Defence cadets suspended over 'misconduct'

Last updated 14:50 21/06/2013
air chief
"I WILL NOT TOELRATE IT": Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin.

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The Australian Defence Force has suspended seven male cadets and midshipmen over allegations of serious misconduct at the weekend.

Holding a press conference to announce an investigation into the incident, Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, said he could not specify the details of the incident or say whether or not it was of a sexual nature.

Air Marshal Mark Binskin, said an incident that occurred off-campus from the Australian Defence Force Academy had highlighted alleged misconduct that had been going on for ''less than a year''.

He said it appeared the incident was linked to a group of 20 male cadets and midshipmen and more suspensions were expected in the coming days.

Air Marshal Binskin said the weekend incident was ''separate to the Jedi Council issue'' - a sex scandal involving at least 17 male army officers circulating video footage of members having sex, tagged with demeaning commentary about the women.

He said ADFA staff had become aware on Monday of the incident and ''immediately referred the matter to the ADF investigative service and an investigation is under way''.

''It appears the incident is linked to a group of male cadets and midshipmen that is operating contrary to the values and standards expected of ADF members and our future leaders,'' Air Marshal Binskin said.

The cadets and midshipmen span all services and all three years of training.

''I'm concerned about the welfare of all men and women in the Defence Force,'' Air Marshal Binskin said.
 
''I will not tolerate this sort of conduct, and I will not tolerate it in our future leaders.''

He said he doubted the investigation would find a link with the ''Jedi Council'' scandal revealed last week.

In other incidents involving the defence force, on Thursday, an interim report of the government-appointed Defence Abuse Response Taskforce found claims of serious abuse at the Australian Defence Force Academy and HMAS Leeuwin naval base were ''more widespread and persistent'' than previously reported.

And soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, based in Townsville, were reportedly charged with defence discipline offences over Facebook posts that referred to women as ''sluts''.

This is also not the first time cadets have been in trouble over serious misconduct with the so-called ''Skype scandal'' tarnishing the academy in 2011. A cadet, known as Kate, discovered her sexual encounter with another cadet had allegedly been streamed, without her consent, via Skype to other male cadets.

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It prompted wide-ranging reviews into abuse within Defence, and calls for cultural change within the military.

Responding to the announcement of the latest Defence Force scandal, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick suggested the off-campus incident highlighted the need for officers to keep an eye on cadets outside normal working hours.

''In Recommendation 20 of my Report on the Review into the Treatment of Women at the Australian Defence Academy, I urged as a priority the implementation of Residential Service Officers, or Residential Advisors,'' Commissioner Broderick said.

In his statement, Air Marshal Binskin, explained that ADFA had made improvements to supervision outside normal working hours through the employment of Residential Service Officers, who in this situation, brought this incident to light.

''This is an example of our recommendations at work and, while ADFA has committed to implementing 24 of the recommendations, I urge them to implement the entire set of 31 recommendations at pace,'' Commissioner Broderick said.

''While cultural progress has been made, there is clearly much more to do.''

- FFX Aus

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