Survivors of ADF sexual abuse expose harrowing stories during inquiry

Day one of the official inquiry into sexual abuse within the ADF in Sydney yesterday has exposed more than anyone

Day one of the official inquiry into sexual abuse within the ADF in Sydney yesterday has exposed more than anyone can comprehend.

A royal commission has heard, cadets within the Australian Defence Force were raped and forced to have sex with each other, reports

The inquiry will examine the experiences of survivors of rape and abuse at Fremantle’s HMAS Leeuwin between 1960-1980, the Army Apprentice School Balcolme between 1970-1980 and within cadet ranks from 2000 to present.

So far, the commission has heard from 111 people who experienced physical, mental and sexual abuse within the ADF. Of those, 50 involved child abuse at HMAS Leeuwin and at Balcolme in Victoria.

Thirty people are expected to give evidence before commissioners Justice Peter McClellan, Robert Fitzgerald and Professor Helen Milroy.

This explosion of a story follows the establishment of a task force in 2012 to deal with as many as 2,400 historical complaints.

Graphic details of the cadets experiences were shared and one of them, who adopted the pseudonym CJA, joined the Navy at Leeuwin in 1967 before he was subjected to vicious and humiliating abuse said,
“On multiple occasions I was snatched in the middle of a night and dragged to a sports oval,” he said.

He was forced to perform oral sex and “other times I was forced to have anal intercourse with junior recruits or I was raped by another junior recruit who was directed to do so by the older recruits or base staff.”

Another victim was 16-year-old Eleanore Tibble who was just 14 years old when she joined the ADF in Hobart in 1999. She is no longer alive to tell her story but a counsel assisting the commission Angus Stewart SC said, Eleanore’s case would be an important backdrop to the commission’s investigation.

Eleanore’s mum, Susan Campbell, is expected to give evidence about how her daughter was engaged in a sexual relationship with a 30-year-old instructor.

It is alleged an officer told Eleanore she could either resign or be dishonourably discharged. Her mother says she took her own life in November, 2000, because the RAAF forgot to tell her it was not going to charge her.

Adair Donaldson, a lawyer acting for survivors, told ABC News he hoped the royal commission would lead to action.

“What we are going to hear is a number of courageous survivors who are prepared to tell their stories about the horror they experienced,” said Mr Donaldson.

“By telling their stories, they hope that they will make a difference for the future and that what they experienced will never be experienced by any other member of the ADF.”

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