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Traditional owners settle with Commonwealth over PFAS contamination

24 May 2023

Class Actions

Traditional owners of Wreck Bay land have reached a $22M settlement in their PFAS contamination class action against the Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Defence). 

Shine Lawyers’ joint Head of Class Actions, Craig Allsopp, who settled the claim on behalf of this community, said, while the settlement was a victory for this First Nations’ group, they will still have to grapple with the effects of PFAS contamination for decades to come.

“Fire-fighting foam leaking harmful PFAS chemicals into sacred waterways connected to HMAS Creswell and Jervis Bay Range Facility has caused considerable harm to the people of Wreck Bay,” he said.

“Not only has their land been contaminated, the community’s connection to the country has been irreparably harmed.

“Wreck Bay's indigenous community has lived on NSW's idyllic South Coast for tens of thousands of years. The loss of connection to land and water has also meant a loss of identity for this group and for generations to come.

“We’re pleased to have achieved this outcome for the Wreck Bay community, but understand that monetary compensation will never be enough, as some parts of this beautiful stretch of land may never be the same,” said Allsopp.

This class action included claims for property value loss, the loss of use and enjoyment of the land, and cultural loss. It does not include claims for personal injury.

This class action was funded by Shine Lawyers.

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Shine Lawyers acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, waterways and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.

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