Defence recruits sue over vetting issue

 

Defence recruits who had their careers delayed or destroyed due to hold-ups gaining security clearances are rushing to sign on to a looming class action lawsuit.

The potential legal case follows a landmark decision last year in which a navy marine technician successfully argued Defence had failed to deliver promised training he could have used in his civilian life.

Lawyers believe the same principle could apply for Defence personnel who were delayed from filling protected positions because of vetting problems including lost or misplaced clearance applications.

Marc Lorbach’s dreams of becoming an army intelligence analyst were dashed when the security vetting agency lost his application for a low-level clearance. Picture NCA NewsWire / Peter Lorimer.
Marc Lorbach’s dreams of becoming an army intelligence analyst were dashed when the security vetting agency lost his application for a low-level clearance. Picture NCA NewsWire / Peter Lorimer.

Marc Lorbach, 40, filled out a lengthy application for the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency about a month before enlisting in the army in 2018.

He signed up to become an intelligence analyst however was told during initial recruit training that AGSVA had lost his application and he would have to redo it.

The delay meant Mr Lorbach missed an intelligence training course and was forced to wait in a holding platoon for another opportunity which never came as the next course was cancelled.

"They sat a whole bunch of us down and said, 'you guys can't wait around here in holding forever, you now need to change jobs'," he said.

"We said, 'cool, can we choose our jobs?

"They said, 'no, your jobs will be allocated to you'."

He said he was told to sign a pre-filled statutory declaration consenting to become a combat engineer.

But the physical demands of the position ultimately forced him to be medically discharged with a range of physical and mental injuries.

Marc Lorbach was medically discharged from the army in 2018 with multiple physical and mental injuries and has been unable to work since then. Picture NCA NewsWire / Peter Lorimer.
Marc Lorbach was medically discharged from the army in 2018 with multiple physical and mental injuries and has been unable to work since then. Picture NCA NewsWire / Peter Lorimer.

"When I joined up to become an intelligence analyst it was my intent to stay until retirement," he said.

"The only reason I stuffed my family around at my age was because it was going to be a permanent job and now I'm left unable to work," he said.

A spokeswoman for Class PR, which is assessing the case for Levitt Robinson lawyers, said the company had been "inundated" by former and current Defence members keen to take part in the action.

A Defence spokeswoman said AGSVA completed nearly 50,000 security clearances each year as well as managing 400,000 active clearances and was "currently meeting benchmark processing times across all clearance levels".

She said candidates were advised that their ability to "render ongoing military service" would be at risk if "the required level of clearance is not gained".

"The Australian Defence Force does not hold specific positions for candidates that are awaiting the required level of security clearance," she said in a statement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Defence recruits sue over vetting issue



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