Queensland has taken significant steps regarding the law affecting survivors of childhood sexual abuse. These laws aim to give support and justice to those who have suffered sexual abuse in the past. This blog aims to provide an overview on the legal reforms and outlines how survivors can seek compensation. 

The Law

The key changes introduced by the new legislation are as follows: 

  1. Broadened definition of ‘child abuse’: Queensland widened the definition of child abuse to include instances of ‘serious physical abuse’ and ‘psychological abuse’ connected to sexual abuse of a child, the abuse in question must be sexual in nature.
  2. No Time Limits for Claims: There is no longer time limitation for making a compensation claims, meaning the survivors of child abuse can seek compensation at any point in time. This applies to both past and current claims. This allows for victims to retrospectively make claims for the negative impacts on their lives regardless of how much time has passed.
  3. Responsibility of Institutions: The law for compensation places the onus on institutions to show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent abuse to the children by individuals associated with them. This extends to volunteers and contractors. Examples of institutions who may have failed to meet their duty of care, resulting in sexual abuse may include: schools, churches, and government agencies.
  4. Elimination of the ‘Ellis Defence’: The ‘Ellis Defence,’ which institutions used to avoid legal responsibility for historical child sexual abuse, is no longer valid. This change applies across all Australian states.
  5. Apologies with a Specific Context: Institutions are now required to issue apologies that acknowledge the harm caused, without admitting liability.

Options for Survivors

The legal reforms provide survivors with options to seek compensation: 

  1. Common Law Claim: The law in Queensland allows for survivors to now pursue legal action for damages, regardless of when the abuse occurred. With a common law claim, survivors can get compensation for a range of aspects, such as pain and suffering, past and future earnings, and reimbursement for treatment costs. Claimants can look forward to compensation for the devasting impacts sexual abuse has on a persons life.
  2. National Redress Scheme: Survivors can choose to seek redress through the National Redress Scheme. This scheme offers financial redress based on the nature of the abuse and the institution involved. Survivors can also request payment for psychological treatment and receive a personal apology. It’s important to note that choosing this option impacts the ability to file a common law claim for damages later.

Legal Representation

Navigating these options requires expert legal guidance. Qualified lawyers who specialise in cases of this nature can provide valuable assistance. They can help survivors make informed decisions that align with their unique circumstances. 

Next Steps

Survivors have been given the opportunity by the recent legal reforms to seek compensation and redress for the wrongs they have suffered. Such compensation can be sought through the National Redress Scheme or a common law claim for damages. However, it’s very important for survivors to seek legal representation or guidance to ensure they make well-informed choices that protect their rights. 

We understand the sensitive nature of these matters. We are qualified to deal with such information in a professional and confidential manner. We are here to provide practical and supportive guidance. Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you navigate the path towards seeking the compensation and justice you deserve. To us, your well-being matters, and we are here to assist you every step of the way. 

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