Defence Minister Marise Payne has announced the introduction a Defence Reparation Scheme for survivors of abuse within the Australian Defence Force.
The Defence Force Ombudsman (DFO) will assess all complaints, including those already received since their role was expanded in December 2016 to provide an alternative mechanism for people who have suffered abuse in Defence to access support and advice if they cannot, or do not feel comfortable, using Defence’s internal mechanisms for such complaints.
Defence said the DFO may recommend a payment in relation to a complaint of abuse if satisfied that:
- the abuse is reasonably likely to have occurred, and occurred on or before 30 June 2014; and
- the complaint relates to the most serious forms of abuse or sexual assault.
“These payments recognise that what has happened in the past was wrong," Defence Minister Payne said.
"Defence has zero tolerance for abuse and has well-established frameworks to encourage individuals to report abuse and to support Defence in responding appropriately to allegations.
"This is a significant milestone for Defence and anyone who may have experienced abuse in Defence. Payments are expected to commence from early 2018."
The DFO will contact individuals who have already lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman to seek further information. The Ombudsman will then consider whether to make a recommendation for reparation for these matters.
Defence said the scheme reflects that significant steps have been taken to reform and embed Defence’s cultural change strategy, which included the creation and maturing of the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office.
Complaints must be made to the Ombudsman on or before 30 June 2021.