Minister for Defence
Stephen Smith MP
The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce
Tabled in conjunction with a Ministerial Statement
20 June 2013
The Government is committed to providing regular reports and updates on its response to allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence, including to the Parliament.
In April 2011, in the aftermath of the so-called ‘ADFA Skype incident’, I announced a range of Reviews into aspects of the culture within both the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to address ongoing concern in relation to failure to meet appropriate standards of conduct.
The cultural Reviews included the Use of Alcohol in the ADF, Personal Conduct of ADF Personnel, the Use of Social Media in Defence, Employment Pathways for Australian Public Service Women in Defence and the Management of Incidents and Complaints in Defence.
The Reviews assessed the good work that had been done to date in these areas and examined what further improvements could be made.
In addition to the Reviews into aspects of Defence culture, I also announced at that time two significant Reviews into the Treatment of Women at ADFA and in the ADF generally, to be conducted by the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Elizabeth Broderick, on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission, and the DLA Piper Review into Allegations of Sexual and Other Abuse in Defence.
On 11 April 2011, I also announced that the Chief of the Defence Force would bring forward for implementation by the Government the opening up of all roles in the ADF to women on the basis that determination for suitability for roles in the ADF is to be based on their ability to perform in the role, not gender.
In September 2011 the Government announced it had formally agreed to the removal of gender restrictions from ADF combat roles.
Defence’s comprehensive response to the cultural Reviews, the March 2012 Pathway to Change document, outlines how the recommendations of the various cultural Reviews will be implemented consistent with the wider Defence reform programme.
Pathway to Change sets out the requirement that Defence personnel demonstrate exemplary behaviour commensurate with the nation’s expectations, in and out of uniform, on and off duty, and how the Defence leadership will require these standards are met.
It states that Australia rightly expects that Defence will deliver to consistently high standards, including in everyday personal behaviour and in how personnel treat their colleagues.
This requirement was again underlined by the formal statement by the Defence leadership in October 2012 in response to the Broderick Review into the Treatment of Women in the ADF, which stated that every sexual offender and harasser will be held to account together with leaders who fail to appropriately address such behaviour.
As the Defence leadership stated on that occasion, when the Government and Defence adopted all of the recommendations of the Broderick Reviews, these standards are not open to negotiation.
The failure to meet the standards required of Pathway to Change and the Broderick Reviews was sadly demonstrated by the appalling revelations last week by the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, in relation to an ongoing investigation by the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service (ADFIS), in cooperation with the NSW Police, into the actions of a group of officers and non commissioned officers of the Australian Army.
The matters under investigation are serious and centre on the production and distribution of highly inappropriate material demeaning women across both the Defence computer systems and the public internet.
Three already suspended Army members are the subject of an ongoing investigation by New South Wales Police.
Army has initiated action to consider the suspension of another five members who are the subject of a parallel ADFIS investigation into a number of alleged Service offences.
Pending the outcome of the ongoing ADFIS investigation, the Army may consider further suspension decisions against nine others if the circumstances warrant.
ADFIS is also investigating a further 90 individuals who have been identified as peripheral to the group’s email exchanges.
The Government strongly supports the actions taken by the Chief of Army.
Lieutenant General Morrison has unambiguously reinforced his expectations of appropriate behaviour and demonstrated his resolve to act decisively in response to such despicable incidents.
Incidents such as these do significant reputational damage to the good work of the vast majority of the Australian Defence Force and are symptomatic of a systemic culture problem within Defence.
For two reasons this is a different case of inappropriate behaviour to that of the ‘ADFA Skype incident’.
First, this situation does not involve young men with weeks in the Australian Defence Force. It involves commissioned and non-commissioned officers who have been in the Army for years.
Second, the response on this occasion has been qualitatively different and significantly better than the response in the ‘ADFA Skype incident’.
The response to the ‘ADFA Skype incident’ was wanting and led directly to the Reviews referred to above, as well as the DLA Piper Review into Allegations of Sexual and Other Abuse in Defence.
