Defence abuse response taskforce: final report
The Taskforce was established on 26 November 2012 to assist complainants who had suffered sexual abuse, physical abuse, sexual harassment and workplace harassment and bullying in Defence prior to 11 April 2011. Ministers have recently extended the operation of the Taskforce from 1 April to 30 June 2016.
This Report – the Taskforce’s twelfth and final Report – does two things. It records the work completed since 1 July 2015 in accordance with the Amended Terms of Reference dated June 2015 and the further Amended Terms of Reference issued on 11 November 2015 and is to be read in conjunction with the Taskforce’s other principal Reports.
This Report also:
- contains some further analysis of Taskforce data as at 31 March 2016
- assesses the implications of its work as part of Defence’s ongoing improvements to its culture and practices, and
- sets out some concluding reflections about the Taskforce’s experience and findings over the last three years.
At the outset, it is important to make clear that the Taskforce accepted allegations of abuse that were within scope and plausible. The Taskforce does not have any powers of investigation as they were not necessary for its purpose, that is, to provide redress to persons plausibly abused in Defence.
It follows that none of the allegations accepted by the Taskforce have been established to the higher standards of proof required for administrative action or disciplinary or criminal proceedings (balance of probabilities or beyond reasonable doubt).
The Taskforce received 2,439 complaints of which 1,751 were assessed as within scope and plausible. Subject to certain conditions, complainants could access up to five outcomes which were taken up as follows:
- a reparation payment (1,723 complainants at a total cost of $66.63 million)
- counselling (577 complainants)
- participation in the Restorative Engagement Program (715 complainants)
- referral to police for possible criminal investigation and prosecution (133 complainants), and
- referral to the Chief of the Defence Force for consideration of possible administrative or disciplinary action (132 complainants).
Detailed statistics in regard to each outcome are set out in the relevant part of Section 1 of this Report.
Because the Taskforce’s purpose was to assist complainants, the selection of outcomes was entirely a matter for the individual complainant. So, for example, irrespective of the Taskforce’s views about the strength of a complainant’s allegations, a complaint would not be referred to police or the Chief of the Defence Force without the complainant’s consent or support.