Defence rapped over troop secret training

Lisa Martin

Defence is being urged to offer help accessing treatment to special forces soldiers injured while training to deal with being taken hostage in war zones.

At the behest of SAS trooper turned whistleblower Evan Donaldson, independent MP Jacqui Lambie spearheaded a push for a parliamentary inquiry into training procedures for resistance to interrogation and conduct after capture

The Senate committee tabled its report to parliament on Monday, recommending Defence conduct an audit to identify all training participants and offer them information on avenues to treat any physical or psychological injuries.

"The committee believes Defence should exercise greater duty of care and examine the necessity of subjecting personnel to ... training activities when they are exhausted and at high risk of physical and psychological injury," the report said.

The inquiry also called on Defence to have participants screened independently to identify and treat psychological injuries.

"The committee does not believe psychologists who participate in conduct after capture training are best placed to provide independent medical assessments of participants when the training is completed," the report said.

Soldiers should be told about the risks posed by the training before being asked to sign a volunteer consent form, the report recommended.

It called on Defence to retain medical records of individuals involved in the training and ensure the Veterans Affairs department had access to the information.

The Australian Psychological Society told the inquiry roughly 10 per cent of people may continue to be impacted with trauma symptoms after the first month.

The training is designed to teach frontline soldiers how to deal with being taken prisoners of war.

Participants are subjected to role play scenarios and interrogations in exercises that span from 12 hours to 72 hours.

Defence maintains that control measures are in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of participants - such as the ability to withdraw, video filming, medical and psychological monitoring and debriefings.

The report said the United Kingdom no longer does this kind of training for longer than 48 hours because studies show it could induce psychosis.

Committee chair Labor senator Alex Gallacher said the inquiry was shocked by claims Defence failed to gain consent from some participants.

He said the committee heard "disturbing" evidence from officers living with chronic and debilitating injuries caused by training undertaken in 1990s.