Defence Reparation Scheme
Angela Sdrinis Legal acts for a number of defence force personnel who suffered historical sexual and/or physical abuse in the armed forces. Many of those who suffered abuse as minors (Army Apprentices and Cadets) have viable common law claims for damages because of the abolition of limitation periods.
Angela Sdrinis Legal also acts for adult victims of abuse in the defence forces, some of whom can successfully claim compensation through the Veterans Entitlements Act 1986, the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004.
In addition to possible benefits under these statutory schemes, survivors can make a complaint of abuse to the Defence Force Ombudsman (DFO). All complaints of abuse to the DFO will now include an assessment for a reparation payment (https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/marise-payne/media-releases/reparation-survivors-defence-abuse).
The Ombudsman may recommend a payment in relation to a complaint of abuse if satisfied that:
- the abuse is reasonably likely to have occurred, and occurred on or before 30 June 2014; and
- the complaint relates to the most serious forms of abuse or sexual assault.
There are three possible payments that the Ombudsman may recommend:
- A payment of up to $45,000 to acknowledge the most serious form 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 up to $4,000 may also be recommended if the Ombudsman is satisfied that Defence mismanaged the incident of abuse.
Prior to this current iteration of the scheme, survivors of abuse in the defence forces could apply for a payment through the Defence Abuse Response Task Force (DART) which is now closed. The role of the DFO was expanded by the Government from 1 December 2016 to provide an alternative mechanism for people who have suffered abuse in Defence to access support and advice if they cannot, or do not feel comfortable, using Defence’s internal mechanisms for such complaints.
To be eligible for a payment under the scheme, the abuse must have occurred before 30 June 2014 and complaints must be made to the Ombudsman on or before 30 June 2021.
If you have suffered abuse in our defence forces, please contact Angela Sdrinis Legal for free confidential preliminary advice.