Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
22 August 2017
Defence welcomes today’s release of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Report on Case Study 40.
Case Study 40 examined both historical and contemporary complaints and cases of child sexual abuse in the ADF, with a focus on Navy’s former Junior Recruit Training Establishment at HMAS Leeuwin, the Army Apprentices School at Balcombe, and Australian Defence Force Cadet organisations from 2000 to present.
Throughout this important inquiry Defence had been assisting the Royal Commission and fully supports its objectives to safeguard children.
As noted by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral Ray Griggs during the public hearing, the courage displayed by the survivors of abuse and their families has been one of the most powerful catalysts for change.
“What happened to them was wrong. However their stories of personal suffering have helped change the ADF and strengthened the resolve of the senior leadership to stamp out abuse in Defence,” VADM Griggs said.
He said the stories of victims were fundamental to the work being done within Defence to improve our culture and how our people are treated.
“Those who have come forward, not only to the Royal Commission but to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce and to Defence more generally, are owed a debt of gratitude,” he said.
"The failures of the past will not be forgotten; but it is reassuring that the Royal Commission has acknowledged the significant work that has been undertaken by Defence to create uniformed child safety procedures and protocols.
“This certainly does not mean we can relax in our commitment to this issue. The safety and wellbeing of children involved with, or working within, Defence is paramount, which is why significant resources have been committed to embedding an enduring youth safety culture within the organisation.
Work on the development of the ‘Defence Youth Safety Framework’ began before the Royal Commission hearings; although there is no doubt the evidence presented throughout Case Study 40 provided a greater impetus for Defence to accelerate progress on the reform agenda and further improve our youth safety regime.
The broad range of policies, procedures and processes that have been implemented or refined in recent times demonstrates Defence’s commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for all young people in our care. Some examples of progress are detailed in the linked factsheet (PDF, 106KB).
Further to this, a Commonwealth Redress Scheme as proposed by the Royal Commission is currently being developed by the Department of Social Services. Defence is contributing to the implementation of the Scheme, which from 1 July 2018 will provide another redress mechanism for victims of child sexual abuse in Commonwealth settings.
Defence has a presence in all jurisdictions within Australia and it is essential that we have systems in place that satisfy all of the existing Commonwealth, State and Territory requirements. This work will help us ensure that policies and processes are enduring and that, consequently, the modern Australian Defence Force can be recognised and trusted as a child safe organisation.