Defence Minister Stephen Smith has announced DLA Phillips Fox will look at possibly hundreds of past instances of abuse within the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Speaking on Sky TV yesterday afternoon (19 April), Smith said that DLA Phillips Fox Canberra-based partners Gary Rumble and Melanie McKean would join special counsel Dennis Pearce in investigating allegations of abuse and harassment within the armed services.
"The first task is to accumulate them all and make sure we haven't missed any [complaints or allegations], and then secondly to do an assessment of how many we have in a range of areas," Smith said on Sky. "I mean, I have received hundreds of emails. Some will provide - some do provide - what appear to be details of very serious allegations."
Rumble and McKean are two key members of the DLA Phillips Fox government practice. Rumble in particular has extensive government links, having previously been secretary to the Senate Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee and head of Commonwealth Civil Litigation.
DLA Phillips Fox is one of several firms used by various bodies within the ADF. Minter Ellison, Blake Dawson, Sparke Helmore, Norton Rose and Clayton Utz are also extensively used by the ADF.
In addition to yesterday's announcement, Defence Minister Smith has previously commissioned Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick to look at attitudes towards women within the ADF after the emergence of the skype sex scandal earlier this month.
Brian Briggs, the head of Slater & Gordon's military compensation team, told Lawyers Weekly his firm had received a significant increase in inquiries in the wake of the scandal.
DLA Phillips Fox declined to comment when contacted by Lawyers Weekly.