Govt to consider Defence abuse royal commission

THE Abbott government will consider "very carefully" a call for a royal commission to investigate allegations of abuse at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

Two reports from the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, tabled in parliament on Wednesday, revealed hundreds of allegations of sexual and physical abuse and failures in the Defence Force's response.

One report on investigations into abuse claims at ADFA found at least 50 plausible complaints between 1986, when the academy was created, and 2011, and urged a royal commission be established to investigate further.

The second report, into hundreds of allegations of sexual and physical abuse in the wider military, recommended further investigations, but stopped short of recommending the proposed royal commission investigate claims outside of ADFA. The reports highlighted about 1100 alleged perpetrators were still working in the ADF or Department of Defence in various capacities.

The report into ADFA allegations found at least 60 individuals allegedly responsible for sexual and physical abuse of cadets were still serving in the active forces, reserves or in the public service. But despite the call for the royal commission, Defence Minister David Johnston instead proposed extending the taskforce's remit beyond its original November 30 deadline.

Sen Johnston also ordered the department to work with Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick to further examine the issues raised at ADFA, but not across the wider military.

He said the government would respond "in the near future" to both reports, but it appeared unlikely the government would act on the recommendation for a royal commission.

Chief of the Defence Force Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin said Defence remained "committed" to action against perpetrators, but "we also have a responsibility to do no further harm to complainants".

Despite both reports finding many issues contributing to past abuse remained, CDF Binskin said "many of the issues raised" were being addressed.



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