In contrast to the response to the ‘ADFA Skype incident’, the Government strongly supports the robust response that demonstrates in the post-ADFA Skype environment the zero tolerance of Defence leadership for failure to meet appropriate standards.
General Morrison has unambiguously demonstrated the standard set by the Chief of the Defence Force, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Vice Chief of the Defence Force and the Service Chiefs for the Defence leadership’s zero tolerance response to inappropriate conduct.
General Morrison has set the benchmark for future zero tolerance responses to inappropriate conduct.
The Defence leadership is absolutely committed to pursuing the reforms necessary to ensure zero tolerance of inappropriate conduct.
Full implementation of the range of cultural reforms are essential to preventing future such occurrences and ensuring a zero tolerance response is adopted if they do occur.
To ensure that ongoing implementation of the reforms receives the necessary oversight, I have committed to providing an annual report to the Parliament on Defence’s implementation of the cultural reform program.
This is the first of these such annual reports.
On 26 November 2012 I announced the Government’s response to the Report of the DLA Piper Review into Allegations of Sexual or Other Abuse in Defence and on 14 March 2013 I presented to the House the First Interim Report of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.
Today I provide an update to the Parliament on the Government’s response to the DLA Piper Review and the work of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, chaired by the Honourable Len Roberts-Smith RFD,QC.
As well I will Table the Taskforce’s Second Interim Report.
Defence Abuse Response Taskforce
The DLA Piper Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence received allegations from over 1,000 people.
The DLA Piper Review identified a range of allegations from 775 people which fell within the Review’s Terms of Reference, the overwhelming majority of which were said to be plausible allegations of abuse.
These involve allegations across every decade from the 1950s. The earliest date of alleged abuse is 1951.
The individual allegations, findings, issues and recommendations included in the Report are serious and concerning. They involve complex and sensitive matters which required very careful consideration.
The Government’s response to the Review has been guided by the Recommendations in the Review and will ensure that people who have alleged past abuse in Defence receive a response which is tailored to their individual circumstances and the nature of their experiences.
The Response includes:
• An historic general Apology to members of the Australian Defence Force or Defence employees who have suffered sexual or other forms of abuse in the course of their employment delivered by me in the Parliament on 26 November 2012, and subsequently by the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
• The establishment of the independent Taskforce to assess the individual complaints and wider systemic issues headed by the Hon Len Roberts Smith QC; and
• Access to a capped reparation scheme.
The Taskforce is comprised of a Leadership Group appointed by the Attorney-General and me and staff who have been engaged by the Taskforce since its establishment.
The Leadership Group Chair, the Honourable Len Roberts-Smith RFD, QC is assisted in his role by three other Leadership Group members, Deputy Chair Mr Robert Cornall AO, Member Consultant Ms Susan Halliday, and Ex-Officio Member Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Rudi Lammers APM.
Under its Terms of Reference, the Taskforce is to:
• assess the findings of the DLA Piper Review and the material gathered by that Review, and any additional material available to the Taskforce concerning complaints of sexual and other forms of abuse by Defence personnel alleged to have occurred prior to 11 April 2011,the date of the announcement of the DLA Piper Review;
• include in this assessment the 24 Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) cases noted by DLA Piper and the cases of abuse identified by reports into physical violence and bullying at HMAS Leeuwin, and whether the alleged victims, perpetrators and witnesses in relation to these cases remain in Defence;
• determine, in close consultation with those who have made complaints, appropriate actions in response to those complaints;
• also, as appropriate, gather additional information relevant to consideration of the handling of particular allegations eg relevant records held by Defence;
• take account of the rights and interests of alleged victims, accused persons and other parties;
• liaise with the Minister for Defence, Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Department of Defence on any implications of its work for Defence’s ‘Pathway to Change’ and other responses to the series of reviews into Defence culture and practices in particular the work done by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner into the ADF and ADFA;
• report to the Attorney-General and Minister for Defence every 3 months on its progress and issues arising, including whether the funding it has been provided is adequate so as to enable the Attorney General and Minister for Defence to report to Parliament as appropriate;
• report to the Attorney-General and Minister for Defence by October 2013 on whether, and in what form, the Taskforce should continue in effect beyond the extended 18 month period and the funding that would be required so as to enable the Attorney General and Minister for Defence to report to Parliament as appropriate; and
• to advise whether a Royal Commission would be merited into any categories of allegation raised with the DLA Piper review or the Taskforce, in particular the 24 ADFA cases.
