National law firm Slater and Gordon has today said the multi-million dollar bill for an ‘independent review’ of claims of abuse by former and current members of the defence force would have been better spent on setting up an ex gratia scheme to compensate historical abuse cases.
Recent media reports suggest more than $10 million has been spent by the Federal Government conducting a review into abuse claims.
Slater and Gordon’s Practice Group Leader in Military Compensation, Brian Briggs, said it is alarming that a huge amount of money has been spent on the review while some defence members haven’t received any compensation for pain and suffering as a result of abuse while in the military.
“I’m concerned at the extent of resources and funding that has been spent on this review, but I’m even more worried about former or current defence members who are waiting for their compensation claims to be determined,” Mr Briggs said.
“These resources could have been better spent on dealing with outstanding claims or setting up an ex gratia scheme to compensate historical abuse cases.
“For example, the $10 million spent so far could have compensated more than 500 abused defence members if a $20,000 ex gratia payment was made by the Federal Government – that’s nearly half of the current claims of abuse being examined right now.
Mr Briggs said access to compensation for pain and suffering should be consistent across all current and past serving members.
“Unfortunately, my calls for an ex gratia scheme have fallen on deaf ears.
“The limitations of the law in this area make it extremely difficult for former members to make claims and receive adequate compensation,” he said.
Mr Briggs has urged the Defence Minister to make the findings of the defence abuse review public as soon as possible.