New sex scandals hit Australia’s military forces

Australia’s defence forces have been hit by several scandals, prompting wide-ranging reviews

12 January 2012 Last updated at 10:37

Australia’s military has been hit by more sex scandals, after a local news channel obtained documents under freedom of information laws.

The documents detail “serious breaches of discipline”, including allegations of sexual assault, child pornography, rape and drug-dealing.

Channel Seven said over 100 incidents had been reported in the last year.

The Australian Defence Force said in a statement it had “responded promptly to these incidents”.

“Defence has no tolerance for misconduct or security breaches,” the statement said, adding that “it had referred “criminal matters to relevant civil authorities”.
‘Hot Issues Briefs’

This is the latest in a string of allegations of abusive and sexist behaviour in the ranks of the Australian Defence Force.

A review by Australia’s human rights commissioner in November said women in Australia’s top military academy faced “widespread low-level sexual harassment” – although the review said conditions had improved over the last decade.

The review was ordered in the wake of a sex scandal at the Canberra-based Australian Defence Force Academy where two cadets were accused of secretly filming a female cadet having sex and broadcasting it on the internet.

The latest set of documents, known as Hot Issues Briefs, was retrieved after a freedom of information request by the Channel Seven News network.

The most common complaint was sexual assault, with more than a dozen cases reported over an eight-month period, Australian media reports say. Many of the allegations involved the Navy, where misconduct on four warships is apparently being investigated.

One case involves a senior officer on the HMAS Success who reportedly video-taped sexual encounters with junior officers.

Seven months earlier on the same ship, a female sailor said she had been assaulted during a port visit to Singapore.

A report last year found that sailors aboard the HMAS Success engaged in “predatory” behaviour and drunken misconduct.

Seven News also said the document contained “a handful of child porn charges, drug dealing and rape allegations,” AFP reported.

One review is already being conducted into the treatment of women throughout the Australian military which will be completed in 2012.

A separate review, ordered by the Department of Defence, has received more than 1,000 allegations of abuse, ABC News reported late last year.

Reviews have also been ordered into the use of alcohol and social media in the military.

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