Source: Agencies | 2012-11-27 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
AUSTRALIA'S defense minister yesterday apologized to military personnel past and present who were sexually abused or otherwise mistreated during their service. He also started an inquiry into hundreds of allegations of abuse over six decades.
Defense Minister Stephen Smith made the apology in Parliament on behalf of the government in the latest step in a two-year effort to reform the culture of the Australian military and make it more accepting of women.
"Young men and women have suffered treatment which no member of our defense force or our community generally should experience," Smith said.
"Young men and women have endured sexual, physical or mental abuse from their colleagues which are not acceptable and do not reflect the values of a modern, diverse, tolerant, Australian society," he added.
He noted claims that officers had abused positions of trust through their own behavior or by turning a blind eye to the actions of others.
Smith also announced that retired judge Len Roberts-Smith had been appointed to examine allegations of abuse by more than 1,000 alleged victims across every decade since the 1950s.
The earliest case relates to the alleged abuse of a 13-year-old navy trainee in 1951.