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HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Voyager: The Continuing Psychiatric Aftermath

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The collision between the HMAS Melbourne and the HMAS Voyager on February 10, 1964 occasioned the loss of 82 lives. Few could have contemplated, though, that four decades later litigation would continue unabated, sailors on board the Melbourne suing the Commonwealth for the effects of the collision and its immediate aftermath upon their lives. The latest chapter in the interminable saga have been decisions by Cripps AJ in Hill v Commonwealth of Australia [2003] NSWSC 1025 and O'Keefe J in Stankowski v Commonwealth of Australia [2004] NSWSC 198. In the different results and the different analyses of the decision-makers, the author explores the impact of the effluxion of so much time and such difficult factual circumstances for the courts' decision-making processes and the ramifications for PTSD litigation in other factual scenarios.

Document Type: Commentary


Affiliations: Barrister, Melbourne, Australia; Adjunct Professor, Law School, La Trobe University; Adjunct Professor, Law Faculty, Monash University

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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