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ADF abuses treated like cover ups: officer
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is appalling at treating cases of abuse, a senior Defence psychiatrist told the ABC last night.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Morgan spoke out to ABC’s 7.30 program and slammed the ADF’s treatment of sexual and other abuse claims.
Morgan was one of the victims of a gay-hate Facebook group in 2010 and also received a death threat via email. Not one of the 40 members who joined the online group were formally charged for the either of the abuses.
“The way army deals with abuse is entirely consistent with how you would run a cover up,” he said.
“No matter all of the cultural reviews, the establishment of the abuse tribunal and the DLA Piper report, nothing has changed about the way defence reacts to abuse.”
When asked why nothing had changed, Morgan said he was not sure but suspected that “our senior leadership just doesn’t care”.
“Whenever I think about meeting a general, the first question that would come to my mind is: so you’ve been in the army for 30 or 40 years, why didn’t you do something about that culture of abuse and why aren’t you doing something now?”
Morgan is a psychiatrist for Defence Health and is the leading policy officer responsible for the mental health of Australia’s deployed soldiers.
He said his abuse claims were never taken seriously and that Defence was legally obliged to undertake certain actions within the first 24 hours of an abuse complaint, which took 51 days in his case.
“The actions required in the first seven days weren’t completed for 21 months,” he added.
Last month, Morgan made a scathing submission to a Senate committee claiming the ADF did nothing to investigate or discipline a group of defence members who started the gay-hate Facebook group.
“There are hundreds of abuse victims serving in the defence force today and somebody has to say something, if not me then who?”
“I’m speaking out because I’m concerned about the wellbeing of our junior soldiers who are experiencing abuse in defence today.
“If I as a senior officer can’t get army to do the right thing they have absolutely no hope.”
Defence Force chief General David Hurley spoke to the news program following the interview.
“I sympathise where Colonel Morgan finds himself but let me just say actions speak louder than words,” he said.
He said he had “put up headlights” in the defence department that victim support in the ADF had to change.
General Hurley said Morgan would not be sacked over speaking to the media.
“I’m not about sacking people who talk out about those sorts of issues, I mean he went through a difficult period in his life.”
“His organisation is very supportive of him, he’ll have views about that as well but I know they’ve put in very flexible work arrangements to allow him to work through his issues.
“He marched in the gay Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night. I think the decision I took a couple of months ago to allow gays and lesbians to march in uniform was one of the most difficult and most complained about decisions I’ve made as CDF but I think we’re making a clear statement about how we want the ADF to be seen as a diverse and inclusive organisation.”
When asked why it was a difficult and complained about decision, Hurley said “not everyone would support the fact the uniform was being worn in the parade… they have different views about homosexuals and their view of that way of life so I wouldn’t say across the country that everybody in Australia agrees with the gay Mardi Gras parade and the way it is conducted.”
In a statement, Defence LGBTI Information Service (DEFGLIS) chair Vince Chong said they continued to extend friendship and support to Morgan and his family, and hoped for the expeditious resolution of his complaint.”
“DEFGLIS will continue to advocate for greater LGBTI education and training for Defence personnel, and the establishment of improved support arrangements for LGBTI personnel as we have done since we first heard about this incident,” Chong said.
Watch the full report here: