Time is running out for victims of abuse in the defence force to submit their paperwork to the Defence Abuse Reparation Scheme, leading military compensation firm Slater and Gordon has warned.
The Government today announced a November 30 deadline for the submission of forms for claims so that the Taskforce can process the applications in sufficient time.
Slater and Gordon Military Compensation Lawyer Brian Briggs said there were people who had registered who had yet to submit their paper work.
“If those people are seeking Reparation they need to act quickly,” he said.
“From enquiries I have received there were people who missed out on registering because they missed the cut-off date,” Mr Briggs said.
“It would be a tragedy if the people who made the effort to register in time were unable to proceed with their claim because they missed any deadline for submitting their paperwork.
“The lodgement of the claim form is a vital step in the process.”
The Scheme, established in March, allowed genuine claimants a pathway to obtaining an acknowledgement and reparation for what they suffered in the military, with a tiered system in place to ensure victims are awarded reparation comparable with their experience.
"While it will never be, and was never intended to be, a replacement for compensation payments that reflect the abuse or the long term problems that follow, it goes at least some way to help the claimants in their healing process,” Mr Briggs said.
Mr Briggs said over two thousand victims of abuse had come forward, and the Taskforce had already begun making ex-gratia payments to victims.
“Further the Taskforce has been offering counselling sessions and a Restorative Engagement Program will commence next month to give victims the opportunity to have their accounts of abuse heard, acknowledged and responded to by Defence
“When the Scheme was established it was always made clear that it would run for a set period of time - that time is now coming to an end.
“The last thing I want to see is victims miss out on having their trauma and suffering acknowledged.
“I strongly urge victims to attend to this on a priority basis as I seriously doubt the opportunity will ever arise again,” he said.
Mr Briggs said he welcomed the approach of the incoming Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon David Johnston, who has expressed his support for efforts to address the needs of victims of abuse within the military, and for eliminating cultural issues that have given rise to these serious problems.