Australia makes public apology to military abuse victims

Australia makes public apology to military abuse victims

The Australian government today made a parliamentary apology to the victims of sexual and other abuse in the country's armed forces and set up a compensation fund for them.

The public apology was made in the Parliament by Defence Minister Stephen Smith who also announced setting up of an independent task force to assess every allegation of abuse made by individuals.

"Young men and women have endured sexual, physical or mental abuse from their colleagues. And to those men and women who have suffered such forms of abuse, on behalf of the government I say sorry," Smith told Parliament, 'The Australian' reported.

"You should have never experienced this abuse as such experiences have a lasting, traumatic and adverse impact on the people," the Minister said.
The Australian Defence Minister was unsparing on top military brass who occupied positions of trust saying they had "turned a blind eye to such abuses which was not acceptable".

The minister also acknowledged the "shameful" Skype sex scandal at Australian Defence Forces Academy (ADFA) where a video of a female cadet having consensual sex with a male cadet was streamed on the Internet without her knowledge.

Smith announced setting up of a judicial probe headed by former West Australian Supreme Court judge Len Roberts Smith to determine the victims who qualify for compensation of up to USD 52,000.

Some of the most serious allegations of the abuse include the claims of 24 rapes allegedly occurred at ADFA in the 1990s, and which may have been covered up or not properly investigated.