Response to IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry Report20 November 2020
Ongoing speculation may be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of Australia's Defence personnel.
RSL Queensland stands shoulder to shoulder with Queensland’s Defence family to ensure a bright future and enduring legacy for all veterans and their families and will continue to support all Defence personnel during this time.
While the IGADF report detailed serious allegations, RSL Queensland State President Tony Ferris denounced the damaging speculation that has pre-empted the legal process.
“As Australians, we owe our Defence personnel the right to due legal process, including the presumption of innocence that lies at the heart of our legal system,” Mr Ferris said.
“If illegal or unethical activities are found to have occurred, then those individuals responsible must be held accountable.
“But we are very concerned about the effect ongoing speculation may have on the mental health of all veterans, not just those who are the subject of these allegations.”
He said public and media speculation about the alleged criminal behaviour of a small number of Special Air Service Regiment soldiers in Afghanistan – before the claims are investigated by the Australian Federal Police – was detrimental to the vast number of professional and dedicated current and former service men and women.
Mr Ferris warned such speculation would unjustly taint the reputations of the majority of Australia’s Defence personnel who served and continue to serve their country with integrity and distinction.
“Australia’s Defence family is driven by a deep sense of purpose, they serve with pride and regularly put their lives on the line in service to our nation,” he said.
“Many suffer traumatic experiences while serving and every day, RSL Queensland is called on to support veterans who are dealing with the aftermath of their operational service.
“The overwhelming majority of our veterans deserve our respect, not the added burden of unfounded ‘guilt by association’.”
All veterans who need support are encouraged to contact RSL Queensland’s Veteran Services team on 134 RSL or firstname.lastname@example.org, or to contact their local RSL Sub Branch.
If veterans are in need of urgent help, RSL Queensland encourages them to reach out to Open Arms on 1800 011 046. Their counsellors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.