SYDNEY — Australian police were Sunday investigating a sexual assault claim involving the military, reportedly focusing on a navy ship previously found to have a culture of predatory sexual behaviour.
Reports said a 25-year-old sailor had told police she was indecently assaulted on board the HMAS Success last week while it was docked in Sydney.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said police were probing a complaint, but gave no other information on the case, the latest in a series of sexual assault claims involving the military.
“I have to be careful, there is an investigation under way,” Smith told Network Ten.
“The most important thing here is that the young sailor concerned reported the incident, the alleged incident, to the navy.”
Smith said that he and the country’s top military chiefs had made it clear there was “zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour throughout the service.”
The Australian Defence Force has been stung by a string of allegations, some decades old, of abusive and sexist behaviour in its ranks, with more than 1,000 people bringing their complaints to a recently established inquiry.
A report into HMAS Success released in January found that sailors on the naval supply ship worked amid a culture of predatory sexual behaviour, in which misconduct was concealed through silence and fear.