17 April 2012

Receipt of DLA Piper Report: Allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence

Australia's Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, MP, today received the Final Report of Phase 1 of the DLA Piper Review of Allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence.

Following the ‘ADFA Skype incident’ in April 2011, a large number of allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in the Australian Defence Force and Defence were made.

In response to these allegations, the law firm DLA Piper was engaged by the then Secretary of the Department of Defence to review each allegation methodically and at arm’s length from Defence to make recommendations for further action.

The Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence received allegations from over 1000 people.

The Review has two phases:
  • Phase 1, now complete: all allegations of sexual or other abuse and any related matters have been reviewed to make an initial assessment of whether the matters alleged have been appropriately managed and to recommend further action to the Minister. Phase 1 also considered systemic issues that will require further investigation in Phase 2.
  • Phase 2 will review Defence’s processes for responding to allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse and make appropriate recommendations about any systemic issues. Phase 2 will also oversight Defence’s implementation of the recommendations of Phase 1.
In October 2011, I received Volume 1 (General Findings and Recommendations) and the first tranche of Volume 2 (Individual Allegations) of the Review’s Report.

On 7 March I released redacted extracts from the Executive Summary and Key Findings, Issues and Recommendations of Volume 1.

The Review received communications in relation to allegations of past abuse from over 1000 people. The Review has identified allegations from 775 people which fell within the Review’s Terms of Reference, the overwhelming majority of which are plausible allegations of abuse.

These involve allegations across every decade from the 1950s. The earliest date of alleged abuse is from 1951. The individual allegations, findings, issues and recommendations included in Part 1 are serious and concerning. Defence claims these involve complex and sensitive matters.

Volume 1 of the Report outlines a range of options which may be open to Government to provide a response to people who have made plausible allegations of sexual assault or other abuse to the Review, including:
  • Existing schemes or mechanisms for compensation, such as:
  • bringing an action in the courts;
  • seeking compensation under the statutory compensation schemes that cover Defence personnel; and
  • applying for a financial payment under discretionary compensation schemes.
  • New mechanisms by which eligibility for some reparation might be considered, such as:
    • Royal Commission;
    • judicial inquiry;
    • Parliamentary Committee; and
    • the appointment of a body similar to the current Review.
    The Review also identified options which might be adopted to provide recognition for persons who have made plausible allegations of past abuse, comprising:
    • public apology/acknowledgements;
    • personal apology;
    • capped compensation scheme;
    • facilitated meeting between victim and perpetrator; and
    • health services and counselling.

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