The Australian Army is 44,037 personnel strong across 60 Australian bases.
The institution offers young people gap year military opportunities, paid education, housing and ongoing training to become better people – better soldiers.
The Army should be considered a positive influence and a worthy career choice for thousands of young Australians.
However, the Australian Defence Force has a dark, torturous past with thousands of cadets facing bullying, sexual harassment, and physical abuse on a daily basis.
The most famous and disturbing case of abuse coming from the Royal Commission was that of CJU.
CJU entered the Army Apprentice School of Balcombe, Victoria in 1977 at the age of 16.
He was bullied and physically abused by senior recruits throughout his training. In 1978, CJU had his arm broken in a particularly brutal attack and reported the abuse to his Company Commander. He gave evidence in front of his perpetrators which caused the abuse to escalate.
The senior recruits stripped him naked and smeared Vegemite over his chest and genitals before introducing a dog to the situation. They called it “payback” for “dobbing them in” to the Commander.
CJU was both physically and mentally abused for reporting his broken arm.
For years, CJU lived in fear and faced multiple sexual assaults from civilians working on the base. After telling a Captain about the attacks, he was sexually abused by the Captain.
In 1989, CJU left the Australian Defence Force. He didn’t contact the Royal Commission until 2011 and admitted to “feeling like a prostitute” for seeking compensation at all.
More than anything, CJU wanted acknowledgement that the Army knew he was being abused and did nothing to protect or support him.
CJU has carried the heavy burden of abuse for 38 years. He has experienced rage, alcoholism and suicide attempts. He had no one to turn to.
He was let down by an institution which was obligated to protect him.
Unfortunately, this experience is shared by many Australian Defence Force recruits and cadets. Children as young as 13-years-old were mentally, physically, and sexually abused. They needed someone to protect them.
The Royal Commission made astounding progress in changing the way institutions handle instances of abuse. It’s time to speak up.
Read through our guide to reparation payments for victims of abuse in the Australian Defence Force, or download our ADF Guide To Compensation here.
Let us help you achieve justice.