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Government issues apology to victims of abuse in Defence and announces taskforce

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith MP has issued an apology to victims who suffered abuse in Defence, announced the creation of an abuse response task force and a capped compensation scheme for victims of abuse in Defence.

"The announcement means that members of the LGBTI community who suffered abuse while serving in Defence now have an avenue to seek compensation," said Vince Chong, Chairman of the Defence LGBTI Information Service, the support network for LGBTI personnel and their families.

"The apology issued by the Government will be welcome news for LGBTI people who suffered abuse and may not have complained for fear of being outed.  Victims who did not participate in the first phase of the review now have an opportunity to raise a new claim or complaint."

DEFGLIS encourages victims of abuse to explore avenues that will be made available via the task force.  

For more information visit: www.ag.gov.au/defenceabusetaskforce

The Review into allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence received allegations from over 1,000 people. 

The Review 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. 

Smith said "the individual allegations, findings, issues and recommendations included in the Report are serious and concerning.  They involve complex and sensitive matters which have required very careful consideration."

The Government’s response to the Review is 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.

Chief of Defence for General David Hurley said: “It is my responsibility as Chief of the Defence Force to lead the ADF in assisting the Government to implement the processes that it has put in place. Together with the ADF’s senior leadership, I will work to provide a fair, just and inclusive work environment. I repeat my previous personal undertaking to endeavour strenuously to defend the right of all members of the ADF to serve in an environment free from abusive behaviour of any kind.

“My primary concern remains the welfare of those people who are affected by the DLA Piper Review. Defence has established a number of support mechanisms to assist those people who may be experiencing some distress.  I encourage you to access these services via the numbers below if you need assistance. This information is also available on the Defence website.

“Defence remains committed to achieving deep cultural reform across the organisation.  We will provide the appropriate resources and personnel to support the Government’s announcement today.”

Assistance is available at:

ADF members: The All-hours Support Line (ASL) is a confidential telephone service to assist ADF members and their families with accessing mental health services, such as psychology, medical, social work and chaplain services. The ASL number is 1800 628 036.

Defence APS employees: The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential and free service to assist APS employees and their immediate family members, who may require counselling services. Appointments can be made via the EAP hotline on 1300 361 008.

Former ADF members and Defence APS employees: Special arrangements have been made to extend the EAP service for immediate, initial counselling to former ADF members and former Defence APS employees and their immediate families who raise or have raised allegations affecting them with the external review team and who require counselling assistance. This service can be accessed via the EAP hotline on 1300 361 008.

Taskforce: The Government has established a Free Call Hotline for those people who want more information about the Government’s response including the taskforce: 1800 424 991.  There is also a website: www.ag.gov.au/defenceabusetaskforce

About the Author
Author: Vince Chong
Vince is the President of DEFGLIS. He is a project manager and an electronics engineer.
Also written by this author:

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