Taskforce calls for Royal Commission into ADF cadets abuse

A FAR-REACHING Royal Commission should begin into decades of abuse of cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, a taskforce investigating abuse allegations has recommended.

The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce released its latest report on abuse allegations at the military training academy, spanning its operations since inception in 1986 to 2011, on Wednesday.

In its report, the taskforce found that the experiences of abuse at ADFA reported were "extremely damaging" and had "profound and detrimental impacts" on victims in both the short and long term.

It further found it was likely many victims of abuse did not come forward to the taskforce or the earlier DLA Piper Review of abuse, and such victims "may never reveal the experiences to which they were subjected".

The taskforce examined at least 50 plausible complaints of sexual and physical abuse on cadets and others at the Academy between 1986 and the 2000s and found "widespread under-reporting" of potential abuse meant the likely number of victims could be much higher.

"there are at least 60 individuals allegedly responsible for sexual abuse, physical abuse, sexual harassment and harassment and bullying who are still serving in the active forces or active reserve…or who are Australian Public Service employees in Defence," the report reads.

The taskforce also found that in many cases, reports of abuse to the ADF "appear to have been inadequately or inappropriately managed by Defence", with some report not acted on, other cadets who reported abuse "dissuaded" from taking it further, and others "punished" for reporting allegations.

It also found many issues contributing to abuse at the academy remained today, including excessive alcohol consumption; inadequate supervision and security for cadets; a culture which discouraged reporting of abuse; inadequate response and "issues of leadership at ADFA".

The taskforce has called on the Federal Government establish a Royal Commission to investigate all allegations of abuse, the Defence response to such allegations from the inception of the academy "to the present day".
The government is yet to officially respond to the report's recommendation.

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