Minister for Defence Stephen Smith today released all of the initial report of the DLA Piper Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence, subject to a small range of appropriate redactions.
In October 2011, I received the initial report (Volume 1, General Findings and Recommendations) and the first tranche of the final report (Volume 2, Individual Allegations) of the Review’s Report.
A supplement to the initial report, delivered in April this year, has also been released. The supplement updates the conclusions and findings of the initial report to take into account the completion, in April this year, of the final report of the Review.
Redactions to the material released today take into account advice from the legal team conducting the Review and the Secretary of the Department of Defence. The redactions are in line with Freedom of Information legislation processes to protect personal information.
In March this year I released extracts from the Executive Summary and Key Findings, Issues and Recommendations of the initial report. In June, the Executive Summary of the initial report of the DLA Piper Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence was released under Freedom of Information processes.
At that time I said there was a realistic prospect that further material would be released.
The release of this further material today underlines the serious and concerning nature of the Review’s findings and the complex and sensitive issues which the Report relates to.
Now that the final report has been delivered and is under consideration by the Government, it is appropriate to release the complete initial report, with appropriate redactions. The Government’s focus is now on considering and responding to the final report.
The final report of the Review has been under consideration since April. I expect that the Government will be able to announce a response to the Review in the near future.
Following the so-called ‘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 1,000 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; and
- 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.
The Review has identified a range of 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.
They involve complex and sensitive matters in relation to specific abuses as well as systemic issues.
Faced with the sheer number, the age and the seriousness of many of the complaints, the process of properly testing these allegations will take some time.
The initial report, and the supplement, 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.
A copy of the initial report and the supplement as redacted can be found at:
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999