Department of Defence charged after cadet suffers serious injuries

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 16 October, 2018 - 15:45
Incidents & prosecutions
National News

Federal prosecutors have laid charges against the Department of Defence after a Sydney high school student suffered serious injuries during an army cadet camp.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has filed four charges in Downing Centre Local Court, alleging the Department failed in its duties under the federal Work Health and Safety Act.

The charges follow an investigation by work health and safety regulator Comcare.

The 14-year-old boy from Sydney’s Newington College was injured during the school’s army cadet camp at Colo, northwest of the city, on 19 September 2016.

He disappeared during an exercise and was later found unconscious at the bottom of an escarpment, suffering multiple fractures, and was airlifted to hospital.

The charges include three Category 2 offences under section 32 of the WHS Act – exposing a person to risk of death, injury or illness.

These charges relate to alleged failures in risk assessment, planning approval and supervision, with each count carrying a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

Defence is facing a further charge of failing to notify the incident to Comcare immediately, which carries a maximum penalty of $50,000.

The Department of Defence owed duties to the students as ‘workers’ under the WHS Act, through the Australian Army Cadets program the school was part of.

The matter is listed for mention in Downing Centre Local Court on 6 November.