Minister for Defence – Release of the Executive Summary of Volume 1 of the DLA Piper Report: Allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today advised that the Executive Summary of Volume 1 of the DLA Piper Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence had been released under Freedom of Information processes.

In March this year I released redacted extracts from the Executive Summary and Key Findings, Issues and Recommendations of Volume 1.

The release of that material reflected the serious and concerning nature of the Review’s findings.

The release of the additional material today underlines that.

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, which is 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 17 April this year I received the full and final tranche of Volume 2 (individual allegations).

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 said to be plausible allegations of abuse.

These involve allegations across every decade from the 1950s. The earliest date of alleged abuse is 1951.

These allegations are deeply concerning and are being treated very seriously.

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

The full Executive Summary released today under Freedom of Information laws provides further detail in relation to the extracts previously released. The information in the Executive Summary confirms that the individual allegations, findings, issues and recommendations included in Part 1 are serious and concerning.

They involve complex and sensitive matters in relation to specific abuses as well as systemic issues.

The Executive Summary 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 or applying for a financial payment under discretionary compensation schemes; and
  • New mechanisms by which eligibility for some reparation might be considered, such as Royal Commission, judicial inquiry, Parliamentary committee or 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.

The Review’s findings and recommendations are being carefully and methodically considered, including a full opportunity for Defence to carefully consider and respond in relation to the Review report.

Defence’s response to the systemic issues identified in the Review will be based on Defence’s ‘Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture’ document, released by the Secretary and the Chief of the Defence Force in March this year.

Following the ‘ADFA Skype incident’ in April 2011, I announced a range of Reviews into aspects of the culture within Defence, to address ongoing areas of concern and to promote appropriate conduct.

These Reviews were initiated by the then CDF and the then Secretary.

The Reviews audited and assessed the good work that has been done to date in these areas, examined what further improvements can be made and what lessons can be learnt from other organisations.

In summary, the Reviews found that while good progress has been made, there are still areas of weakness and more work is required to be done to ensure Defence culture is commensurate with the nation’s modern day expectations.

In total, the reviews made 109 recommendations. Of these, 85 have been accepted fully by Defence. The remaining 24 have been accepted in-principle.

Defence’s comprehensive response to the Reviews, the ‘Pathway to Change: Evolving Defence Culture’ outlines how the recommendations of the reviews will be implemented consistent with the wider Defence reform programme.

The recommendations of these Reviews will build on the ADF and Defence’s existing cultural strengths to develop an organisation which reflects modern community standards and attitudes.

Implementation of the Defence cultural reviews will incorporate implementation of the Broderick Review into the Treatment of Women at ADFA. Part One of the Broderick Review was tabled in Parliament in November last year. Part Two, which is considering the treatment of women in the wider ADF, and pathways for women into leadership roles in the ADF, is due later this year.

Pathway to Change also builds on the institutional and personal accountability reforms in Defence to implement the Review of the Defence Accountability Framework (the Black Review) which were announced in August 2011. The Black Review was the first comprehensive review to examine personal and institutional accountability in Defence as a whole.

A copy of the Executive Summary of Volume 1 of the DLA Piper Review can be found at: http://www.defence.gov.au/foi/disclosure_log_201112.cfm

A copy of the redacted extracts from the Executive Summary and Key Findings, Issues and Recommendations of Volume 1 can be found at: http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2012/03/07/minister-for-defence-release-of-redacted-extracts-from-executive-summary-and-findings-of-volume-1-of-the-dla-piper-report-allegations-of-sexual-and-other-abuse-in-defence/

Media contact:

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392.


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