Australia is yet to see a court victory for victims of sexual abuse where a religious institution has been held liable for a group of victims who allege sexual abuse from serial clerical abusers. However last month in Canada a Montreal court ruled that the Redemptionist Order was liable to pay at least $75,000 in damages to each victim who attended a seminary run by the Order between 1960 and 1987 (http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/quebec-court-orders-religious-group-to-compensate-victims-of-sexual-abuse-1.1908884). Approximately 70 victims have co
Amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act by the Children Youth and Families Amendment (Permanent Care and Other matters) Bill 2014 have now been passed. In a press release (http://www.marywooldridge.com/Media_Detail.asp?ID=609), the Minister for Community Services said:
The Catholic Church and other religious institutions have come under sustained pressure to revisit their settlement processes and to re-open claims that have already been settled. In this context the Christian Brothers have already invited people who have settled their claims to come forward and seek further compensation.
The Hon Justice Peter McLellan AM, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse gave a wide ranging speech for Blue Knot Day for Adults Surviving Child Abuse. Justice McLellan spoke about what the Commissioners have learnt. He said that the picture emerging was that although sexual abuse of children is not confined in time-it is happening today- there was a time in Australian history when the conjunction of prevailing social attitudes to children and an unquestioning respect for authority of institutions by adults coalesced to create a high risk environment in which thousands of children were abused. Justice McLellan also said that although the primary responsibility for the sexual abuse of an individual lies with the abuser and the institution of which they were part, the conclusion that the problems faced by many people who were abused are the responsibility of society cannot be avoided.
Victims of child abuse have welcomed the Coalition’s commitment to implement recommendation 26.3 of the Betrayal of Trust report to abolish limitation periods in historical child abuse claims. A draft bill has been prepared and the current Government is seeking responses by 5th December 2014.
Anybody who has a legal problem usually suffers from a certain degree of anxiety and heightened stress levels. Clients who have suffered childhood sexual abuse often present with even higher levels of anxiety. Lawyers and other professionals who deal with victims of sexual abuse will say that these clients can require more support than is usually the case.
The Royal Commission has now conducted several damaging hearings into private and religious organisations which have been accused of allowing children to be sexually abused. There have been public hearings into the Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, YMCA and many others.
St Paul’s Boy’s Home, was an orphanage run by the Anglican Church between 1928 and 1979 in Newhaven, Phillip Island. It was established by the Mission of St James and St John. Many boys who attended there said that the physical environment was very suitable for boys and that activities included bush walking, bird watching, fishing and swimming. But like many orphanages of the 20th century, some of the staff who were involved in the “care” of the boys were cruel, sadistic and sexually abusive.
Earlier today in a public hearing Justice McLellan read a statement outlining some preliminary comments about redress for victims of institutional abuse. The Royal Commission (the Commission) also released a consultation paper on redress to which Angela Sdrinis Legal has been invited to respond.
In a wide ranging speech at the Victorian Law institute’s Conference of Council, Victoria’s Attorney General Martin Pakula confirmed that his Government was committed to implementing all of the recommendations of the Betrayal of Trust report. Mr Pakula pointed out that some of the recommendations regarding criminal sanctions had already been implemented. He said that some of the recommendations relating to changes that need to be made to the civil law were more complicated but that the...
One of the barriers to victims of child abuse having their civil claims heard in a court of law has been the Statute of Limitations which is a law which says that many victims’ claims for damages are out of time. Whilst it has always been possible for victims of historical abuse to apply for an extension of time, these applications are costly and the outcomes have been difficult to predict. Certainly the further you go back in time the less likely it has been that an extension of time will be granted.
The Labour Government is to be commended for abolishing limitation periods in child abuse cases. Hopefully this is the first of a tranch of legislative amendments to be introduced which will make it easier for victims of child abuse to pursue civil claims for damages in the courts.
COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO COMMIT TO NATIONAL REDRESS SCHEME BUT VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT COMMITS TO REDRESS.
The Commonwealth Government chose to submit a 4 page document (http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/policy-and-research/redress/submissions-on-redress-and-civil-litigation) in which it essentially abdicated all responsibility for the issue of child sex abuse in Australian society. The Commonwealth Government also chose not to appear before the Commission which further demonstrated the Abbot Government’s lack of commitment to the important work being done on behalf of victims of abuse. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-25/child-abuse-royal-commissioners-disappointed-in/6348350)
The passing of this legislation is a credit to all Victorian Parliamentarians who gave the Bill bipartisan support. It is also a credit to the many advocates and campaigners who fought to for the establishment of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Abuse which have directly led to the passing of the Bill and which will hopefully open the way for further justice for victims of child abuse.
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