Calls for defence force royal commission
Posted on 01/24/19 6:22 PM
Calls are mounting for a royal commission into the military’s handling of abuse claims and the abolition of the Australian Defence Force Academy.
The ABC TV’s Four Corners program has aired fresh stories from four former cadets who claim to have been raped, sexually assaulted or denigrated while at the academy in the 1990s and 2009.
One woman still connected with the military says she continues to face contact with her alleged attackers, some of whom have risen within military ranks with commendations.
She was indecently assaulted by a superior in her bedroom in the 90s, when she was considered a low-ranked “divisional toy” at the academy.
“I … pretended to be dead really, and I wished I was,” she told the program.
Another woman, whose police complaint was later dropped, still serves alongside her alleged rapist in the military.
“It all just came flooding back … the panic attacks … the sleeplessness … the nervousness,” she said of a recent encounter.
“I expect to carry those things with me for the rest of my life.”
The women have criticised the military’s response to abuse claims – the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce – as inadequate.
They have also been joined by former Australian Defence Force magistrate Ken Northwood in calling for a royal commission to fully uncover the extent of abuse and hold the perpetrators to account.
Another past academy official, its former deputy commandant Paul Petersen, has called for the closure of the academy amid fears another cycle of abuse could re-merge.
Defence’s process of handling abuse complaints in the 1990s has also been criticised, with claims they were filed into a cabinet later known as the “chamber of horrors”.
Former West Australian Supreme Court judge Len Roberts-Smith QC, who is leading the taskforce, says he’s confident the perpetrators will be identified through a new defence force database.
But he dismissed the need for a royal commission and is leaving the job of referring alleged abusers to the Defence Force Chief David Hurley for possible action.
General Hurley says he will take up each case if it’s referred to him, vowing to crack down on perpetrators.
“I will root this out if you give me the right information,” he said.