The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has a proud history of immediate and responsive military service, protecting the nation from the sky.
With over 18,000 cadets and 18 RAAF bases Australia-wide, the Air Force consider themselves swift, decisive, resilient and respected.
However, there’s a dark culture of bullying, harassment and sexual abuse plaguing the Australian Defence Force. The Air Force is part of the problem.
A “non-fraternisation” policy was placed to prevent cadets and Air Force personnel from interacting with each other in an unprofessional manner. The Royal Commission heard the policy wasn’t taken seriously and considered a “joke” to cadets – encouraging off-limits sexual activities and institutional abuse to occur.
A witness known as CJF told the Royal Commission cadets weren’t allowed to touch each other and had to keep a “blue book” distance.
“We had to maintain blue book distance. We would hit each other with a book because that was maintaining blue book distance,” she said.
CJF joined the Air Force in 1999 when she was just 13-years-old. She told the Commission her adult superiors didn’t follow the non-fraternisation policy and when she was 17-years-old, she had a sexual relationship with one of her navy cadet instructors.
Later, CJF reported the cadet instructor but he wasn’t spoken to and he continued to have sexual relationships with underage victims.
The non-fraternisation policy wasn’t strictly enforced by the Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC). However, the rule was used on multiple occasions to humiliate and manipulate young cadets.
In the case of Eleanore Tibble, the impact of non-fraternisation policy caused her to commit suicide.
*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.