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Air Marshal Ferguson's Statement On Waioru Review

New Zealand Defence Force

1 December 2005

Statement By The Chief Of Defence Force Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson On The Ministerial Review Into The Allegations Of Abuse At The Waiouru Regular Force Cadet School From 1948 To 1991 And Events Surrounding The Killing Of Cadet Grant Bain 1981

I have now received the Ministerial review into the Allegations of Abuse at the Waiouru Regular Force Cadet School from 1948 to 1991 and Events Surrounding the Killing of Cadet Grant Bain in 1981 conducted by the Hon D S Morris Esq.

Justice Morris's Report is thorough and balanced. The report very fairly places the events in the context of the values and norms of the day (which are somewhat different from what they are now) and also explains the role and aims of the RF Cadet School. Justice Morris has rejected any allegation of widespread sexual abuse and he found that any abusive behaviour was that of cadets to cadets and did not involve the Regular Force NCOs or Officers. However, even accepting the "background context" it appears that that a number of RF Cadets had to put up with treatment meted out by their comrades, which no person should have been exposed to in any circumstances. For that I express my sincere regrets.

The family of Cadet Grant Bain who was killed at the RF Cadet School in 1981 have suffered in a very significant way through the loss of a son and a brother. Although Justice Morris largely exonerates the Army in respect to decisions made at the time concerning criminal charges, I acknowledge that words will never be sufficient to alleviate the grief felt by Cadet Bain's family.

Notwithstanding the fact that many of the events in question happened two or more decades ago, the findings of the Morris Report will doubtless be of concern to the public and give rise to questions over current practices. For this reason I welcomed an administrative review to examine the efficacy of current policies and practices of the NZ Defence Force to prevent physical, sexual and other abuse. I am pleased to advise that the Review found the NZ Defence Force's policies for the prevention and management of abuse are sound and personnel throughout the NZ Defence Force are striving to implement those policies.

There is a strong awareness of the need to provide a safe working environment and to protect people from all forms of abuse. Commanders at all levels saw this as an integral part of their leadership responsibilities.

I wish to assure families who entrust their family members to us to prepare and train them for service in the Defence Force, that we take this responsibility seriously. If there are shortcomings, failures or wrong doings, those responsible will be held to account and face the consequences of carrying out unauthorised actions or allowing them to take place.

ENDS

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