Australia apologises for sex abuse in military

This post relates to the my previous post relating to the abuse of people via telephone.

For the abuse suffered, as I have read, occurred due to the actions of a radio station who apparently promoted
its staff illegally to Constitutional Monarchs in order to make a phone call with the express aim of circumventing, illegally, privacy.

And I recounted the experience I had in the 1990s as a government employee who take a phone call from a women which she made under duress. (She was being beaten by a man who obviously wanted to gain her private information – I could hear the beating going on). On reporting the phone to higher ups in the government office, I was told not to worry “They (customers of the government) are like that.”

I disagreed and spent 2 hour fruitlessly trying to obtain assistance for the assault victim and to get action taken against the assailant who, as well as committing assault was breaching the Federal Crimes Act and Privacy Act. In a slightly different manner to 2Day FM but the same moral coda and laws were being breached.

Prior to this, my second stint in that government office, I was treated to a group training session in which the need to keep things which happened within the office secret from the public. Such as abuse and harassment.

The leader/trainer gave the example of the Australian Army. The trainer put to the group that it would be against all the norms and discipline of the Australian Army if a soldier who suffered abuse went public. The soldier would be doing the wrong thing we were told. Various newbies put their point of view, saying yes, the Australian Army would fix it up and that to blacken the name of the Army for the sake of an individual with a grievance would be wrong.

In fact at the time a former military college member had gone public with his story of abuse at the college, and the group thought the man had acted badly by complaining in the media to the Australian community.

I was the only former soldier present at this training session. I had never been subject to illegal acts in my time in the Army, though I had heard about such. Mainly at Officer training facilities where newbies with no army experience though there had merely transferred to Lethal High School. Actually, people at the base were I was located, due to the secure nature of my work, secluded from the main tank rebuild workshop etc sort of wondered WTF and left me alone. But I was in a technical unit and facility and we were all geeks. It was a bit different.

I gave my point of view. The Australian Army is part of the Australia community and has to abide by both military and civil law. And if civil law has been broken then a soldier (or any arm or service) has every right to to access whatever redress they choose. That is their right as service personnel and as Australians. It is their right because members have died in past conflicts ensuring such right remain alive in Australia.

At the group meeting I raised my personal knowledge of infantry members at Pukka handing themselves – there was a spate of that at the time I was in basic training learning how to throw grenades and waste ammo at Kapooka.

Well, did I get in the shit at those remarks. For in addition I said, had those people who hung themselves had equal access to redress and support and community awarenes, and community standards and legal standards of treatment, they would have lived to make it to Vietnam. Most of the victims were National Servicemen.

And I must admit that the woman who was the trainer at the training session who was trying to train me out of adherence of community standards and legal standards and into departmental PR standards was giving me the shits. She may have merely been following orders, but as explained to me in my NCO course in the Army, an illegal command must not be followed. It may well be in breach of Nuremberg Principles and is a breach of military law. Anyway, over thirty years after the hangings at Pukka and over 10 years since my newbie departmental training in surrendering my rights as an Australian, we have this:

The West Australian Newspaper
Updated November 26, 2012, 1:19 pm

Australia apologises for sex abuse in military


Photo illustration. The Australian government has made a parliamentary apology to victims of abuse in the military and set up a compensation fund after allegations of rape and sexual assault.

SYDNEY (AFP) – The Australian government on Monday made a parliamentary apology to victims of abuse in the military and set up a compensation fund after hundreds of claims of rape and sexual assault.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith also established an independent taskforce to individually assess each allegation uncovered by a report commissioned by the government last year.

The taskforce will be able to refer appropriate matters to police for formal criminal investigation, while offering victims help in accessing counselling, health, and other services.

“Young men and women have endured sexual, physical or mental abuse from their colleagues which is not acceptable and does not reflect the values of a modern, diverse, tolerant Australian society,” Smith told parliament.

“Such experiences have had a lasting, serious, traumatic and adverse impact on the people who have experienced them.”

In his statement, Smith lashed out at senior military figures who occupied positions of trust and who “abused that trust through their behaviour, including through the turning of a blind eye”.

“Today’s men and women of the Australian Defence Force or the Department of Defence who have suffered sexual or other abuse, on behalf of the government I say sorry,” he said.

“You should never have experienced this abuse. Again, I say sorry.”

A capped compensation fund was set up with the taskforce, headed by former West Australian Supreme Court judge Len Roberts-Smith, to determine who qualifies for payouts of up to Aus$50,000 (US$52,000).

The move follows an independent report sparked by the so-called Skype scandal in 2011, when footage of a young male recruit having sex with a female classmate was streamed online to cadets in another room without her knowledge.

The report detailed 24 allegations of rape that never went to trial, among more than 1,000 claims of sexual or other abuse from the 1950s to the present day, involving both men and women.

As well as the rape claims, it said that “from the 1950s through to the early 1980s, many boys aged 13, 14, 15 and 16 years of age in the defence force suffered abuse including serious sexual and other physical abuse”.

