Today the Chief of the Defence Force spoke publicly about the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) Afghanistan Inquiry report findings regarding alleged misconduct by Australian Special Forces on operations in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
The Chief of the Defence Force also publicly released a version of the Afghanistan Inquiry report, parts of which have been redacted for legal and privacy reasons.
The IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry, established at the request of the Chief of the Defence Force in 2016, has been complex, extensive and lengthy.
The Afghanistan Inquiry report contains findings and recommendations about a range of very serious matters that the Chief of the Defence Force must now comprehensively respond to.
Accountability will be the cornerstone of Defence’s response to the Inquiry report.
This is crucial to maintaining the highest standards Australians expect of our military, reassuring confidence and trust, and learning from grave failings.
To ensure thorough oversight of the Defence response to the Inquiry, last week Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, established the Afghanistan Inquiry Implementation Oversight Panel, which will report directly and regularly to the Minister.
This panel, led by former Inspector General of the Intelligence and Security, Dr Vivienne Thom AM, will provide further assurance to the Government and the Australian people of Defence accountability.
Minister Reynolds remains proud of the men and women of the ADF who have served our nation on operations at home and around the world, and have done so with distinction.
The findings announced by the Chief of the Defence Force today should not cast a shadow on the vast majority whose contributions to the mission in Afghanistan were carried out to the highest standards demanded of them.
Minister Reynolds stated she is profoundly conscious this process continues to be extremely challenging and distressing for many individuals and families impacted by the Inquiry.
Defence will keep working hard to make sure people get the right support when they need it.
This is the Government’s highest priority.
Minister Reynolds strongly encouraged current and former serving ADF members and their families to reach out and seek the help they need.
The Government remains committed to ensuring access to the right support, at the right time, is available to veterans, ADF members and their families.
This includes counselling, legal, psychological, medical, pastoral and social work support.
The IGADF has employed Witness Liaison Officers who have been supporting those involved during the Inquiry.
To ensure their privacy, other government departments are not aware of their identities unless they have come forward for assistance.
These Witness Liaison Officers will now integrate into Defence to provide a continuity of support and I encourage anyone affected by this Inquiry to access the welfare and support services made available by both the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs.
The Defence All-hours Support Line is a confidential telephone service for ADF members and their families that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 628 036.
Defence families can also contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Safe Zone Support (1800 142 072) is a free and anonymous counselling line for current and former ADF personnel and their families.
The service is available 24/7 and provides access to specialised counsellors with an understanding of military culture and experience.
When you call Safe Zone Support you do not need to identify yourself if you do not want to.
Defence personnel, veterans and their families can also access free and confidential counselling 24/7 through Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling Service (1800 011 046) or online at www.openarms.gov.au.
More information is available at: https://afghanistaninquiry.defence.gov.au/welfare-support.
Assistance is also available to the broader ADF and veteran community at: https://www1.defence.gov.au/adf-members-families/health-well-being/services-support-fighting-fit.
More information is available at: https://afghanistaninquiry.defence.gov.au/welfare-support