Abuse complaints within the Defence Force have risen considerably to nearly 600 during 2020, as the total cost of abuse reparations approaches the $36 million mark.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman's latest annual report has recorded a total of 500 reports of abuse within the Defence Force between July 2019 and June 2020, up 18 on the previous year, but a September report shows those figures have only risen more.
A further 261 reports of abuse have been recorded by the Commonwealth Ombudsman since July, with more than 80 per cent of them by former Defence personnel.
Under a scheme introduced in December 2016, the ombudsman has become an independent and confidential avenue to report abuse for current and former Defence personnel who "feel unable to access Defence's internal mechanisms".
Over the nearly four years, 1862 reports of abuse have been made, with 568 of those being recorded since January this year.
Ombudsman Michael Manthorpe attributed the recent rise in reports to the scheme's growing awareness as well as the knowledge it would be ending mid-next year.
"The recent growth in reports of abuse could be in part due to knowledge of the scheme and also awareness of the end of the scheme on 30 June 2021," Mr Manthorpe said in the report.
The majority of the abuse complaints came from former personnel, with the annual report noting just 4 per cent of the alleged abuse had occurred after June 2014.
In a June 2020 report, Mr Manthorpe noted that while more recent reports had been received, it was not indicative of systemic abuse.
"We continue to receive some recent reports of unacceptable workplace behaviour and abuse," Mr Manthorpe said.
"These recent cases do not point to systemic abuse in the manner which was apparent in Defence in earlier periods, however, the fact that incidents continue to occur reinforces the importance of continued vigilance."
The reports have resulted in Defence paying out millions of dollars in reparation payments due to abuse claims that occurred before June 30, 2014 - the date the Australian government deemed an appropriate cut-off.
As of September, 836 payments, totalling $35.815 million, have been made to those who had reported abuse - a nearly $4 million increase since the end of June.
The ombudsman has also detailed where the alleged incidents of abuse occurred across Defence bases and vessels.
HMAS Leeuwin, first launched in 1997, received the lion's share of abuse reports at nearly 397, while Kapooka in Wagga Waga was the site for 171 reports.
Over the course of the year, nearly 20,000 Defence personnel completed face-to-face and online courses on sexual misconduct training, according to a recent annual report. It's an increase of nearly 7000 on the previous year's total.
The training deems personnel "proficient" in sexual misconduct prevention and response and lasts for three years. According to its own figures, 53 per cent of Defence's permanent force is proficient.
"Defence continues to drive best practice through sexual misconduct prevention, incident management and response," the report read.
Despite the training, Defence's military police recorded 161 sexual assaults over the reporting period, 88 of which were deemed aggravated sexual assaults.
The ombudsman's Defence Force abuse reporting scheme is scheduled to end by July 2021.