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Independent inquiry prepared to investigate MRH-90 Taipan crash

Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral David Johnston, AC, RAN, and Greg Moriarty, Secretary of the Department of Defence, prepare to lay a wreath during the 6th Aviation Regiment memorial service for the 'Bushman 83' MRH-90 Taipan helicopter aircrew at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney on 27 September 2023. Photo: Nicole Mankowski

Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force, James Gaynor, has appointed an independent inquiry into the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crash during Exercise Talisman Sabre last year.

Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force, James Gaynor, has appointed an independent inquiry into the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter crash during Exercise Talisman Sabre last year.

The MRH-90 Taipan helicopter and its crew of four Australian Defence Force members were part of a night training activity during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 when it catastrophically crashed into waters near Lindeman Island.

Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock, and Corporal Alexander Naggs died in the tragic incident.

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The inspector-general, acting independently of the Australian Defence Force, is responsible for the first public hearing into the deaths during the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter incident in Queensland on 28 July 2023.

The inquiry’s first public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, 27 February 2024 at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

The inquiry is being led by an assistant Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF), former justice, the Honourable Margaret McMurdo AC, who will be supported by two other assistant IGADFs: Air Vice-Marshal (Ret’d) Joe Iervasi, AM, CSC, who has considerable aviation and air safety experience, and Colonel Jens Streit, who is a barrister and senior Army Reservist.

The inspector-general has a responsibility to inquire into the cause of deaths of Australian Defence Force members. Finding out what happened and making recommendations to avoid or limit the risk of such an event occurring again, are important outcomes of this inquiry. The inspector-general has invited family members of those who died to be involved in the inquiry process, ensuring their perspectives are considered.

The inquiry will examine the circumstances and causes of the deaths to determine whether actions or inactions by Australian Defence Force personnel or other personnel – including compliance or non-compliance with policies and procedures – were contributing factors to the crash.

Anyone wishing to provide relevant information or submissions related to the incident (including confidentially) should visit: https://www.igadf.gov.au/

Information regarding future inquiry hearings will be made available as the inquiry proceeds.

Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force inquiries can raise matters that may cause distress.

Details of welfare and support services for Australian Defence Force members, veterans, and families are available below:

The Defence Member and Family Helpline is the first point of call for Defence families seeking support. The helpline operates 24/7 and is staffed by qualified human services professionals including social workers and psychologists. If you need support, help, or advice at any time, call 1800 624 608.

The Defence All-hours support line is a confidential telephone service for ADF members and their families that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 628 036.

ADF personnel, both on-base and off-base, can access support through a network of dedicated mental health professionals, located within health centres at major Defence bases.

For out-of-hours or away-from-base assistance, ADF personnel can call 1800 IMSICK (1800 467 425) to locate the nearest support. More information is available via the Mental Health Portal at: https://www1.defence.gov.au/adf-members-families/health-well-being/services-support-fighting-fit/mental-health-online

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (formerly VVCS) provides free and confidential counselling and support for current and former serving ADF members and their families. They can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046 or visit the Open Arms website for more information.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) provides immediate help and treatment for any mental health condition, whether it relates to service or not. If you or someone you know is finding it hard to cope with life, call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 or DVA on 1800 838 372. Further information can be accessed on the DVA website.

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