Defence issues new statement about sexual misconduct

By Tom Ravlic

July 22, 2022

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The ADF constantly looks for ways to amplify soldier performance. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The Australian Defence Force has issued a statement on how it deals with sexual misconduct, and it includes acknowledgement of previous failures in handling inappropriate behaviour.

It says that the ADF has established a range of methods by which people in the defence forces are able to report new or historic cases of sexual misconduct.

The ADF uses the term ‘sexual misconduct’ to describe the full spectrum of “unwanted and unwelcome sexualised behaviours” whereas other agencies use terms like “sexual harassment” and “sexual assault”.

“Defence has established systems, training and processes to educate our people and seek to prevent sexual misconduct. Defence maintains a victim-centric, trauma-informed approach to support individuals to report sexual misconduct,” the statement says.

“Defence continually reviews its policies and processes to minimise the risk of incidents and maintain a trauma‑informed approach to managing sexual misconduct.”

The statement says the ADF has the objective of creating an environment where people feel they are able to report incidents of inappropriate behaviour within the ranks.

“Any ADF member who experiences sexual misconduct is strongly encouraged and supported to report the incident,” it says.

“Victims who wish to report an incident have a range of options, including direct engagement with state or territory police, or the Australian Federal Police, independent of Defence. Victims can also choose to report to Defence through the military police, or their chain of command.”

The statement notes that there are several pathways for a victim of sexual misconduct to have matters investigated, with both military and civilian options available where allegations of a sexual offence are made.

“Where sexual offence allegations are made, the victim’s preferences to take action are given significant consideration. If the victim chooses to report to civilian police, Defence will support them to do so and will assist with any investigation,” the statement says.

“If the victim requests military police to investigate, military police can and will investigate in accordance with Commonwealth and/or ACT legislation. Where an offence occurs overseas, and Defence has jurisdiction, military police have carriage of such matters.”

A decision to take a sexual offence matter through the military discipline regime will be decided by the independent director of military prosecutions.


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