The Taskforce has responsibility for liaising with those who have made allegations of abuse to determine an appropriate response in individual allegations, which can include:
• restorative engagement where a complainant and a senior Defence representative are brought together in a facilitated process;
• referral to counselling (with the Taskforce being funded to provide counselling services beyond those generally available to Defence personnel or veterans) and health and other existing services;
• reparation, to a maximum of $50,000;
• referral of appropriate matters to police for formal criminal investigation and assessment for prosecution; and
• referral of appropriate matters for disposition by the military justice system or other Defence process (for example, considered under the Public Service Act).
All communications made to the DLA Piper Review, including those that were assessed by DLA Piper as being outside the scope of that Review or were referred to an external body, are intended to be reassessed by the Taskforce if consent is given by the individual who contacted DLA Piper for that reassessment.
The Taskforce is also assessing new allegations and complaints received by it since its establishment where those allegations refer to abuse that is alleged to have occurred prior to 11 April 2011 and received by the Taskforce by 31 May 2013.
In March when I tabled the First Interim Report by the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, the Taskforce was coming to the end of its Establishment Phase.
Taskforce Second Interim Report
The Second Interim Report outlines the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce’s transition into its Operational Phase. It provides important information in relation to the work of the Taskforce.
As the Report outlines, the Taskforce is continuing to gather material and assess both information provided to DLA Piper during its Review and information relating to new complaints registered with the Taskforce since its establishment in November 2012.
As at 31 May 2013, there were 2,410 complaints which will be assessed by the Taskforce.
Of these, 1535 are new complaints received by the Taskforce between 26 November 2012 and by 31 May 2013 and 875 are complaints which came from DLA Piper that the Taskforce has consent from the complainant to reassess.
Approximately 331 complaints have been identified as duplicates or multiple lodgements by the same person. 510 have not yet provided consent for information to be passed to the Taskforce.
These include 173 regarded by DLA Piper as plausible allegations. The Taskforce has received 602 of the plausible allegations made to DLA Piper.
I have asked the Taskforce to follow up with DLA Piper to ensure that individuals who have not yet given consent are given every opportunity for their complaints to be assessed by the Taskforce. If they provide such subsequent consent, their allegations will be assessed by the Taskforce.
By 6 June 2013, the Taskforce had contacted approximately 1380 complainants to answer enquiries, assist complainants complete the Taskforce’s forms and provide supporting information and discuss the options available to complainants and ascertaining which outcomes they wish to pursue.
More than 240 complaints were at various points of the assessment process on 6 June 2013 and eight complaints had been provided to the Reparation Payments Assessor for consideration.
The Taskforce will endeavour to provide resolution in consultation with the complainant, taking into account his or her individual circumstances and wishes.
The Taskforce will only work towards those outcomes the complainant indicates he or she wants.
During the period covered by this Report, the Taskforce has been:
• contacting consenting DLA Piper complainants to advise them their information is now with the Taskforce and requesting they complete a Statutory Declaration to confirm or amend their original personal accounts;
• sending out Personal Account Forms for completion by new complainants who contacted the Hotline or the Taskforce directly;
• liaising with complainants, Defence and other agencies to obtain further information in relation to particular complaints;
• processing, scanning and inputting data and information into the Taskforce’s Case Management System;
• answering complainants’ queries and informing them about what to expect when dealing with the Taskforce and how their matter will be handled and processed through to resolution; and
• assessing complaints to determine if they are within the scope of the Terms of Reference and the allegations are plausible.
About 1,380 complainants have been contacted by the Complainant Support Group which is answering their enquiries, assisting them to complete the Taskforce’s forms and provide supporting information and consulting complainants about the options open to them and the available resolutions they wish to pursue.
