Australia – External legal review of allegations of abuse in Defence


The Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith MP, announced on 11 April 2011 an external legal review of the large number of allegations of sexual or other forms of abuse that have been raised since the recent Australian Defence Force Academy incident.

The external legal review is being conducted by the law firm DLA Piper (formerly DLA Phillips Fox). The Review team is led by DLA Piper Special Counsel, Dr Gary Rumble, assisted by former Commonwealth Ombudsman and DLA Piper Special Counsel, Professor Dennis Pearce AO, and by partner Melanie McKean.

The Review team will make an initial legal assessment of all complaints and allegations raised with the office of the Minister for Defence, the Department of Defence, or reported in the media since 1 April 2011 to put the Government in a position to make further decisions about how to deal with these matters.

The Attorney General’s Department and the Ombudsman’s office support this process.

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 17 June 2011.

The Minister also requests community associations and Australian media outlets that may have been notified of complaints or allegations to provide any information about those matters which they can reveal to the review by 17 June 2011.

To lodge an allegation for review, contact DLA Piper on 1800 424 991 Monday to Friday between 2 pm and 9 pm (AEST) or email gary.a.rumble@dlaphillipsfox.com or melanie.c.mckean@dlaphillipsfox.com.

It is important that persons wishing to provide information on a confidential basis contact the review team before they submit the information to discuss options for doing so.

Defence has established support arrangements for people who are experiencing distress or otherwise feel that they require emotional support. Support is available to current and former Australian Defence Force and Australian Public Service personnel and their immediate families who raise or have raised allegations with the external review team. Details of the relevant support arrangements are available from the DLA Piper team and through internal Defence channels.

This external legal review process will continue until all matters raised in the period 1 April to 17 June 2011 have been assessed.

Media Contact:
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

Press release
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,
Canberra, Australia

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