For those not following our class Facebook page, Pete McCann has posted the message below:
This post is to make you aware, if you are not already, of the Defence Abuse Reparation Scheme (DART) which has opened up the possibility of getting reparations for the events of 1969 and before. This scheme is administered by the Defence Ombudsman and is set up to make reparations for the most serious forms of abuse and/or sexual assault in Defence. I considered that bastardisation was a serious form of abuse particularly considering that many of us were under 18 and therefore a minor. I have long been irked by the fact that Defence has never apologised for its actions. So, in February last year I wrote to the Ombudsman using the DART form which is on their website Defence.Ombudsman@ombudsman.gov.au. I didn’t shy away from naming names where necessary.
I gave the following examples of abuse:
– Multiple bathroom sessions, including one particularly abusive one at ANZAC Hall where I had a powerful hose directed on the family jewels while playing dead ants. These are important because, while not sexual per se, they involved performing humiliating acts such as bathroom “obstacle courses” while naked and introduced an element of indecency.
– Taking showers in uniform,
– Bullying and harassment in the Mess including sinker races, eating spoonfuls of Vegemite, square and/or submarine meals etc,
– Having the contents of my room thrown out the window for no reason,
– Being verbally abused by a drunk section commander (guess who?) inches from my face,
– Stealing food from the Mess under orders from the senior class.
I carefully left out anything that could be deemed educational or militarily necessary such as the screed test.
Factors that the Ombusman takes into account are:
– The age of the complainant,
– The position held by the alleged abuser(s),
– the duration of the abuse, and
– the gravity of the alleged conduct.
The Ombudsman assessed my submission as ” ..an ongoing campaign of bullying and harassment that included unlawful interference with an element of indecency.”
We are fortunate in a way that all this is documented in the initial Military investigation and the Fox Royal Commission.
There are 2 levels of reparation $20K and $50k. While the level of abuse in my case did not reach the $50K level because there was no sexual element or physical injury the Ombudsman considered it was a case of serious abuse and therefore met the $20K threshold. There is also a supplementary reparation of $5K if Defence knew about the abuse but did nothing about it. This was easily satisfied by directing the Ombudsman to the Commandant’s Directive that “fourth class training” was allowed but had to cease at the end of the first term due to problems they had experienced in 1968.
Defence have offered to conduct a formal session to offer a formal apology and counselling if needed but I decided not to take up the offer. just before Christmas I received $25K tax-free dollars.
If you feel strongly about this I would encourage you to apply and spread the word. You get a dedicated liaison officer who keeps you informed of progress along the way. I am happy to help if you need any assistance. It’s taken nearly 50 years!!
Due to the sensitive and confidential nature of his submission, that understandably won’t be made publicly available. Pete has, however, offered to provide assistance to anyone who is considering making an application.
A suggestion was made that a ‘class action’ could be mounted, but apparently that option is not available (subject to confirmation).