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Darwin PFAS Contamination Class Action

Shine Lawyers has reached an in-principle agreement with the Department of Defence, successfully achieving justice for the residents in Bullsbrook, Townsville, Darwin, Richmond, Wagga Wagga, Wodonga and Edinburgh that were affected by PFAS contamination.

On 25 August 2023, the Federal Court approved the $132.7 million settlement and distribution scheme which determines how compensation is distributed to members of this class action. We will communicate directly with group members to provide further information about their compensation entitlements.

About the Darwin PFAS Contamination Class Action

From the 1970s to at least 2004, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) regularly conducted firefighting drills using a type of firefighting foam known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam. This foam consists of toxic chemicals known as ‘PFAS’.

The class action alleges that the Department of Defence negligently allowed these toxic chemicals to escape from the RAAF Base Darwin, and contaminate local environments. These contaminants have negatively impacted properties, land values and the livelihoods of the Darwin community.

The ADF commenced a detailed site investigation at RAAF Base Pearce in April 2016 with results detecting PFAS in private bores from residential properties.

Following the announcement of the ADF investigation, Shine Lawyers filed a class action to seek compensation for Darwin property owners who suffered loss in their property value and loss of the use and enjoyment of the land due to contamination caused by the ADF at RAAF Base Pearce.

Important Notice

While the Darwin PFAS Contamination Class Action does not currently include personal injury claims for exposure to PFAS contamination, the adverse health effects of exposure to PFAS chemicals and the viability of a class action will continue to be investigated. Class actions such as this have been run in other countries around the world for both defence force personnel and communities.

Investigation Area

As part of their investigation, the Department of Defence released a map identifying the investigation area.

Download the map

Frequently Asked Questions

What is PFAS?

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyls (PFAS) are a class of harmful chemicals commonly found in products that reduce heat, stains, grease and water. They are common in many household products, such as carpets and non-stick cookware. PFAS are concerning because they do not naturally degrade. They are ingested by humans and animals, and accumulate in the body. A small amount of daily exposure can lead to high concentrations over time.

PFAS soil and groundwater contamination can lead to high levels of the chemical in drinking water, agricultural land, animals and residents.

The full effect on human health is not known.

Is it possible to claim for personal injury?

The PFAS Contamination Class Action does not include personal injury claims for exposure to the PFAS contamination. The adverse health effects of exposure to PFAS chemicals, and the viability of a class action will continue to be investigated. Class actions such as this have been run in other countries around the world for both defence force personnel and communities.

Who is the claim against?

This is a class action against the Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Defence) (Commonwealth). It is alleged that the Commonwealth negligently allowed contaminants within the fire-fighting foam, to escape from Defence Bases around Australia, causing damage to property owners and/or causing unlawful impacts.

What is the difference between becoming a 'Represented Class Member' and a 'Registered Unrepresented Class Member'?

If you register as a 'Represented Class Member' of the PFAS Contamination Class Action you will be represented by Shine Lawyers and Litigation Capital Management (LCM), the company funding this class action.

If you register as a 'Registered Unrepresented Class Member' of the PFAS Contamination Class Action you will not enter into any contract with Shine Lawyers and Litigation Capital Management (LCM), the company funding this class action. Please note that in future, the Court may require you to contribute to the legal and administrative costs for this case out of any compensation you may receive.

If you have any questions or require assistance in completing your registration, please contact Shine Lawyers on 1800 066 173.

What is a class action?

When Governments, large companies or institutions do the wrong thing and people are harmed or suffer loss as a result, an individual can have little to no means of bringing a legal claim.

Class actions are an important mechanism within Australia’s legal system that allow large groups of people to come together to pursue a claim collectively.

For a class action to take place, there are three criteria that need to be met:

  1. There must be 7 or more people that have claims against the same defendant; and

  2. The claims relate to the same or similar circumstances; and

  3. The claim must relate to at least one common issue of law or fact.

For more information about how class actions resolve, click here.

How long do class actions take to resolve?

It can take up to several years for a class action to resolve. The time taken from case commencement through to resolution and settlement administration depends on the particular case, and the nature of the claim.

For more information about class actions and how they work, click here.

Does it cost anything to join a class action?

Shine Lawyers is committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background or financial situation, has access to justice. We run our class actions in a way that means you are not exposed to any costs or financial risk, so joining a class action will cost you nothing.

When a class action is successful, the legal fees and costs to run the class action are deducted from the settlement amount that is approved by the Court. If the class action is unsuccessful, we will ensure there are no out-of-pocket costs to you.

Will my contact details be kept private?

Yes, your contact details will remain confidential and we will seek your consent before disclosing any of your personal information (including before such disclosure is required by the Court).

Shine Lawyers will only use your personal information strictly for the purpose of the legal proceedings.

Why Choose Shine Lawyers?

$1B

In successful settlements and judgments

We have secured more than $1 billion in class action settlements and judgments for our group members. 

See our past class actions
200

years of collective experience

Our team includes the country’s most experienced class actions experts and litigators with the skill, industry insight and dedication to deliver the best possible outcomes for deserving Australians.

70+

dedicated class actions team members

We are proudly one of the largest class actions teams in the country.  Our senior practitioners are supported by a dedicated team devoted to the complex field of class actions.

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