Thousands of Australian Defence Force survivors subjected to historical sexual abuse while working in the navy, army and Air Force have a second chance to apply for compensation as part of a new Commonwealth Redress Scheme confirmed in the Federal Budget.
From July 1, 2018 survivors who were sexually abused as children in the ADF have the opportunity to claim a monetary payment of up to $150,000 along with access to psychological counselling services which will be provided via a helpline.
Donaldson Law director Adair Donaldson, who has advised hundreds of survivors of abuse in the ADF, said now was the time for survivors to come forward and consider their legal options.
“This redress opportunity is essentially a second chance for all those ADF survivors of abuse who missed out on making a claim last year as part of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, which despite its best intentions was not well publicised or understood.” Mr Donaldson said.
“Due to the lack of information that was available around DART, a lot of survivors were totally unaware of their options and we really don’t want that same situation to happen again.”
According to Mr Donaldson, who has worked with survivors of abuse since 2007, the ADF had taken a proactive approach to acknowledging instances of abuse in the institution.
“The Australian Defence Force is one institution that has to be acknowledged for the positive way in which it has dealt with its failings of the past.” he said.
“It takes a lot of courage to pick up the phone or ask someone for help. When a survivor does, it’s vital… we listen to them and offer them the immense support they need to move forward.”
Mr Donaldson said his firm continued to receive calls for help and that many of those calls continued to come from regional Queensland towns.
“I know many survivors have sought the solitude and support networks offered by close-knit rural communities, whether it be returning home to regional Queensland or starting a new life without the spotlight felt in larger cities.” Mr Donaldson said.
“No amount of money is ever going to take away the pain of the past but signs of cultural change within key institutions and acknowledgment of what these survivors have lived through is of great importance.”