A policy announcement made in late 2017 has paved the way for victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse and serious harassment in the Australian Defence Force to receive one off reparation payments from the Commonwealth Government. Administered by the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the scheme allows for payments of up to a maximum of $50,000 to be made to victims as an acknowledgement that abuse within Defence was wrong, and should not have occurred.
Am I eligible for compensation from the Australian Defence Force?
Victims of abuse within the various branches of the Australian Defence Force may be eligible for a reparation payment in the following circumstances:
- The abuse occurred on or before 30 June 2014;
- A report is made to the Ombudsman on or before 30 June 2021;
- The report involves the most serious forms of abuse and/or sexual assault.
The ‘most serious forms of abuse’ includes a campaign of targeted behaviour, sexual assault, a single incident of very serious abuse or multiple incidents of abuse.
Unfortunately, the Ombudsman is not able to consider a report of abuse that has already been made to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART). This means that victims who received payments under the DART scheme will not be eligible to receive an additional payment for the same abuse.
Will my Centrelink/Department of Veterans’ Affairs benefits be affected?
No, reparation payments made under the scheme are not compensation, and therefore will not affect any existing Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs entitlements.
How much will I receive?
There are two categories of payments which may be recommended by the Ombudsman:
- 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 an element of indecency.
An additional payment of $5,000 may also be recommended where it can be substantiated that Defence mismanaged the incident.
Kelso Lawyers can assist in making applications for reparation payments to the Ombudsman, to give you the best chance to maximise your payment under the scheme. To find out more call Peter Kelso on 02 4907 4200 or fill in the information form on the website to speak confidentially with our specialist team.
Are there other forms of compensation?
Victims of abuse within the Australian Defence Force may also be entitled to common law compensation for their injuries. Unlike reparation payments there is no maximum limit on payments, which means that victims can recover substantially higher amounts to reflect the physical, psychological and financial damage that has resulted from the abuse. This course of action remains open to those who have already received payments through DART or through the new Commonwealth Ombudsman Scheme.
For further information about pursuing compensation with Kelso Lawyers please fill in the following information form and a member of our specialist team will contact you.