Back when Peter McCann first advised us of his successful claim to the Defence Force Ombudsman, Roger Simmons asked the very reasonable question: ‘Very, very interesting. I am not sure how it affects us overseas students.’ The news, I’m afraid, is not good.
Advice by email from the office of the Ombudsman is that: ‘The Ombudsman can receive a report of serious abuse in Defence by a reportee who was, at the time the abuse is alleged to have occurred:
A member of the Australian Defence Force, or
An Australian Public Service employee deployed outside of Australia, or
A Defence contractor engaged to provide services outside Australia, either in connection with an operation of the Defence Force or for the purpose of capacity building or peacekeeping functions by the Defence Force.’
This advice was reiterated during a later telephone conversation with a different Liaison Officer. She further advised that abuse by a non-Australian member was also not covered, so if you’re considering submitting a report please note that proviso. A couple of other points she made:
- Firstly, DART has closed down, so all reports are dealt with by the Defence Ombudsman. I got the impression that they were mainly concerned with very serious abuses (sexual and/or injury), and that the threshold may have been raised, but that’s just my reading between the lines.
- Secondly, there is a process time frame of about 8 months.
Frank Edwards (who served as CO/CI of CSC) and Maurie Meecham (who served as DMA) weren’t able to shed any light on whether NZ cadets had a special status that might render them as being in the Australian Army. That seems to be a forlorn hope, although the task has been passed to Tony McLeod to chase up from the Shaky Isles end. Frank’s reply, which he noted was his opinion, was consistent with Maurie’s response and is as follows:
‘Firstly, all authority must stem from the regulations or legislation that established DART and the Ombudsman role in it. Their answer says only ADF members (as we were as cadets) are covered. They would have no reason not to be accurate in their response.
Secondly, the status of the NZ Cadets. I had NZ Cadets (and other foreign nationals) at both OCS (when I was SI Field Training) and at RMC. They were never members of the ADF. As I recall, they were posted to the NZ High Commission Defence Staff (for duty RMC as students). The NZ Defence Adviser at the High Commission was their “legal” Commanding Officer in Australia. When Boards of Studies made recommendations on repeat or removal of a NZ cadet it went as advice to the NZ DA (with some involvement of the NZ Exchange Instructor). An official NZ response would come quickly and then be acted on (they rarely questioned any recommendation). I recall this process being used while I was at Portsea but do not recall seeing it used while CO CSC (generally all NZ cadets who got to RMC were pretty good as they had done a lot of pre-training in NZ). I recall that there was an arrangement that placed them under command for discipline etc, but “admin” remained the responsibility fo the NZ Exchange Officer and Warrant Officer at RMC (leave, travel etc). For example, I recall that their leave applications for term breaks went to the NZ Instructor whereas all Australian Cadets applications came to me. You would also recall they had different conditions of service back in our day (pay, leave travel, right to own vehicles in 2nd Class etc).
As an aside, I served at HQ ADF on DGJOP staff as SO1 Land Operations when a number of AS/NZ combined force operational responses were planned. A sticking point with every Australian JF Commander was the status of command of the NZ component of the JF. NZ never relinquished national command authority and reserved the right of veto over any order or activity that involved NZ defence force members. While the NZ component was “embedded”, they always remained under national command. I suspect similar provisions were contained in whatever agreement covered cadets.’
So, although our Kiwi colleagues underwent the same regime, it seems they will not have access to the same means of redress.
I’ll post this on both the Class of 72 FB page, and on the website.