Australians who were victims of past terrorist attacks overseas are now able to claim compensation pursuant to the Overseas Terrorism Compensation Scheme.
The Scheme was first introduced by the Gillard Government in 2012 but it was not retrospective, meaning that victims of terrorist attacks which occurred prior to the introduction of the Scheme could not apply. However Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently legislated to allow victims of past terrorist attacks to make a claim for compensation.
Events which have been declared overseas terrorist acts include the September 11 attacks in the United States, the 2002 Bali Bombings and the 2005 bombings in London. More recently, the shootings which occurred in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya have been declared as an overseas terrorist act.
Pursuant to the Scheme, victims can apply for a one-off lump sum payment of up to $75,000.00, referred to as an ‘Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment’. The payment has been described by Prime Minister Abbott as ‘an important acknowledgement of the pain and suffering that victims of terrorism have suffered’. Not all victims will receive the maximum payment however, as amounts are determined according to various criteria including the extent of the injury sustained and the circumstances in which the injury occurred. Another relevant factor will be whether the victim ignored travel warnings from the government about travelling to the country or region in which the terrorist attack occurred.
To qualify for a payment, the following criteria must be met:
- You must have been an Australian permanent resident on the day of the attack;
- You must have been present at the site where the attack occurred;
- You must have been harmed as a direct result of the attack (primary victim); or
- You must have been a close family member (partner, child, parent or sibling) of a person who died as a result of the attack (secondary victim).
A primary victim has two years from the date of the declaration by the Prime Minister to make a claim. A secondary victim must claim within 12 months of the death of the close family member. However, secondary victims claiming for retrospective terrorist acts from 10 September 2001 have 12 months from the declaration date of 21 October 2013 to claim.
The Department of Human Services administers the payment and has et up a system to receive claims from 21 October 2013.
If you have a question about the Overseas Terrorism Compensation Scheme call Elspeth Pope on (02) 4324 7699.