we can help you prepare, draft, lodge and manage your defence ombudsman application.
In December 2017, the Government granted jurisdiction to the Defence Ombudsman to consider Reports of Serious Abuse. This process offers survivors a second chance to apply for a reparation payment, following the Defence Abuse Reparation Taskforce (DART) led scheme, which had previously closed to survivors.
The Defence Ombudsman scheme has now closed for reports of Serious Abuse.
If you notified the Defence Ombudsman of your intention to lodge a report prior to 30 June 2022 and have been issued with a notification reference number, we may still be able to assist you with your report. If you notified the Defence Ombudsman of your intention to lodge a report, you must lodge your report prior to 30 June 2023.
The Defence Ombudsman may consider reports of serious abuse to both adults and children, and covering sexual as well as serious physical abuse. So it is a less restrictive opportunity than the National Redress Scheme which applies only to abuse suffered as a child, and is restricted to sexual abuse.
Features of the Defence Ombudsman process include:
- No requirement for survivors to have reported the matter to Defence previously, so survivors who have been reluctant to speak up and come forward in the past can still do so.
- Survivors have until 30 June 2023 to lodge a report if they have notified the Ombudsman of their intention to do so prior to 30 June 2022;
- Survivors can receive up to $50,000 for the most serious forms of abuse, with accompanying Defence mismanagement.
- Survivors have the opportunity to participate in a Restorative Engagement Program that provides survivors with that vital acknowledgement and apology that they deserve.
who can make a claim under the scheme?
Any current of former serving member of the Australian Defence Force, can make a Report of Serious Abuse to the Defence Ombudsman, provided they have notified the Ombudsman before 30 June 2022 of their intention to make a report.
does it matter where I served in the ADF?
No, it doesn’t. Donaldson Law are helping survivors across a wide range of the ADF, including army, navy and air force. Donaldson Law are currently working with survivors from institutions such as HMAS Leeuwin, Nirimba, Cerberus and AAS Balcombe, to name a few.
do I need a lawyer to make a claim for a reparation payment?
No, but it does help. Donaldson Law work with hundreds of survivors of abuse and have a great deal of experience representing Defence abuse survivors. For this reason, we know how to prepare and submit your claim to ensure nothing is missed, that you have the best possible chance of receiving the highest reparation payment and the best access to other things such as counselling.
Donaldson Law will take the time to understand your story and then we will manage the whole process on your behalf so you don’t have to worry about it.
when did the abuse have to occur in order for me to make an application?
In order to make an application for reparation payment, the abuse must have occurred on or before 30 June 2014, and you must have notified the Ombudsman before 30 June 2022 of your intention to submit a Report.
Incidents of serious abuse which occurred after that date may still be reported to the Defence Ombudsman using the same process, and may still be eligible for restorative engagement, but they will not be eligible for a reparation payment.
how much are reparation payments for ADF survivors?
For claims involving the most serious forms of abuse, the Defence Ombudsman can recommend that Defence pay reparation payments to survivors. The maximum amount of a reparation payment is $50,000. There are lower tiers of payments for less serious abuse.
is this a compensation claim?
No, it isn’t. This is a ‘reparation payment’ so it does not affect any other rights which a survivor might have at common law or under statutory compensation schemes.
A reparation payment from Defence would be considered a relevant prior payment for the purpose of the National Redress Scheme, if the survivor suffered sexual abuse as a child in the ADF.
who makes the decision about whether I am eligible for the reparation payment or not?
The Defence Ombudsmen has been given the power to recommend to Defence that they should pay reparation payments to survivors of abuse, in cases meeting the relevant criteria.
can survivors access counselling or just the reparation payment?
Limited counselling is available to survivors who report serious abuse claims.
Independently of the Defence Ombudsman process, ADF survivors may be eligible for free mental health treatment through Non-Liability Health Care, administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.