‘Don’t recall seeing any actual results’: Alleged military abusers might still be serving
Commissioners at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide say there have been difficulties pinning down whether the dozens of alleged abusers have been dealt with.
Normal text sizeVery large text sizeAdvertisementCommissioners at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide say there have been difficulties determining whether dozens of alleged abusers are still serving in the military and if their cases have been dealt with.
The former chair of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART), Major-General Leonard Roberts-Smith, told the hearing the taskforce had in the past decade found dozens of alleged incidents of abuse that were referred to police of the Chief of Defence, but he never heard of the outcomes.
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Normal text size Very large text size Advertisement Commissioners at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide say there have been difficulties determining whether dozens of alleged abusers are still serving in the military and if their cases have been dealt with. The former chair of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART), Major-General Leonard Roberts-Smith, told the hearing the taskforce had in the past decade found dozens of alleged incidents of abuse that were referred to police of the Chief of Defence, but he never heard of the outcomes. Ben Shields, who served on the council for two decades, was charged on Tuesday over an allegation he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man in January 2003, when the councillor was 22. Commission chair Nick Kaldas said the commission had experienced “difficulties pinning down” what happened to the alleged cases of abuse found by the taskforce, particularly ones referred to police. AP For the first time, a slim majority of Australians back making a military contribution to help the US defend Taiwan if China invades what it regards as a breakaway province. Kaldas said by his calculation at least about 72 cases found by the taskforce were referred to police for criminal investigation, another 47 were being considered, and about 64 were referred to the Chief of Defence for possible disciplinary action. Credit: Dominic Lorrimer NSW Police said they’d arrested a 41-year-old Dubbo man on Tuesday morning. At the time DART reported in November 2014, Roberts-Smith said the taskforce had identified at least 60 individuals from the 1980s to 2000s allegedly responsible for sexual and physical abuse, sexual harassment and bullying at the Australian Defence Force Academy who were still serving, either permanently or in the reserves.
Leonard Roberts-Smith speaking at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide in Townsville. He was given conditional bail to appear at Dubbo Local Court on August 22. Advertisement “Australia’s new government will find support for more defence spending, tough policies towards China and Russia, and stronger engagement in our region and on the world stage. He said at the time another 10 alleged abusers had been transferred to the inactive standby reserve. Roberts-Smith said in relation to the Defence Force, any information sought about how those matters were dealt with could “only come from within Defence through the Chief of Defence, and the service chiefs”. Shields served until last May, citing poor mental health after six councillors circulated a letter calling for his resignation in light of the allegations, a move Shields regarded as a “smear campaign”. “In relation to referrals to the police, we had actually entered into a protocol with all police services across Australia by which they agreed to accept referrals from the taskforce, which guided the way they were to interact with the taskforce,” Roberts-Smith said. As China duchesses Pacific nations for security agreements, most notably Solomon Islands , 88 per cent of people expressed alarm over the prospect of a Chinese military base in the region. Advertisement “Once a matter was referred to either the Chief of Defence . The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights.
.. Eighty-seven per cent of Australians do not trust China to act responsibly in world affairs, only topped by Russia at 94 per cent. or to a police agency, then how they dealt with it was entirely a matter for them. [The taskforce] had no authority.” Roberts-Smith said police had agreed to report back to the taskforce on a monthly basis about the referrals. Eleven per cent said they did trust him, a halving since 2020.
“But I don’t recall seeing any actual results in either of those respects, certainly not in my time at the taskforce,” he said. Roberts-Smith also told commissioners he was “disturbed” the DART 2014 report was not readily available online. When questioned by Commissioner Peggy Brown over how the issues raised in the royal commission could be rectified, Roberts-Smith recommended an abuse reporting system through the Defence Ombudsman, external to the Defence Force. Almost nine out of 10 people say they are concerned about China–Russia cooperation, while 92 per cent say the invasion is concerning. “I had discussions with the Ombudsman at the time about that, and he was quite receptive and prepared to support legislative change which would enable him to take on some of those responsibilities,” Roberts-Smith said. Loading “If there was to be some avenue for them to raise that without going through the chain of command or the other avenues which, for whatever reason they feel they may not be able to, it could be an avenue for them to go to the Defence Ombudsman not under the current regime .
. The turmoil is fuelling insecurity, with only 53 per cent saying they felt safe, a 17-point fall from 2021..” When asked by Brown whether it was “hard not to think that there was a fundamental failure by Defence” to protect victims of abuse, Roberts-Smith agreed. The royal commission continues. .