At least 12 people alleged to be responsible for sexual assaults on female cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy remain in the ADF, according to the latest report from the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce.
The taskforce was set up a year ago by the Gillard government in response to a review of allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence conducted by law firm DLA Piper.
The taskforce has received about 2400 complaints of abuse, some dating back to the 1950s. In its latest report, released on Friday, taskforce chairman Len Roberts-Smith, QC, reported on 24 cases of abuse allegedly committed between 1994 and 1998 at the Australian Defence Force Academy, which the government had asked it to examine as a matter of priority.
Mr Roberts-Smith found there had been no successful criminal prosecutions in relation to any of the so-called "ADFA 24" cases, and in most of them Defence had not taken appropriate disciplinary or administrative action.
The taskforce found Defence had "seriously mismanaged" allegations in some of the "ADFA 24" cases, which included 14 cases of alleged sexual assault and eight cases of alleged indecent assault.
The Gillard government had asked the taskforce to advise on whether a royal commission was necessary to get to the bottom of the 24 cases.
Mr Roberts-Smith said that while he hadn't reached a final conclusion, he believed a royal commission might not be appropriate because it would cause further harm to the alleged victims of abuse, seven of whom are still in the Defence Force.
He said the general aim of a royal commission was to address systemic issues, but the systemic issues underpinning the ADFA assaults had been well documented through other reviews. He said the identities of many of the suspected abusers were already known, and it was unlikely a royal commission would lead to criminal prosecutions because of the time that had elapsed since the alleged abuses.
The taskforce has recommended Defence consider taking further action in 13 of the ADFA cases.
Mr Roberts-Smith said he had asked Defence Minister David Johnston to extend the life of the taskforce, which is due to end in May next year, to the end of November 2014.
A spokeswoman for Senator Johnston said he was considering the request with Attorney-General George Brandis.
In its first year of operation, the taskforce has provided counselling to 43 complainants and made 161 reparation payments totalling more than $7 million.
It has referred 21 cases to state and territory police, including five to Victoria Police and three to the New South Wales Police Force.
It has referred three matters to the Chief of the Defence Force for consideration of administrative sanctions, and has facilitated 10 "restorative engagement" conferences. These are designed to provide complainants with the opportunity to have their stories heard, acknowledged and responded to by senior Defence leaders.