The Department of Defence says it acknowledges failures in adequately handling sexual misconduct incidents and is committed to doing better.
All allegations of sexual misconduct are treated seriously and a number of pathways have been established to help members receive support and report such incidents, the department said in a statement on Thursday.
“Defence acknowledges our previous failures to adequately handle sexual misconduct incidents … (and) is committed to doing better,” the statement said.
“Since 2012, Defence has established several pathways to address both current and historic sexual misconduct complaints in the Australian Defence Force.”
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The statement encourages members who have experienced sexual misconduct to report the incident either through the military policy, state and territory police, the Australian Federal Police or through their chain of command.
“Defence imposes strong reporting obligations on its people, while enabling victims to have confidential conversations with support services and close friends,” the department said.
“Defence encourages its people, who become aware of an alleged sexual misconduct, to report the incident immediately through established reporting processes.
“Commanders and managers have an obligation to report sexual offences to the military police.”
Disciplinary or administrative action in addition to criminal charges will be considered if the alleged perpetrator is a member of the ADF, the department said.
“Where sexual offence allegations are made, the victim’s preferences to take action are given significant consideration,” it said.
Individuals accused of misconduct will also be entitled to support while the matter is investigated and are entitled to the presumption of innocence, the department added.
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