CDF statement regarding Defence Abuse Response Taskforce Report
26 November 2014
The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, has welcomed the reports tabled in Parliament today by the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.
In thanking the Taskforce for its ongoing work, Air Chief Marshal Binskin acknowledged the Honourable Len Roberts-Smith for the dedicated and professional manner in which he has approached these difficult matters.
“The ADF leadership accepts that the past abuse described in these reports has had a profound impact on victims, and commends their courage in speaking up. Recognising and understanding the nature and extent of historical abuse is fundamental to improving how our people are treated,” ACM Binskin said.
The reports provide a detailed account of the impact of abuse as well as a significant volume of statistical data and specific referrals regarding more than 2400 reported cases of abuse spanning almost 70 years from the 1940s to April 2011, which Defence is now carefully considering.
“Defence will always respect the complainants’ wishes and interests, and while we remain committed to action against alleged abusers, we also have a responsibility to do no further harm to complainants,” ACM Binskin said.
“We take every allegation of abuse seriously and consider each one individually. However, as outlined in the taskforce’s reports, Defence is bound by the application of legal and administrative standards of proof and requirements of procedural fairness. Adverse action of any kind against individuals must be based on evidence that satisfies the required standard of proof.
“Defence continues to work closely with the taskforce in considering appropriate responses to matters which range from mismanagement through to allegations of bullying, harassment, physical assault and sexual abuse. In this respect I have requested the taskforce make referrals of cases to me as soon as practical.
Many of the issues raised in the reports are being addressed through the Pathway to Change cultural reform program. In today’s reports, the taskforce acknowledged the significant commitment within Defence to achieving cultural change.
“I believe we are making real progress on cultural change across Defence to become more fair, inclusive and respectful. I am pleased that ADFA today is at the forefront of this change. I am confident that the vast majority of our people do respect our organisation’s values and expected behaviours,” ACM Binskin said.
Addressing historical allegations of abuse in Defence is a difficult and complex issue affecting the lives of many people. Defence remains focused on supporting the victims of abuse, and is implementing initiatives such as the Defence Abuse Restorative Engagement Program to ensure individuals are given the opportunity to have their personal stories heard, acknowledged and responded to.
Defence notes the Taskforce’s recommendation that a Royal Commission is merited into the abuse at the Australian Defence Force Academy. The establishment of a Royal Commission is a decision for the Government.
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