National law firm Slater and Gordon has today called for the Federal Government to set up an ex gratia scheme to compensate historical abuse cases involving current and former members of Australia’s Defence Force.
Slater and Gordon has assisted hundreds of ADF members and is recognised as Australia’s leading military compensation law firm. The law firm has experienced a significant increase in the number of enquiries from current and former ADF members who claim to have suffered acts of physical and sexual abuse and bastardry, following various high profile media stories in past weeks.
Military compensation lawyer Brian Briggs said while some of the new claims would be covered by the government’s current military compensation schemes, those who served prior to 1989 would not receive all the benefits available under these schemes, including access to compensation for pain and suffering.
“The Federal Government has indicated that it wants to put these cases under the microscope and they’ve set up a number of inquiries,” Mr Briggs.
“For many of the people that I have spoken to in the past week, the public attention has meant that old wounds are being re-opened and they want to find out what rights they have.
“They are disappointed when they find out that they’ve slipped through the cracks.
“I think it’s a good thing that people feel they can now speak out, but the government must show some sympathy to these people and acknowledge what has happened to them.
“The majority of those abused whilst in the ADF prior to 1989 have no entitlement to compensation for pain and suffering under the current military schemes,” he said.
Mr Briggs said access to compensation for pain and suffering should be consistent across all current and past serving members.
“The limitations of the law in this area make it extremely difficult for former members to make claims and receive adequate compensation, or even recognition, so an ex gratia scheme needs to be set up.”