Other key achievements by the Taskforce since the first report include:
• scanning and collating over 20,000 documents received from DLA Piper and other sources;
• continuing the creation of case files and input of data into the Case Management System which will, when completed, cover all of the information about complaints received by the Taskforce. Approximately 1570 complaints including over 1920 cases have been recorded in the Case Management System;
• commencing discussions with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to agree on an information sharing protocol;
• developing the Counselling Program and in the process of procuring the required counselling services; and
• developing the Restorative Engagement Program and in the process of procuring the required restorative engagement services and working with Defence to facilitate the participation of senior Defence personnel;
• providing training from psychologists to all relevant staff to ensure they deal with complainants in an appropriate manner; and
• providing training on freedom of information, privacy, fraud control, bullying and sexual harassment and other key areas of the Taskforce’s operations.
On 14 March the Government announced that it had approved the operation of the Defence Abuse Reparation Payment Scheme.
The purpose of the Defence Abuse Reparation Payment Scheme is to recognise that abuse in Defence is unacceptable and wrong.
Individuals who suffered sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence should be afforded some form of financial reparation, as part of a broader acknowledgement that such abuse should never have occurred.
Recognition will be made in the form of a reparation payment to persons who have made plausible allegations of being subjected to sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence.
The Scheme also seeks to recognise individuals who reported abuse and whose cases were then mishandled by Defence management.
Reparation payments are not intended as compensation per se. They are a way of enabling people to move forward.
Payments to individuals will be capped at $50,000, with the amount provided to each complainant determined on a case by case basis taking into account the individual circumstances of the case.
On 30 May 2013 the Attorney-General and I announced that Ms Robyn Kruk AM would be the independent Reparation Payments Assessor.
The making of a Reparation Payment to a person under the Scheme is not intended to affect the statutory, common law or other legal rights of the person. However, a Court or Tribunal may, if it thinks fit, take the making of a Reparation Payment into account in assessing the amount of any damages or compensation otherwise payable to a person under the common law or a Commonwealth, State or Territory Statute.
“ADFA 24” and HMAS Leeuwin
The DLA Piper Review recommended that consideration be given to establishing a Royal Commission to inquire into particular matters, including whether any of the persons who were identified in 1998 as having been suspected of committing rape at ADFA are still in the ADF or whether any persons who allegedly witnessed and did not intervene to prevent these rapes are still in the ADF.
The Taskforce is expressly considering if further investigation through a Royal Commission is required into particular matters identified in the Report of the DLA Piper Review, in particular in relation to ADFA as outlined above and in relation to alleged events at HMAS Leeuwin in the 1960s and 1970s.
The ‘ADFA 24’ is a group of 24 serious allegations of rape from 19 complainants identified in 1998 in the course of the Grey Review (Report of the review into policies and practices to deal with sexual harassment and sexual offences at ADFA), and later in 2011 in the DLA Piper Volume 1 Report.
I asked the Taskforce to prioritise any ADFA 24 cases that came before it, so that it could provide outcomes for the victims and, where possible, identify the perpetrators of the abuse.
In accordance with the long established practice regarding sexual abuse cases, the Taskforce can only assist victims who come forward and consent to their case being assessed.
This ensures that the wishes and welfare of victims are the primary concern. It recognises that a victim might have reasons for not wanting their case to be examined, especially if the abuse occurred a long time ago.
To date only four of the 19 complainants of the so-called ‘ADFA 24’ cases have consented to their complaints being assessed by the Taskforce.
If a victim from the ADFA 24 cases told DLA Piper about their abuse but did not consent to that information coming to the Taskforce, they are still able to provide consent should they decide to do so.
Again, I have asked the Taskforce to follow up with DLA Piper to ensure that any such individual who made a complaint to DLA Piper about the ADFA 24 cases who have not yet given consent are given every opportunity for their complaints to be assessed by the Taskforce. If they provide subsequent consent, their allegations will be assessed by the Taskforce.
The Taskforce however now has an additional 48 complainants alleging incidents of physical abuse, sexual abuse, harassment or bullying at ADFA. The Taskforce is assessing these ADFA cases as well as the HMAS Leeuwin matters reported to it.