Until the 1960s, boys as young as 13 were recruited into the Navy, while 15-year-olds were accepted into the Army, Navy and Air Force up until the early 1980s. The minimum enlisting age is now 17.

The report also highlighted brutal initiation ceremonies and depicted a culture in the military of covering up, failing to punish perpetrators and hostility towards victims who complained.

Smith said the Defence Force would bear the financial burden of any compensation, with military and government officials “committed to zero tolerance in the future”.

“Acknowledging the past and taking responsibility for it is only the first step,” he said.

“We must ensure that such abuse can never be tolerated again.”

Defence Force chief General David Hurley also apologised, saying he recognised “the damage and suffering that has been caused to some”.

“The Australian Defence Force has begun addressing these causes through its cultural reform programme,” he said.

“On behalf of the Australian Defence Force, I say that I am sorry to those who have suffered sexual, physical or mental abuse while serving.”

end quote.

I wonder myself WTF goes on today insight government workplaces where the norm is to turn a blind eye and indeed actively encourage perhaps, abuse of personnel.

Will it take another half century for the truth to emerge?

No matter where you work, and matter where you are in relation to government services whether you work in the paid workforce or not, it is not right for government in its quest for efficiency to forget its obligation to be effective. And that means both in terms of service delivery and treatment, every one is individual, everyone has rights and to appreciate and act upon this fact dipshits should be excluded from any position in government service where their prejudice against the people of Australia would lead them to say “Oh dont worry about it, give out the information – they are all like that – when in fact the Public Service Act, the Crimes Act and Common Law was being breached in the course of the traumatic phone call with the woman being beaten into revealing her pay day. Her call for help was ignored by government.

Sorry is not enough.

Paul Langley, reporting the facts as they occurred. How many times a day across the nation such things occur I have not the foggiest idea.

When a crime happens on a bus, should the driver join in, and should the facts remain within reported to the bus company only?

I met a warrior once. He was SAS. He was taking charge of the platoon at Kapooka temporarily for some reason or another. Apparently as crazy as a cut snake this guy’s outward appearance was irrelevant. His hands didn’t hold his weapon, his soul did. He’d been under fire and had fired back. In his eyes you could see his mission would be fulfilled regardless of whether or not his body and soul would be intact at the end of it.

Regardless. At the level of will, that was how he was. If, in civilian life, he found himself surrounded by status concious cretins unaware that they do not possess themselves, they would say he was the one needing help.

Humans are like icebergs. The largest part is invisible. For most people, even to themselves. Informed compassion exists in the Army. The tragic outcome of the decades of unactioned abuse in some military facilities is the weakening which resulted to those affected due to the suffering of their bodies and souls. Whereas any warrior knows it is the strengthening of the soul, not the breaking of it, which produces the whole person.

To the extent that the military failed to correct the serious misdeeds, and given the secrecy which was imposed for decades, and given that this model was, in the 1990s the model presented to newbie public servants, and given in the very recent past public servants quote military ethos instead public service ones, the abuse has spread. Every abuser who left the military would have had job offers of responsibility involving the management of people in civilian life.

And so the culture of abuser has I think spread throughout the workplaces of Australia. Which is not to say that the warrior,the real warrior, as a civilian, is not an asset. Of course they are. I am rather talking abusers who were once in uniform but who have demonstrated by their actions, that they were never ever warriors for they never knew their souls.

You don’t have to be a warrior to know your soul. It is but one way. There is not much difference between a warrior and a monk. In the true sense. Both live from their souls with an awareness of that fact. This has nothing to do with religion.

And so I urge 2Day FM to purge its abusers. Hopefully the Army will do the same and so achieve the full strength it must possess.

Soldiers do not start wars. Politicians do. It took the Liberal Party of Australia three goes, three begs, to the USA to allow it to send Australians conscripts – musicians, bricklayers, farmers, not warriors, to Vietnam.
Some came home with their souls detached. For they were never warriors and the experience dissociated them from their core.

Aided no doubt by that secret culture of abuse which existed and afflicted some of the officer corp. It weakened the Australian Army, and nobody knew.

In the 1990s newbie public servants were trained to keep the secret as it applied in that setting as it has existed in Duntroon. And the effects of that has turned, in the minds of some public servants I fear, the Australian public into the enemy. The false rationale for abuse in that setting is to “force self sufficiency” upon those in need, without providing the full means to do so. To strengthen a people, you do not oppress them. You liberate by assisting with both legal entitlement and the due respect which enables the connection between body and soul.

In London, a nurse, in response to Australian abuse, was in such distress her soul left, and went home. It is a tragic loss of life and an aborted mission this country should be ashamed of. The whole of Australia is not Duntroon.

2 Day FM abuses people to death. Commercial radio merely fights ratings wars which mean nothing. In a diminishing market, i guess they have the X force of abusive commandos who pretend to be what they are not in order to get money which is proportional to ratings.

