“Today the Minister for Defence has announced details of the Government’s response to the DLA Piper Review of Allegations of Sexual and other Forms of Abuse in Defence.
“The three Services and the ADF have served Australia with distinction for over a hundred years. The ADF has been successful in a wide variety of operations because it prepares itself well. The ADF trains hard in peacetime to prepare for the physical and mental rigors that come with warfare. During peace and war, hundreds of thousands of Australians have served in the ADF and the great majority have had no experience of incidents of abuse, either as perpetrators or victims. However we cannot ignore the damage and suffering that has been caused to some.
“Australians join the ADF for many reasons: for love of Australia and a desire to serve it in uniform; for the prospect of a challenging, demanding and rewarding career; for personal and professional development; and for comradeship. Whatever the reason, every person who joins the ADF deserves to be appropriately prepared for operations. Accepting that the rigors of training in the Army, Navy and Air Force will be tough and demanding every ADF member must be able to pursue their aspirations in an environment free from physical, mental and sexual abuse in accordance with the ADF’s values and associated behaviours.
“The allegations received through the DLA Piper review process demonstrate that the ADF has not always provided such an environment. That it hasn’t done so is evident in alleged incidents of sexual, physical and mental abuse.
“The DLA Piper Report offers some reasons for why abuse has occurred. The number, nature, and range of allegations demonstrates that some members of the ADF have failed to understand the responsibility that rank imposes, that rank is a privilege and not a licence for domineering, belittling or predatory behaviour. Some have failed to accept that diversity, diversity of age, gender, race, culture and experience, is a strength in the ADF that needs to be built upon and not torn down.
“The ADF has begun addressing these causes through its cultural reform program. But I, as the head of the ADF, recognise the suffering that some have experienced. On behalf of the ADF, I say that I am sorry to those who have suffered sexual, physical or mental abuse while serving in the ADF.
“It is my responsibility as Chief of the Defence Force to lead the ADF in assisting the Government to implement the processes that it has put in place. Together with the ADF’s senior leadership, I will work 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.
“The Minister has also provided an update on the implementation of Defence Cultural Reform Strategy known as Pathway to Change; the Defence response to the Review into the treatment of women in the Australian Defence Force and progress on the removal of gender restrictions. These updates are available on the Defence website.
“My primary concern remains the welfare of those people who are affected by the DLA Piper Review. Defence has established a number of support mechanisms to assist those people who may be experiencing some distress. I encourage you to access these services via the numbers below if you need assistance. This information is also available on the Defence website.
“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.”
Assistance is available at:
ADF members: The All-hours Support Line (ASL) is a confidential telephone service to assist ADF members and their families with accessing mental health services, such as psychology, medical, social work and chaplain services. The ASL number is 1800 628 036.
Defence APS employees: The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential and free service to assist APS employees and their immediate family members, who may require counselling services. Appointments can be made via the EAP hotline on 1300 361 008.
Former ADF members and Defence APS employees: Special arrangements have been made to extend the EAP service for immediate, initial counselling to former ADF members and former Defence APS employees and their immediate families who raise or have raised allegations affecting them with the external review team and who require counselling assistance. This service can be accessed via the EAP hotline on 1300 361 008.
Taskforce: The Government has established a Free Call Hotline for those people who want more information about the Government’s response including the taskforce: 1800 424 991. There is also a website: www.ag.gov.au/defenceabusetaskforce
Video of the Chief of the Defence Force’s statement is available via the Parliament House Press Gallery and at http://www.video.defence.gov.au
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999