Canberra: In its latest measure to reform the nation’s military culture and make it more comfortable for women, Australian government apologised to the victims of ‘physical, mental and sexual abuse’, who were meted out mistreatment of any sort over last six decades.
Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith made the apology in Parliament on behalf of the government saying, "I deliver an apology on behalf of the government to the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have suffered sexual or other forms of abuse".
Assuring that more steps would be taken to ensure that sexual, physical and mental abuse don’t get repeated, he said that any form of abuse in Australian military was not “acceptable”.
He noted claims that officers had abused their positions of trust through their own behavior or by turning a blind eye to the actions of others.
"You should never have experienced this abuse. Again, I say sorry."
Smith also announced that retired judge Len Roberts-Smith had been appointed to examine allegations of abuse.
The apology came after a probe revealed more than 1,000 claims of abuse dating from the 1950s to the present day, alleged by men and women who served in Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The investigation is conducted by a law firm DLA Piper, which is working on more than 1000 allegations of abuse.
These include 24 rape claims in the late 1990s and allegations teenage boys were abused at a naval training base in Western Australia in the 1960s and 1970s.
A preliminary review of these allegations by a law firm found that 750 were "plausible," Smith said.
The three-month inquiry could result in compensation of up to $52,000 for each victim and the alleged perpetrators being referred to criminal authorities for prosecution.
The most recent case that triggered the investigation referred to a women Australian cadet’s complain according to which a fellow cadet had secretly filmed a sexual encounter between the pair and broadcast it to their colleagues at the Australian military officer training academy.
With Agency Inputs