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Govt must move quickly on defence abuse report recommendations

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Media Release

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Minister for Defence Stephen Smith must act quickly and put in place a military abuse compensation scheme which recognises the abuses cases going back more than 60 years.

Leading military compensation law firm, Slater and Gordon said a statement today from the Minister announcing he has received a range of recommendations from an independent review into more than 1,000 complaints fell short of what is needed to address the problem.

The DLA Piper review into sexual and other abuses in the Australian Defence Force was commissioned following the ‘ADFA Skype incident’ in April 2011.

Brian Briggs, military compensation practice group leader with Slater and Gordon, said the only way to guarantee justice for all victims of military abuse is to put in place an ex-gratia scheme to compensate historical abuse cases.

“Today’s announcement recognises that the abuse cases go back as far the 1950s,” Mr Briggs said.

“Unfortunately none of the recommendations would allow for compensation to victims abused before 1989.

“Until the Minister makes it crystal clear that compensation will be available to the hundreds of victims currently not covered by exiting schemes then the year spent preparing this report is just a waste of time,” he said.

Under the existing military compensation schemes in Australia, members of the ADF who served prior to 1989 are not eligible for compensation for pain and suffering, creating a disparity of access to justice.