Minister for Defence Peter Dutton has responded to an incredibly disturbing video of an Australian Defence Force trainee being attacked by his peers in 2020. The video, which was aired by the ABC on Tuesday night, has brought forward serious questions about the culture of hazing new recruits within the ADF.
Alister French, a former trainee at Victoria’s Latchford Barracks who was medically discharged this year, was filmed being allegedly “tortured” .
In an interview with 7.30 he said that “at the time, the people I was living with thought it was a joke.”
“I was mentally and physically fatigued and I thought it’s just easier to go with it than try and fight it and have an argument.”
In the video, French is seen allegedly being bound in electrical tape and gagged. He was also allegedly choked, set alight, had genitals pushed on his face, and chilli rubbed in his eyes .
In the video an unknown person can be heard saying “Hi guys. Today I’m torturing Frenchy.”
French told 7.30 he is still dealing with the trauma of the alleged incident.
“It’s still very difficult for myself to go over that night.,” he said.
“Look at the footage. I still to this day have nightmares and night terrors of the incident happening.”
According to the broadcaster, The Australian Defence Force refused to be interviewed for 7.30, but gave a statement assuring it takes allegations of unacceptable behaviour seriously and had investigated French’s story back in 2020.
The ADF also described the video footage as a “new allegation” and said it encouraged an other material evidence to be given to the police.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said, “I feel for Alister and his family.”
“I’ll send this very clear message to anybody within the Australian Defence Force that that behaviour is completely unacceptable.”
However, Dutton also defended the ADF, saying that “99.9 per cent of people conduct themselves in a way that would make us proud.”
Per News.com.au, Victoria Police responded to reports of an incident at the time, but that a criminal offence “could not be determined.”