Sydney: The teenage Australian Defence Force recruits were subjected to rape each other, often as part of brutal initiation practices which led one to commit suicide a public inquiry into child sex abuse heard Tuesday.
Counsel assisting the inquiry Angus Stewart, said SC that the navy recruits were subjected to “ritualised practices of bastardisation that were designed to break in and humiliate new entrants”.
He said “The Royal Commission will hear that most of the abuse was perpetrated by older recruits as part of an informal hierarchy in which older recruits physically and sexually abused more junior recruits as part of ritualised practices of ‘bastardisation’ that were designed to ‘break in’ and humiliate new entrants to the navy.”
The practices included “blackballing” or “nuggetting”,where recruits would be held down while boot polish was smeared on their genitals or anal area with a hard brush; a “royal flush”, where recruits would have their heads flushed in a toilet
after it had been used; and “gotcha”, where they would have their genitals pinched in the showers.
The Stewart said out of shame and fear the survivors rarely reported the crimes. If any one claimed they were not believed or were told such experiences were “a rite of passage”, he said.
Glen Greaves, who joined the navy in 1971 appeared before the commission wearing his service medals, to give the evidence he said. He was dragged out of bed, had paper stuffed in his mouth and a broomstick repeatedly shoved into his anus.
Mr Greaves said. “I wore my medals for a reason. I wanted to serve my country and I regret that some of my childhood years weren’t the way I had planned.”
The commission also heard evidence from a man given the pseudonym CJA, who joined the navy at Leeuwin in Western Australia in 1967.
CJA, who was 16 at the time said the inquiry that his complaints went nowhere and he was described as a troublemaker. He said. “On multiple occasions I was snatched in the middle of the night and dragged to a sports oval.”
The commission also heard on Tuesday that some survivors feel their voices are not being heard.
The judgement acknowledged there was a culture of “bullying, harassment, intimidation, bastardisation, victimisation and violence” at Leeuwin and “that such activities was either effectively condoned by the officers in control of the facility, or that no effective steps were taken to wipe out or minimise these practices”.
The Vice-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs, has been called to give evidence of institutional responses to the commission.