Hardly a high calling. Taking deliberate aim at a friendly, and dialing the number.

The phone is a weapon. I don’t listen to commercial radio. It has no soul.

The atomic tests were so safe, the dosimeters were just thrown into a bucket with no names on. Perfectly safe. Not the authorities fault the veterans died and die and like flies. It was the petrol fumes in the desert.

“There must be something wrong with people who kill themselves” – An ex Airforce Officer to me in 2004. Yea, the abuse they suffer at the hands and tongue of likes of you, you prick. Old school, abusive, landed a plumb job, known bully. Though the place of higher learning he was at had a landing strip for F111’s. Wrong. Obey the law idiot.

People, including the Minister of Defence, is worried that the historic abusers may still be in the Australian Defence Forces, now in positions of authority, where, by their actions and attitude they continue to demolish rather than build up Australia’s Defence capability by creating, as it were, “friendly fire” damage to individual and institutions.

I have an evidenced based theory that many of these historic abusers, having risen to the ranks where at some point or another they were discovered, left and infected private industry.

Including the media.

So what cultural reality was really behind the tragedy of the hospital and to the total waste of a life?

There used to be a saying in Australia, and its still an unspoken, or rarely spoken one. “Toughen up, this is Australia”. Mainly aimed at sophisticated new arrivals to this country, it is rarely spoken now. It remains an unspoken attitude though, one in which the historic abusers perpetuate where ever they are.

And it has infected young ignorant radio announcers tasked to get ratings even if it kills them, or their victims.

The community in in a democracy is not “the Big Brother Household”. Noone has the power to vote anyone out of the house of this or any other nation. Not the least an innocent nurse in London.

The actions which led to the outcome would not have been carried out by anyone with any sense of informed compassion.

Further, the imperative to keep breaches of the law within both armed (military) and unarmed sections of Australia’s government service agencies is driven from the top and inculcated into subordinates, denying them, and the Australian voters from full awareness and creating isolated victims due to corrupt and illegal practices for which there is no identified community awareness of the need of political and cultural action.

Australia in this regard is very weak, and should toughen, weeding out those moral cowards who cannot adhere to the law. Why else did it take decades to acknowledge the systemic abuse which exists in the armed services? It also exists in the unarmed services.

It is part and parcel of the dynamic which leads to the denial of victims including nuclear victims and the denial of justice for them.

There has been, in my experience, a profound misuse of public service provisions to keep breaches of the law “in house”, on the bus, as it were, within the bus company. The customers not only pay for the fare, but for the crimes.

Back in the 1990s, at that training sessions, the public service trainer used the example of a military illegal order to justify an imposition of curtailment of free speech and openness in the civil service. Such actions enable corruption. And further, with such attitudes embedded throughout sections of government administration, it is not surprising that the military abuses against individuals, crimes, both decades old and new, took so long to be officially recognised, when in fact higher ups within the the Australian administration knew about them all the time, and in fact as late as the 1990s used such abuses in the military as a reason for civil servants to keep their mouths shut and simply follow orders. Specifically, when an illegal order is given there is a duty under the law NOT TO FOLLOW IT.

There is no excuse for the time it has taken for the Australian government to acknowledge that which it has always known.

As an ordinary trooper, the military academy in Canberra was known by me and all my compatriots, as a place of abuse. We knew before officers who had been there told us. That was 1971. It is my view that noone should be given officer status until they have served a period in the rank and file. As for the public service citing so-called military ethos, and it happens all the time, as if some dip shit middle manager was on the front line in WW2, well, it has to stop. Toughen up, this is reality. Customers of the government are not the enemy, they are the paymasters.

All of this, the whole dynamic, applies to nuclear industry as displayed since March 2011.

I have only ever seen informed compassion in two workplaces, the Australian Army – where the whole point was to train people to survive as long as possible under combat, and at the homeless shelter.

“We are from the government, we are here to help” – 1950.

“We are from the government, we are here for ourselves” – today

“We are from the media, and we can pretend to be the Queen, we dont give shit about the consequences” – 2Day FM. and other hack outlets.

as the reader can see, my life experiences create a tension between myself and other anti nukers. The commonality is the awareness that nuclear industry is part of the military complex, and that is way it gets more government handouts than a zillion pensioners.

2 Responses to “Australia apologises for sex abuse in military”

  1. Brett Stokes Says:


    Thanks for this.

    I agree with what you say – the old school blazer wearing bullying management style is rampant in the private sector in Australia and in universities and in our parliaments – and it is a curse.

    Perhaps Duntroon (Australia’s army officer training centre in Canberra) is the source of much of this bullying culture.

    As per previous comments, I have observed bullying behaviour by local pro nuclear people.

    Thanks again Paul for this useful piece of analysis.

  2. CaptD Says:

    Bullying in all forms should be made “unlawful”, that is the solution to this age old problem that continue to curse our societies!

    Salute for yet another great article!

    I’d be proud to serve with you…

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