The Australian Defence Force

The Australian Defence Force currently has around 60 Australian bases. The Australian Defence Force offers young people gap year military opportunities, paid education, housing and ongoing training to become soldiers.  

Being a part of the Australian Defence Force should be considered as a positive influence and career choice for young Australians, however, the Australian Defence Force has a torturous past with thousands of young cadets being subject to horrific bullying, sexual abuse and harassment, and physical abuse on a regular basis.   

HMAS Cerberus, VIC

HMAS Cerberus is a Royal Australian Navy base that serves as the primary training establishment for Royal Australian Navy personnel. The base is located adjacent to Crib Point on the Mornington Peninsula, south of the Melbourne City Centre, Victoria. The site was purchased in 1911, and the base was officially opened in September 1920 as Flinders Naval Depot, changing to HMAS Cerberus on 1 April 1920.  

HMAS Cerberus’s primary purposes has always been the training of Royal Australian Navy personnel. Over the last 13 years, HMAS Cerberus has established four tri-service schools and, as such, it has extended to training Army and Air Force personnel. The HMAS Cerberus base is also the home of the Recruit School. The Recruit School is, for all sailors, their first base/placement.  

History of Abuse at HMAS Cerberus, VIC

In 1996, a woman was victim to a gang rape when she was only 17 years old at HMAS Cerberus. The woman reported the incident to the naval police. The woman says that the naval police who interviewed who pressured her to say the sex was consensual.  

One particular survivor named Aaron Frazer disclosed that he was raped whilst training at HMAS Cerberus in 2007. He disclosed that he had forgotten to tuck his shirt into his trousers properly one day, and his superiors reprimanded everyone in his dormitory. As ‘payback’, two of his roommates orally raped Aaron, while four other roommates cheered the perpetrators on and filmed the assault. Aaron’s head was also being slammed into the side of a locker at the same time as the sexual abuse. Following the assault, Aaron went to the HMAS Cerberus and reported the assault. Instead of being given the opportunity to make a formal complaint or statement, Aaron was told that the photos and videos had been deleted (mind you, without being provided with any proof of this being the case) and no further action was taken.  

In April 2011, there was a Skype sex scandal where a female cadet was filmed having sex with a coworker without her permission or knowledge. Since this incident, countless stories have emerged of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and harassment within the Australian Defence Force and the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce was established to investigate and address these countless reporting of abuse.  

On 8 July 2021, the Australian Government established the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Since this time, survivors have shared their stories of horrific sexual abuse on Australian Defence Force institutions, including HMAS Cerberus.  

Further in 2011, former navy cadet Keith Calvert was convicted and imprisoned for digitally raping a fellow cadet whilst she was asleep in 2009. Calvert filmed the assault and gave the camera a thumbs up in the middle of the assault. At trial, Calvert told the court that he assaulted the female cadet in attempt to be accepted by his peers. Calvert’s lawyer submitted to the court that bragging about sexual exploits and filming same was rife at HMAS Cerberus. Calvert was released from prison in 2013. 

Hazing rituals/traditions has also always been rife within the Australian Defence Force and at HMAS Cerberus. Even as recent as 2017, a female sailor was accused of assaulting a fellow male sailor after a training session at HMAS Cerberus.  

We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim in any jurisdiction in Australia, please reach out to the author, Emily Wright, at Littles Lawyers today. 

Further Abuse Law information written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website.  

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