Military abuse victims welcome apologies

Nov. 26, 2012 at 2:36 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Australians who say they suffered abuse while in the military say they are pleased to hear apologies from military and government officials.

A government review has found about 750 plausible allegations of abuse, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday.

Both Defense Minister Stephen Smith and Defense Force Chief Gen. David Hurley have offered formal apologies for the incidents. Smith issued his apology during a session of Parliament.

One alleged victim, Albert Norley, said he was assaulted at age 15 by three senior cadets shortly after arriving at a naval base in Fremantle in 1965. He said he also witnessed attacks on other cadets.

He was recently diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

Norley said Smith's apology was "a big step forward for us [victims]."

Brian Briggs, an attorney who has represented hundreds of victims of Defense Ministry abuse, said he thought Smith's apology "will go a long way towards at least in some way compensating them for the historical abuse and for the abuse that's happened to them whilst they were in the military."

However, he said the apology would have been more effective if Smith had announced he would make the apology, because many victims did not witness it.

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