A second chance for sexual abuse survivors

Monday 15 July 2019
Kirsty Osborne

The Royal Commission found that survivors of child sexual abuse take an average of 22 years to report their abuse. This is due to myriad factors, including power imbalances between survivors and perpetrators, and deep feelings of guilt and shame harboured by survivors.

Historically, survivors had six years to sue perpetrators or institutions for child abuse. This meant that one of the strongest defences to legal claims were that survivors were out of time. As a result, many survivors were forced to take unfair and inadequate settlements.

The Limitations of Actions Amendment (Child Abuse) Act 2015 removed time limits to sue for child abuse. However, the Andrews Labor Government have recognised that survivors who accepted settlements prior to these amendments have been disadvantaged.

Last month, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy announced that reforms will be made to the Limitations of Actions Act 1958 which allow courts to set aside deeds finalising historical settlements when it is just and reasonable to do so. This will give survivors an opportunity to receive appropriate legal advice and a chance to seek fair compensation.

“Many survivors were pushed into these agreements without proper legal advice, so it’s important we give them an avenue to overturn these often unfair compensation orders,” Ms Hennessy said when announcing the changes.

“Survivors of institutional abuse have already had to endure years of suffering and [the Labor Government] are doing everything we can to support them, and to make sure they have access to the compensation they deserve.”

If you would like further information about sexual assault compensation, please contact Adviceline Injury Lawyers on (03) 9321 9988.

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