Institutional Abuse and Organisational Reform in the ADF

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has recently completed nearly a decade of compensation and reparation for personnel subject to institutional abuse.

Institutional abuse in the military has been scrutinised across the five eye nations addressing what is often represented as episodic incidents of misconduct. This study investigates the systematic character of institutional abuse in the ADF, as well as the organisational attempts to address it. These strategies have included denial, minimisation, cover up and denial of responsibility. Institutional abuse includes condoned forms of physical mistreatment in fourth class training, sexual and physical assault, deprivation of liberties and administrative control.

The incidence of institutional abuse in the ADF is in line with other institutions such as those investigated in the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The ADF instigated an initial investigation in 2011 which led to reparation schemes that addressed around 3500 cases of historical institutional abuse since the 1950s. It is recognised this is not representative of the potential quantum of cases.

Associate Professor Ben Wadham (Flinders), Dr James Connor (UNSW)

Research undertaken thanks to the Australian Research Council Discovery Project 2018-2021 | $131,500

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