Australian military sorry for soldiers who suffered sexual abuse

By SID ASTBURY | Deutsche Presse-Agentur | Published: November 26, 2012

SYDNEY -- Australia's military Monday apologized to victims of sexual, physical or mental abuse during their time in the armed forces and set up a fund to compensate them.

An independent report released earlier this year detailed more than 700 claims of abuse going back as far as 1960.

The report was commissioned after the so called "Skype scandal" last year in which a cadet filmed himself having sex with a female colleague and streamed the video to other male cadets.

The military was criticized for not regarding the complaint from the female cadet with sufficient seriousness.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith delivered a formal apology in parliament and ordered compensation payments of up to 50,000 Australian dollars (51,500 US dollars) for those who could prove their claims.

"That's appropriate," Smith said. "If any organization sees on its watch inappropriate behavior or bad conduct, in the end there is a price to pay."

Defense Force chief General David Hurley, in a video message to all Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, accepted the shortcomings of himself and predecessors.

"The number, nature and range of allegations demonstrates that some members of the ADF have failed to understand the responsibility that rank imposes, that rank is a privilege and not a license for domineering, belittling or predatory behavior," he said.

"Some have failed to accept that diversity, diversity of age, gender, race, culture and experience is a strength in the ADF that needs to be built upon and not torn down."


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