At least three victims of military abuse have taken their own lives while waiting for counselling and compensation from the government taskforce set up to deal with their cases.
Chairman of the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART), Len Roberts-Smith QC, confirmed that “the taskforce has been told of three complainants who are now deceased due to suicide.
Victim advocates, compensation lawyers and defence observers said it was likely there had been other suicides, given the high rates of mental illness among abuse victims.
They said DART had, in some cases, been too slow to resolve claims.
“I know of cases where it’s taken over a year for the DART to determine that you’re [eligible for compensation],” said Jennifer Jacomb, secretary of military support group, Victims of Abuse in the Australian Defence Force.
“We’ve nearly lost two members because the DART refused to provide counselling.”
For many victims, making a claim is incredibly daunting.
Members of the support group have been critical of DART and its chairman Mr Roberts-Smith, who has announced he will step down in November.
Ms Jacomb questioned why DART did not disclose the suicides in its seventh interim report tabled in Parliament this week.
(Source: ABC News website)