Statement by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force to survivors of abuse
30 June 2016
Thank you for the opportunity for me to acknowledge the courage and the strength of the survivors who have come forward and told their stories; not only those who have come forward to this Commission but those who have come forward to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce and to Defence more generally.
Your stories are changing the ADF and they have strengthened the resolve of the senior leadership of the ADF to stamp out abuse in all its forms and, in particular, child sexual abuse. People and systems have failed you and they have put others at risk. That is simply not good enough.
I am deeply sorry for what has happened to you. No-one who pulls on the uniform of this country and no child who is under our care should ever have happen to them what has happened to you.
I would particularly like to acknowledge the partners, the families and the carers of survivors and those who carry the memory of survivors who have passed away. I know you are as impacted by the consequence of abuse as much as the survivor themselves.
I know you carry this for many decades and in many cases for your life. I also know that there are many survivors who have told their stories who simply would not be here today without you. I think your role is not recognised anywhere near enough.
In the ADF we have made some significant changes to our culture. We needed to. We are trying to move away from the culture that excludes and allows what has happened in the past to a culture that includes.
Strangely, the senior leadership has been very publicly criticised for this approach. I want to reassure you that, to a person, we will not be bowed by this criticism. We will continue vigorously to pursue a path where we have a culture that is diverse and inclusive.
We will strive to make children's interactions in Defence safe. We will try to build on the thousands of volunteers and Defence members who are committed to that today and are working towards that reality.
Your stories are tragic, but they are transformational, and I thank you again for your courage in bringing forward these stories. And your Honour, I thank you and the Royal Commission team for the work that you do.