SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia should hold a public inquiry into abuse at a prestigious military academy, a long-awaited report into disturbing mistreatment within the defence force found Wednesday.
Chair of the investigating taskforce Len Roberts-Smith said two reports tabled in parliament contained “shocking accounts of abuse suffered by people who have served in defence”.
One report into abuse at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra recommended a major formal public inquiry examining allegations from its inception to the present day.
“… the only way of ensuring confidence that the allegations of very serious abuse at ADFA can be thoroughly and completely investigated – and appropriately dealt with – is by way of a royal commission,” Roberts-Smith said.
Roberts-Smith said complaints about ADFA dated from its inception in 1986 when it was opened to provide undergraduate education and military training to midshipmen and officer cadets.
The taskforce reported a disturbingly high incidence of sexual abuse of female cadets at the academy during the 1990s while the defence force, in a number of cases, did not take appropriate disciplinary, administrative or management action, the report said.
It added that it was aware of at least 13 individuals allegedly responsible for sexual abuse at ADFA in the 1990s who were still serving.