The much-anticipated Defence ABuse Reparations scheme has just been announced. So what does it mean for current and former Defence personnel? TGB senior associate Brianna Tapscott explains.
The Federal Government’s announcement of details of the new Defence abuse reparation scheme is significant for abuse survivors. It means a door once thought shut has now opened and survivors have real options to get recognition and compensation.
The reparation scheme is open to those who have suffered serious forms of abuse and/or sexual assault within the Australian Defence Force, but is limited to abuse that occurred on or before 30 June 2014.
The purpose of a reparation payment made to a complainant is to:-
- Acknowledge the serious and long lasting impact that abuse has on individuals;
- Recognise that in the past Defence did not respond appropriately to many cases of abuse and;
- Recognise that past mismanagement by Defence of verbal/written reports or complaints about abuse was unacceptable.
In their announcement, the Federal Government has determined that upon application to and determination by the Defence Force Ombudsman (DFO), the DFO may recommend to Defence that a reparation payment be made to a complainant if:
- The abuse occurred on or before 30 June 2014;
- The report of abuse was made to the Ombudsman on or before 30 June 2021; and
- The Ombudsman is satisfied the report involves the most serious forms of abuse and/or sexual assault.
There are two possible payments which the Ombudsman may recommend:-
- A payment of up to $45,000 to acknowledge the most serious forms of abuse;
- A payment of up to $20,000 to acknowledge other abuse involving unlawful interference accompanied by some element of indecency;
- An additional payment of $5,000 may also be recommended where the Ombudsman is satisfied that Defence mismanaged the incident of abuse.
If a complainant has already received a reparation payment from the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART), the above payments may be reduced or the DFO may not recommend a reparation payment be made if the act of abuse relates to the same incident as reported to the DART.
Given our past experience with the DART scheme, we welcome this news which provides an avenue for complainants to report abuse within the ADF and a means for that abuse to be formally acknowledged. We know many current and former military personnel were not able to access the DART scheme due to the time limit in registration of complaints, while others simply were not yet ready to share their story.
For many survivors the hardest part of making a claim is talking about their abuse. Complainants will likely find it easier to entrust us to assist them through the process, with our firm becoming the “middle man” between them and the Scheme, taking the pressure off them while advocating on their behalf.
TGB lawyers Tim White and Brianna Tapscott specialise in military compensation claims across every Australian State and Territory. You can register your interest in the new reparation scheme here. Once registered, our team will contact you to book a first free telephone appointment to discuss the process with you.