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Abuse Case Study: HMAS Leeuwin

Robert (not his real name) was a Junior Recruit at the Royal Australian Navy base at Fremantle called HMAS Leeuwin as a teenager. He was a part of the Junior Recruit Training Establishment that was active from 1960 – 1984 as a 15 year old.

During his time at the base he was a victim of assault and acts of physical violence that changed the rest of his life. Robert was not able to complete the 12 months of training and was discharged from the Navy. He was so severely affected by his experiences that he has hardly worked since. He has been in receipt of a Disability Support Pension for many years and currently lives alone in a state of financial and mental hardship. Another side effect of the abuse is that he finds it difficult to leave his public housing apartment, which has resulted in a life of isolation.

The Shine Lawyers Survivor Abuse Litigation team travelled interstate to meet with Robert and see his life through his eyes. He was not well enough to leave his home, or to attend at a mediation. Taking this into account, his claim was settled in informal negotiations which did not require him to be present.

After meeting Robert in his home environment, Shine Lawyers’ had a genuine understanding of his situation. His lawyer could therefore speak from personal observation in the settlement negotiations and fight hard for appropriate compensation.

The client was also provided a written apology from the Royal Australian Navy. When Robert was advised of the settlement he said it was the happiest day of his life.

Shine Lawyers is currently representing several dozen former child sailors affected by abuse from their time at HMAS Leeuwin in their claims for compensation, and acknowledgement of the abuse they experienced. Shine Lawyers has also helped clients giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Case Study 40, which is a formal public enquiry into how Defence and the Department of Veteran Affairs responded to allegations of child sexual abuse at HMAS Leeuwin and other places.

How do I start a claim for abuse compensation?

Depending on the circumstances the law can be quite complex, particularly as many years may have passed since the incident, which is why it's always best to seek legal advice to explain the process to you in a way that is easy to understand.

It’s important you find a lawyer who’s right for you, who shows compassion, respect and has a wealth of experience when it comes to sexual abuse claims.

I think I have claim, what should I do next?

It’s important that you contact a compensation lawyer with experience in abuse compensation claims as soon as possible to make sure your interests are looked after.

The Shine Lawyers Abuse Litigation Team will be able to advise you of your entitlements. Advice is obligation free, and your lawyer can speak to you at a time that is most convenient for you.

The Shine Lawyers No Win No Fee basis policy is available for compensation claims. This is designed to help people whose financial circumstances might otherwise deny them access to legal representation.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 7, 2017.

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