Vulnerable NSW children likely to suffer if victim comp law is passed

24th May 2013

Vulnerable children removed from their natural parents because of drugs, mental illness, violence and neglect, will be made even more vulnerable if new NSW compensation legislation is passed through parliament next week, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said.

The retrospective Victims Rights and Support Bill 2013 is scheduled to be tabled in the Legislative Council on Tuesday, having passed through the Legislative Assembly, and imposes a 10-year time limit on sexual assault victims and a maximum of $10,000 compensation.

“If the current Bill becomes law, thousands of children in care will receive only a fraction of the compensation, which they would have received under the Victims Support and Rehabilitation Act 1996,” ALA member, Peter Kelso, said today.

“The government is opening itself up to a great deal of criticism with such a move,” he said.

Mr Kelso, has 500 children on his books waiting for their claims to be settled and is part of an audit panel that advises on DOCs on compensation entitlements for children in government care.

“Children removed from their natural parents have never asked to be in this position. They did not choose to be born to parents who were drug addicted, alcoholics, severely mentally ill, violent or neglectful,” he said.

“Very often the children have become rebellious, frequently running away and have performed poorly at school.”

Mr Kelso made the following recommendations to alter the current Bill to better assist both children in care and victims of domestic violence:

  • The removal of retrospectivity.
  • A separate category for domestic violence.
  • A minimum recognition of $5,000.00 for any claim. (The current $1,500 is barely a month’s rent).
  • Provision for leave to apply out of time limitations.
  • A five year window provided while the current Royal Commission operates as a ‘clearing house’ on historical claims.
  • Higher recognition of payments for sexual assault and sexual abuse particularly for those having suffered multiple and catastrophic trauma with compensation of at least $25,000.
  • Children in care should not be disadvantaged by the new scheme and if possible, there should be a special category for them with respect to sexual assault and physical abuse.
  • All existing and undetermined claims should be dealt with under the Victim Support and Rehabilitation Act.

Tags: Compensation NSW Victims of crime