DFWA UPDATE #248 of 17 March 2010

The Association is gratified, but not at all surprised, that the men and women of the ADF who rescued Afghan asylum seekers after the SIEV 36 explosion at Ashmore Reef in April 2009 have been vindicated by the Northern Territory Coroner. Coroner Greg Cavanagh found that: Whilst there was a priority to save ADF members in the water first and whilst that in fact occurred, I conclude that no criticism can be made in the circumstances of this case. It was not known whether ADF members in the water were injured or not, Corporal Jager would have drowned but for the efforts to rescue her. The fact that the ADF members were recovered and then assisted in the timely rescue and treated of passengers probably saved many lives. I have concluded that action taken by navy personnel was appropriate and more passengers might have died but for the action they took. Indeed, later in these findings I refer specifically to the bravery of three members of the ADF. In my view the individual efforts of ADF members Jager, Keogh and Faunt are worthy of specific mention. The Association again thanks the men and women who protect our borders, often a thankless job that can be made more difficult when media and others cast dispersions on their integrity and professionalism. The Coroner’s report is a welcome assertion of this.

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