Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today released redacted extracts from the Executive Summary and Key Findings of Volume 1 (General Findings and Recommendations) of the DLA Piper Report into 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 determine the most appropriate way for these complaints to be addressed.
The Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence received allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence from over 1,000 people.
The Review is being conducted in two phases:
- In Phase 1, all allegations of sexual or other abuse and any related matters are being 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 is also considering 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.
Today I release redacted extracts from the Executive Summary and Key Findings, Issues and Recommendations of Volume 1.
Redactions to the material take into account advice from the legal team conducting the Review and the Secretary of the Department of Defence.
As at October last year, the Review had identified allegations from 847 people which fell within the Review’s Terms of Reference, not including allegations received after October 2011.
These involve allegations across every decade from the 1950s. The earliest date of alleged abuse is 1951.
Following further work and assessment, the Review team now advises that allegations from 775 people are now considered to fall within the Terms of Reference, the overwhelming majority of which are plausible allegations of abuse.
The Findings, Issues and Recommendations of Part 1 Volume 1 are serious and concerning.
They identify specific and systemic issues requiring further consideration by Government.
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 under Phase 2 of 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 the Commonwealth’s discretionary compensation schemes.
- New mechanisms by which eligibility for some reparation might be considered, such as:
- Royal Commission;
- Judicial inquiry; and
- Parliamentary Committee.
- 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.
These options and next steps will be considered together with the final report of Volume 2. The final report is expected to be completed this month.
Since October last year, the Review has continued the methodical process of assessing the large volume of individual allegations at arm’s length from Defence.
The allegations before the Review team involve complex and sensitive matters and more time has been required than originally estimated. It has been essential for time to be taken to get the assessments right.
The Review’s findings and recommendations will be considered and dealt with carefully and methodically, including a full opportunity for Defence to carefully consider and respond in relation to the Review report, including the opportunity to test the large number of plausible allegations.
A copy of the Review’s Terms of Reference are attached, together with the redacted material made public.
Report of the Review of allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence
DLA Piper Terms of Reference
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department: (02) 6127 1999