THE independent Defence Abuse Response Taskforce report into allegations of abuse at HMAS Leeuwin was today tabled in Parliament, marking a significant step in the efforts to address past incidences of abuse in the Australian Defence Force.
Defence acknowledges the significant work that the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce has undertaken in assessing the matters concerning HMAS Leeuwin. The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, acknowledged the courage and strength of the former HMAS Leeuwin junior recruits who have come forward and, in particular, those who have allowed the Taskforce to further share their story in this report.
"The matters reported in the HMAS Leeuwin report are abhorrent, and it goes without saying that abuses, such as those recorded, should not have occurred and have no place in the Australian Defence Force," General Hurley said.
General Hurley noted that such behaviour does not reflect the values and standards of behaviour expected of all ADF members today.
"The senior leadership group and I are committed to continue to address inappropriate behaviour and attitudes, and align Defence culture with that expected by our society of a modern military force."
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, said that Navy deeply regrets that this type of unacceptable behaviour was ever able to be inflicted upon junior recruits at HMAS Leeuwin.
"No person who wears the uniform of our armed forces should ever have to endure what these boys endured. Importantly some of those in positions of responsibility failed to intervene and consequently become part of the negative culture.
"To those individuals affected, I offer the reassurance that such behaviour is not tolerated and is dealt with swiftly in today's Navy," Vice Admiral Griggs said.
From 1960-1984 HMAS Leeuwin trained over 13,000 Navy members and played an important part in the development of the nation's capability at that time.
Vice Admiral Griggs stressed that Navy is a very different organisation today to that which existed in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
"This sort of behaviour is inconsistent with our values and the behaviours we all try to live by - it damages our people and our effectiveness to work together and achieve our mission," he said.
General Hurley and Vice Admiral Griggs acknowledged that while they are confident the abusive environment at HMAS Leeuwin as described does not exist in the Defence Force of today, the lessons can be learned from the Taskforce review of HMAS Leeuwin and the report will assist Defence's ongoing commitment to achieve real and sustained cultural change.