At this stage of analysis, several issues are becoming apparent to the Taskforce:
• the allegations of serious abuse at HMAS Leeuwin and ADFA are more widespread and persistent than was reported in the 1971 Rapke Report and in the 1998 Grey Review respectively;
• there are not presently sufficient complainants from those training institutions or detailed information to enable all alleged abusers to be properly identified;
• the particular issues which arose at HMAS Leeuwin and ADFA can also be seen at other ADF recruit schools and training institutions; and
• while powers to gather evidence would assist in examining these matters, the Taskforce is currently of the view that it is by no means clear that a Royal Commission is the necessary or the most appropriate mechanism to do so.
Pathway to Change
In March 2012, the then Secretary of the Department of Defence, Mr Duncan Lewis, the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, and I released the comprehensive Defence response to the Reviews: Pathway to Change.
The Pathway to Change is Defence’s statement of cultural intent and outlines the strategy for achieving that intent over a five-year program. It outlines how the recommendations of the Reviews will be implemented consistent with the wider Defence reform programme.
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) announced in August 2011.
The Black Review was the first comprehensive review to examine personal and institutional accountability in Defence as a whole.
Implementation of the Pathway to Change covers a series of systemic changes, as well as more immediate and specific initiatives. This includes:
• Increasing diversity within leadership groups;
• Fully implementing reforms at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) to address safety and behavior issues at ADFA;
• Applying principles of the ADFA reforms to all new starter training institutes across Defence.
Pathway to Change contains 15 key actions to implement cultural change in Defence, which are being implemented.
These are supported through the implementation of 160 recommendations and advice from the culture reviews and other reforms in Pathway to Change including the recommendations from the Broderick Reviews.
All of these recommendations were agreed or agreed in principle.
Ongoing implementation of the Pathway to Change is critical to ensuring that Defence’s culture meets modern Australian community standards.
That is why the 2013 Defence White Paper has formally embedded this cultural reform program in Defence policy.
It will build on personnel reform initiatives including New Generation Navy, the Army Cultural Framework, and the Air Force New Horizon Program.
As at 12 June 2013, a total of 108 of the Pathway to Change Actions and Defence Review Recommendations have been finalised:
• 6 of 15 key actions have been completed;
• 82 of 160 recommendations have been completed; and
• 20 of 160 recommendations have been overtaken by subsequent activities or reviews or have been addressed through other means.
It is expected that many of the remaining actions and recommendations currently being implemented will be completed over the coming year.
Pathway to Change Key Actions
Six Key Actions have been completed. These include:
• conducting Defence-wide discussion on values and behaviours;
• reviewing our communication strategy, including social media strategy, to communicate the Pathway to Change;
• addressing the backlog of grievances and simplifying responses to and management of unacceptable behaviour to make corrective processes faster and more transparent;
• implementing staffing, structures and review processes that enable the Pathway to Change;
• developing supporting policies to ensure full implementation of recommendations and independent culture reviews and associated reforms; and
• establishing research and data collection processes to inform ongoing development and implementation of Pathway to Change.
Defence Culture Reform Priorities
In addition to the 15 Key Actions, three broad priority areas within the cultural reform program have been identified and are being monitored closely. These are reducing sexual misconduct and unacceptable behaviour; reducing alcohol-related harm; and increasing workforce diversity.
Reducing Sexual Misconduct and Unacceptable Behaviour
Analysis by ADFIS shows that there have been on average 80 reports of sexual assault per year over the last five years.
One case of sexual assault is unacceptable. 80 cases is of grave concern.
Of particular concern is research which indicates that approximately 80 percent of victims do not report their experience.
The number of unacceptable behaviour complaints is also higher than one would want to see, increasing since 2009 in the ADF and Defence more generally. Complaints in the ADF increased from 624 in 2009 to 631 in 2012 and in the Australian Public Service in Defence increased from 124 in 2009 to 180 in 2012. Pathway to Change encourages a reporting culture; one in which people are not afraid to come forward and report unacceptable behaviour in the confidence that it will be dealt with.
