NSW Govt provides path to justice for child abuse victims
17th Feb 2016
The NSW government’s plan to remove limitation periods for redress for victims of institutional child abuse is a major step forward in the fight for justice for these victims, the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said today.
The NSW government recently announced new legislation which will remove the limitation period in civil claims, and let child abuse survivors claim for damages regardless of the date of the alleged abuse. The change is one part of the government's response to the child sex abuse royal commission's recommendations.
ALA spokesperson Dr Andrew Morrison SC welcomed the government’s announcement and said it provided a path to justice for all victims of institutional child abuse in NSW.
“The NSW government’s announcement that it will remove the compensation limitation period for victims of child abuse in NSW is an excellent development and a much needed step for victims, many of whom have suffered for decades,” Dr Morrison said.
“The ALA applauds the NSW government for following the example of the Victorian parliament and adopting this recommendation of the Royal Commission, which creates a path to justice for all victims of institutional child abuse in NSW.”
Dr Morrison said that while he had no yet seen the actual wording of the proposed changes to the legislation, it was a welcome development for victims.
“Assuming the revised legislation is along the lines of what was originally proposed in the report of the Royal Commission, the announcement is a major step forward for victims of institutional child abuse, even for abuse survivor John Ellis who was subject to the Catholic Church’s Ellis Defence’,” Dr Morrison said.
“The longstop 12-year limitation period on child-abuse victims to be able to bring forward compensation claims has created injustice for victims, given that both the Royal Commission study and an Anglican Church survey found the average time from abuse to first complaint exceeded 20 years.”
Dr Morrison said that he hoped other state and territory governments would follow the example of the NSW and Victorian governments and remove entirely any limitation period for justice for victims of institutional child abuse.