Complaints of defence force abuse are 'quite horrific'

MORE than 2400 complaints were lodged with the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce in its first year of operation, with further investigations underway.

The ABC reported on Tuesday taskforce chief and retired judge Len Roberts-Smith also said at least 12 alleged abusers linked to the ADFA 24 attacks on female cadets were still serving.

Those 24 allegations of rape and sexual assault at the defence force academy, which date back to the 1990s, were made to the Grey Review.

Mr Roberts-Smith described the complaints he had heard in his first year leading the taskforce as "quite horrific, quite shocking".

He told the ABC the taskforce had also found at least one case where an allegation of rape within the defence community was downgraded to misconduct.

"We've not seen anybody at the moment who has been above the rank of major," he said.

"We have had people in higher ranks than that, certainly so far, who we would see as warranting a recommendation that administrative action be taken... where they were responsible for defence mismanagement of the report."

His comments follow revelations in June, from then-defence minister Stephen Smith, that the true levels of abuse and sexual assault in Australia's military might be more widespread than earlier thought.

At that time Mr Smith highlighted numerous abuse allegations at both the ADFA facility in Canberra and the Navy's HMAS Leeuwin training base in Fremantle.

The minister said in parliament in June there were at least 48 instances involving allegations of "physical abuse, sexual abuse, harassment or bullying".

As of September this year, the taskforce confirmed it had paid out more than $3 million in reparation payments to victims of abuse in the force, under the Defence Abuse Reparation Scheme.

At least 70 payments were made to complainants, 50 of which were for the maximum payment available - $50,000 to victims.

"The number of payments is expected to rise and demonstrates the high incidence of serious abuses the taskforce is examining," Mr Roberts-Smith wrote at the time.

The taskforce has another year to continue investigations, and may yet recommend further investigations into the future.

DEFENCE ABUSE:

  • More than 2400 complaints of alleged abuse made so far
  • $3 million paid out to victims of abuse in Defence
  • Of the 70 payments made, 50 were for the maximum amount - $50,000
  • While many complainants were women, up to 70% were men, now aged older than 50


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