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Defence's abuse review criticised by prosecutor

Date

David Ellery

The Australian Defence Force's chief prosecutor Lyn McDade.

The Australian Defence Force's chief prosecutor Lyn McDade. Photo: Cynthia Banham

The Australian Defence Force's senior prosecutor has told a Senate inquiry the DLA Piper review of allegations of sexual and other abuse in Defence achieved little and ignored the real issue.

''In all likelihood the allegations [made to the DLA Piper law firm] will include a number of matters that were appropriately dealt with by either a service tribunal or managed within Defence and the complainant is simply disgruntled with the outcome,'' Brigadier Lyn McDade wrote.

Her submission, to the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade references committee, was lodged on November 22 - just four days before Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Chief of Defence Force General David Hurley apologised to victims of sexual and other forms of abuse in the military.

Commodore Bruce Kafer.

Commodore Bruce Kafer. Photo: Supplied

Mr Smith also announced an independent taskforce, headed by Len Roberts-Smith, QC, to review complaints dating back to the 1950s that had been forwarded to DLA Piper by more than 1000 people.

Major General Roberts-Smith is a former military judge, a former justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and the former commissioner of the WA Corruption and Crime Commission. He is also the father of Victoria Cross winner Ben Roberts-Smith.

Brigadier McDade said that in addition to the complaints by ''disgruntled'' individuals, others would have been lodged by people who had not reported the alleged abuses at the time.

''There will be other matters that were not reported by the complainant and consequently did not come to the attention of the relevant authority,'' she wrote.

Brigadier McDade defended the ''sufficiency'' of mechanisms in place to provide support to victims of sexual and other abuse.

''I see little value in establishing a victims' advocacy service,'' she said. ''It has been my experience that both the complainant and, indeed, the accused are well supported.

''The real issue is the need to clearly define the jurisdiction of the ADF Investigation Service in relation to investigations. At present there is a dual approach with some matters investigated by ADFIS and others by civilian police. Investigations by civilian police invariably result in prosecutions by civilian prosecuting authorities. Clearly such an outcome defeats the accepted objective of enforcing and maintaining service discipline.''

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