Initiatives within Pathway to Change which support those who have experienced sexual misconduct and harassment include:
• a Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office (SeMPRO) has been established to provide timely response and support to victims of sexual misconduct and assault;
• ADFA has established a Residential Support Officers scheme and support options regarding health and wellbeing, sexual or personal abuse and violence; and
• redress and grievance processes are being strengthened.
Reducing Alcohol-related Harm (Hamilton Review)
Drinking and inappropriate behaviour often go hand in hand and we continue to need to understand better how to manage unhealthy drinking cultures.
Defence is making steady progress in implementing recommendations in the Review by Professor Margaret Hamilton, an executive member of the Australian National Council on Drugs, into the overall strategy for managing the use of alcohol in the ADF.
Implementation aims to build the capacity of the ADF to effectively manage alcohol and enhance operational capacity, reduce personal harm and minimise organisational costs.
Implementation has commenced on all eight recommendations, the bulk of which are subject to the comprehensive development of an ADF Alcohol Management Strategy.
Immediate and specific initiatives include:
• the preparation of an evidence-based alcohol management strategy for implementation within Defence;
• Defence to ensure that the pricing of alcohol available at Defence establishments is consistent with the alcohol management strategy;
• Commanders to assess situations in which alcohol is proposed to be used informally or formally, and where specific approval would then be required for the use and access to alcohol within an ADF work location; and
• Defence-funded bar hours on bases have been reduced and a Defence-wide bar operating model is to be issued in July 2013.
Defence is committed to increasing the diversity of its workforce and to implementing measures which support the increased representation of, and career pathways for, women.
Recommendations from the reviews being implemented centre around key themes of:
• increasing leadership commitment;
• increasing support and development;
• increasing awareness;
• recruiting strategies; and
• employment conditions, including workplace flexibilities.
These measures build on previous work to increase representation of women in the ADF and we are seeing some gains with the number of women in the ADF increasing gradually over the last six years.
The number of women in the permanent ADF has increased from 6,828 (13.2 percent) at 1 January 2008 to 7,989 (14.2 percent) at 1 April 2013.
The percentage of women recruited to Defence has increased since 2011:
• Navy increased from 21.3 percent in the period 1 Apr 11 – 31 Mar 12, to 22.3 percent in 1 Apr 12 – 31 Mar 13.
• Army increased from 13.2 percent in the period 1 Apr 11 – 31 Mar 12, to 13.8 percent in 1 Apr 12 – 31 Mar 13.
• Air Force increased from 19.7 percent in the period 1 Apr 11 – 31 Mar 12, to 27.5 percent in 1 Apr 12 – 31 Mar 13.
• APS increased from 43.7 percent in the period 1 Apr 11 – 31 Mar 12, to 44.1 percent in 1 Apr 12 – 31 Mar 13.
The proportion of women in the senior leadership group (at Colonel or Executive Level 2 and above) is still lower than we would like, but we are implementing initiatives that will see this increase over time.
An important part of increasing representation of women in Defence is full implementation of the Broderick Reviews into the Treatment of Women in at ADFA and in the ADF.
In addition to implementation of these priority areas, implementation of the full suite of recommendations from each of the cultural reviews is progressing well.
Implementation of the Reviews
The Review of Employment Pathways for APS Women in Defence (McGregor Review)
The review, by Ms Carmel McGregor, examined the effectiveness of current strategies and proposed recommendations across a range of issues regarding employment pathways for Defence APS women.
Recommendations relate to:
• achieving committed leadership support to gender diversity;
• talent management and succession planning initiatives;
• improving workplace flexibilities;
• measures to attract and recruit women to APS roles in Defence; and
• programs to support and develop career pathways for women, in particular, into senior leadership positions.
Work is well progressed in implementing the review’s recommendations. Of the 20 recommendations, 18 have been implemented, including:
• increasing the number of women on senior leadership committees;
• establishing a diversity council and including diversity as a key performance indicator in senior leadership performance agreements;
• establishing a talent management program for Executive Level staff which includes facilitated shadowing and coaching,