The first report, Defence’s policies for receiving and responding to reports of abuse, examines current Defence policies and procedures for the reporting and management of abuse. This report focuses on Defence’s documentation in this area; subsequent reports will examine how the policies and procedures are applied in practice.
“For the most part, I am satisfied that Defence now has appropriate written policies and procedures in place for Defence personnel to report abuse, and for those who receive reports of abuse to know what is required of them” Mr Manthorpe said.
“However I have made six recommendations in relation to the consistency and coherence of policies and procedures to assist in continuous improvement in this area.”
The Ombudsman welcomed Defence’s response to the report.
The second report, Overview of the Defence abuse reporting function by the Defence Force Ombudsman, provides detailed information about how the Ombudsman’s Office has administered its Defence abuse reporting functions.
This report highlights that the Office continues to receive reports of serious physical or sexual abuse in the Defence Force. Most of the reports pertain to historic abuse, and the evidence drawn from the reports does not suggest that there are now systemic or highly concentrated locations of abuse in the way in which this was manifest in earlier decades. Nevertheless, the report reinforces the importance of Defence maintaining vigilance in this area.
The second report also contains statistical information about the reports of abuse, and the steps that have been taken by the Ombudsman’s Office and Defence to respond to these. This includes recommendations to Defence to pay $15m to over 300 Defence members or former members.
“I am pleased that my Office has been able to assist some hundreds of Defence abuse survivors to have their voices heard, and receive financial or other acknowledgement for their experiences. The work is not completed, we continue to seek to provide a trauma-informed, professional service to those who contact us,” Mr Manthorpe said.
Both reports can be read on the Commonwealth Ombudsman website here.
Source: Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Australia