NSW laws to limit payouts to prisoners must not apply to victims of child sexual abuse
4th May 2020
NSW legislation that restricts the ability of offenders to recover personal injury payouts from prisons must not be allowed to apply to the victims of child sexual abuse, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
“This legislation must be reviewed immediately,” said Dr Andrew Morrison RFD SC, spokesperson for the ALA. “Laws designed to limit the amount of compensation that can be received for injuries sustained in prison were not intended to apply to children who are sexually abused while in juvenile detention.
“The abuse of a child within any institution is a terrible and serious crime, and abuse inflicted while this child is in the care of the government is particularly horrendous.
“Any survivor who experienced sexual abuse while in juvenile detention must have access to redress and compensation for their pain and suffering. These children were vulnerable and powerless, and it would be severely unjust to apply a law designed to prevent excessive injury claims from adult prisoners to cases of child sexual abuse.
“Moreover, the fact that someone has subsequently submitted a crime shouldn’t deny them compensation for separate and earlier abuse. Otherwise they are being punished twice.
“Often those abused end up on the streets and turn to alcohol, drugs and crime. The institutional abuse may well be a direct or indirect cause of their incarceration.
“Given the significant over-representation of Aboriginal people in prison, the effect of this law is also indirectly discriminatory against Aboriginal people some of whom were sexually abused in youth detention after being taken away from their families and placed in custody.
“The approach being considered by the Department of Communities and Justice is manifestly wrong, discriminatory and unjust.”
The ALA is a national association of lawyers, academics and other professionals dedicated to protecting and promoting justice, freedom and the rights of the individual.