The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has highlighted the many issues surrounding institutional abuse. This includes the responses to allegations of sexual abuse occurring in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
In December 2016 the Royal Commission heard experiences of child sexual abuse survivors from the following institutions:
HMAS Leeuwin from 1960-1980
The Army Apprentice School Balcombe from 1970-1980, and
ADF Cadets from 2000- Present
Abuse within the Defence Force isn’t limited to those training facilities, and it’s not limited to persons under the age of 18. Between April and October 2011, there were 1,112 allegations* of physical and sexual abuse within the defence force.
The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART), established in 2012, received around 2,400 allegations of physical and sexual abuse. These allegations spanned every service within the force since the 1940’s.
The Royal Commission was contacted by 111 people relating to child sexual abuse cases. The three institutions covered by the Royal Commission were only covered due to their explicit relationship with children.
This doesn’t mean other bases and areas of the Defence Force didn’t experience a culture of physical and sexual abuse.
Here at Kelso Lawyers we believe every victim of institutional abuse is important.
Your story should be heard.
Australian Army Abuse
The most famous case of abuse coming from the Royal Commission was that of CJU. CJU entered the Army Apprentice School of Balcombe, Victoria in 1977. He was 16.
CJU was bullied and physically abused by senior recruits. The abuse escalated after reporting his abuse to his Company Commander, where he gave evidence of the abuse in front of his perpetrators.
He was then sexually abused by senior recruits. After confiding in a captain regarding his abuse, he was then sexually abused by the captain.
Australian Navy Abuse
HMAS Leeuwin was one such place where abuse within the Australian Defence Force occurred.
Victims of abuse here experienced physical and sexual abuse, perpetrated by their peers and seniors.
The culture of abuse and intimidation caused the suffering of many navy recruits. Such abuses included oral sex, rape, and bastardisation. Junior recruits were forced to rape each other.
Australian Air Force Abuse
The Royal Commission heard the ‘non-fraternisation’ policy within the Air Force wasn’t taken seriously. Witness CJJ told the commission that even though she reported a cadet instructor, he wasn’t spoken to.
He went on to have sexual relationships with underage victims.
The non-fraternisation policy wasn’t strictly enforced by the Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC).
In the case of Eleanore Tibble, the impact of non-fraternisation policy caused her to commit suicide. Eleanore was fifteen when the Air Force told her to resign over an inappropriate relationship with an instructor. If she didn’t resign she would be dishonourably discharged.
Eleanore wasn’t told the Air Force had abandoned the discharge action and committed suicide believing she would be discharged.
*These were the allegations submitted to consultants DLA Piper for the independent review of sexual abuse within the defence force after the 2011 Skype Incident.
If you have been abused while working for the Australian Defence Force, please fill out the ADF Claimant Information Sheet.