Defence force weathers sex abuse storm

THE Australian Defence Force has attempted to weather the impending storm caused by allegations it is still mishandling sexual abuse, with a spokesman saying the ADF's top priority was "to do no further harm" to victims.

The comments from the ADF on Monday came ahead of ABC's Four Corner's airing of a report overnight that suggested the military was still failing to properly deal with allegations of abuse.

A witness tells Four Corners reporter Michael Brissenden how two women were raped in her year when she was a cadet.

She said: "I think that ADFA (Australian Defence Force Academy) doesn't deserve women enrolling if they're not going to treat their women right.

"They're losing an asset, they're losing great people.

"It's not the women's fault, it's all the men."

The witness tells how after she complained about their behaviour, they attempted to hit her with a glass but struck her sister instead.

"These were meant to be leaders, these were meant to be the people who make the biggest moral decisions over life and death and they're glassing someone at a bar?

"That's not a defence force I would want to be in."

The independent taskforce looking into all the reported incidents has handed more than 60 allegations to police and identified the alleged abusers, but it is unclear if it is capable of dealing with the perpetrators.

An ADF spokesman said Defence would take action when there was "sufficient information".

"Central to the Defence response is respect for the complainants' wishes and interests, a responsibility to do no further harm, and the requirement to provide procedural fairness."

In March, the Australian Human Rights Commission released its review into how women were treated in the ADF - its recommendations were almost all adopted.

Sex Descrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said at the time, victims were not reporting misconduct because those who did were "retraumatised" by the process.

Ms Broderick said the culture of change at the ADF would fail without the influence of male leaders.


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