sexual assault or other abuse to the Review, including:

existing schemes or mechanisms for compensation, such as bringing an action in the courts, seeking compensation under the statutory compensation schemes that cover Defence personnel or applying for a financial payment under discretionary compensation schemes

new mechanisms by which eligibility for some reparation might be considered, such as Royal Commission, judicial inquiry, Parliamentary committee or the appointment of a body similar to the current Review.

The Review also identified options which might be adopted to provide recognition for people who have made plausible allegations of past abuse, comprising public apology/acknowledgements, personal apology, capped compensation scheme, facilitated meeting between victim and perpetrator, health services and counselling.

The Review’s findings and recommendations are being carefully and methodically considered.

The Chief of the Defence Force released a video message, Defgram and signal regarding the release of the Executive Summary of Volume 1 of the DLA Piper Review on June 15. You are encouraged to review these messages.

A copy of the Executive Summary of Volume 1 of the DLA Piper Review can be found on the Defence website at http://www.defence.gov.au/culturereviews/docs/DLAPiper/Index.htm.