Response to media reporting on Trooper Evan Donaldson
3 February 2016
I believe it is important to respond to the recent media reporting regarding Trooper Evan Donaldson.
Regrettably, some media have elected to selectively represent Defence’s position on personnel matters.
It should be noted that there are legal requirements for release of the information under the Privacy Act of 1988. Defence is prohibited from disclosing an individual’s personal information, unless;
- Defence has the written permission of the individual,
- there are circumstances where disclosure is authorised or required by law, or
- disclosure meets one of the other exceptions in the Australian Privacy Principles.
A request from a media outlet for information relating to current or former members of the ADF, including their personal or service history therefore requires the individual’s written consent.
In September 2013, Trooper Donaldson provided consent for the Army to release his personal information to a media outlet. Accordingly, the Army responded to the enquiries submitted by the journalist.
In October 2014, Trooper Donaldson contacted the Army and withdrew his consent for the release of his personal information to members of the media. Trooper Donaldson has not subsequently advised the Army of any change to this position.
The Army is aware of the numerous allegations made by, and relating to, Trooper Donaldson against Defence and Defence personnel. Unless Trooper Donaldson provides consent to release his information, the Army is unable to publicly address these claims.
It is unfortunate when media reporting or public commentary does not present complete information. It is equally disappointing when Defence, including current and former members of the Australian Army, are represented as obdurate or acting with malicious intent when the ADF is simply abiding by legislative requirements (and the express wishes of the individual concerned).
I would encourage members of the media to consider how they represent the legislative requirements of the Privacy Act in their reporting. It is important for accuracy and balance to be a consideration in reporting.
Angus J Campbell, DSC, AM
Chief of the Australian Army