29 April 2010

Fresh allegations of inappropriate behavior on board HMAS Success are investigated

Today the Australian Defence Force ("ADF") announced that it was investigating fresh allegations of a small number of incidents of "inappropriate behavior" involving members of the crew of HMAS Success.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the alleged incidents occurred whilst members of the crew were ashore in Singapore from 23 - 24 April 2010. The allegations first surfaced to ADF leadership after they were initially reported to the ship's commanding officer on 28 April.

"In accordance with standard procedures, ADF Investigative Service ("ADFIS") is now conducting an investigation. Of course, we take any instances of inappropriate behavior seriously," said Air Chief Marshal Houston in an ADF press release.

The ADF press release is unclear regarding what exactly what type of "inappropriate behavior" has been alleged.

Incidents of sexual harassament on board the HMAS Success has been recently investigated by an Australian Senate inquiry. This blog has previously discussed this case here, here, here and here.

With respect to previous incidents of inappropriate behavior, ADF has made available to the public the instrument of appointment in the Commission of Inquiry into the HMAS Success on the alleged incidents of unacceptable behaviour involving sex betting. The 7 page ADF document, dated 9 March 2010, can be found here.

A report on the past incidents was due to be furnished to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade no later than Thursday, 18 March 2010, according to the recently released ADF instrument of appointment. An interim report can be found here. The final report is now expected to be issued by 30 June 2010.

A webpage has been setup by the Senate committee titled "Inquiry into an equity and diversity health check in the Royal Australian Navy - HMAS Success" which can be found here. The terms of reference for the Senate inquiry can be found here. According to the Senate Committee's webpage, it expects to be in a position to report to the full Senate on or about 2 September 2010.

The Acting Chief of the Navy, Rear Admiral Davyd Thomas, said Navy Policy supported the immediate reporting of the new incidents and sailors were encouraged to report any concerns.

"The matters subject to the ADFIS investigation were brought to the Commanding Officer's attention through proactive management action and are being dealt with appropriately," said Rear Admiral Thomas. He also noted that it is important to stress that these allegations are yet to be proven and the presumption of innocence applies.

ADF will not comment any further on the new alleged incidents until the ADFIS investigation is complete. But it is unclear how long that will take.

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