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Government brings in law firm

to probe defence abuse

May 21, 2011 – 6:56AM

The government has commissioned a law firm to conduct an external review of allegations of sexual and other abuse of past and present defence force members, some dating back decades.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the review would be conducted by the law firm DLA Piper (formerly DLA Phillips Fox).

It will make an initial legal assessment of all complaints and allegations of abuse raised with the defence minister’s office, Defence Department or reported in the media since April 1.

Mr Smith said that would put the government in a position to make further decisions about how to deal with these matters.

“Current and former Defence personnel (including members of the Australian Defence Force) may make or refer allegations relating to sexual or other forms of abuse in Defence to the review until June 17,” he said in a statement.

The review is one of a series launched in response to allegations of misbehaviour at the Australian Defence Force Academy in which one cadet filmed himself having sex with a female cadet and streamed the imagery to fellow cadets in another room.

That prompted an outpouring of other claims of abuse and misconduct in the force.

Mr Smith called on community associations and media organisations notified of complaints or allegations to provide the review with details by June 17.

He said it was important that anyone wishing to provide confidential information should first contact the review team before submitting the information.

The review is being led by DLA Piper special counsel Dr Gary Rumble, assisted by former Commonwealth Ombudsman and DLA Piper special counsel Professor Dennis Pearce and by partner Melanie McKean.

DLA Piper can be contacted on             1800 424 991       or by email at gary.a.rumble@dlaphillipsfox.com or melanie.c.mckean@dlaphillipsfox.com.

Mr Smith said Defence had established support arrangements for those experiencing distress or who felt they need emotional support.

That’s available to current and former Defence force members and to public service personnel and their immediate families who raise or have raised allegations with the external review team.

AAP 

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