To ensure justice for survivors of child abuse, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury will introduce law reforms to clear the way for courts to set aside unjust and unreasonable settlements for survivors of historical child abuse.
“It is vital that survivors of child abuse have access to justice,” Attorney-General Rattenbury said. “Following the Royal Commission, meaningful changes were made to remove technical and procedural barriers to child abuse survivors suing the responsible institutions. When those institutions were difficult to sue, many survivors making settlements for personal injury were forced to accept deeply unfair and inadequate amounts.
“Under these reforms, a survivor of institutional child abuse will be able to apply to the courts to have an unjust and unreasonable historical damages settlement for personal injury set aside. This will allow survivors to seek a more equitable settlement against the responsible institution.”
The amendments will also expand the definition of ‘child abuse’ from only ‘sexual abuse’ to include sexual or physical abuse, which will remove the current limitation period for claims by survivors in respect of child physical abuse.
“All survivors of child abuse in the ACT will be able to seek compensation regardless of whether the historical abuse they experienced was sexual or physical,” Attorney-General Rattenbury said.
“I would like to acknowledge the survivors of child abuse and their advocates, including Beyond Abuse, for their advocacy and engagement with the ACT Government to develop these important legislative changes to improve the rights of people who were harmed as children.
"While they had hoped these reforms could be delivered sooner, the ACT has had the benefit of seeing what has worked best in other jurisdictions to make sure that our laws will be the most effective in getting justice for survivors.”
The amendments align the rights of child abuse survivors in the ACT with the rights afforded to survivors in other Australian jurisdictions. These amendments build on the ACT Government’s previous reforms in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The ACT Government has already introduced legislation to make it easier for victims of institutional child abuse to sue institutions responsible for abuse, irrespective of the complex legal structures around those institutions. It has also removed the time limits that prevented historical child sexual abuse victims from suing the institutions responsible.
The following can be attributed to Beyond Abuse Chief Executive Office, Steve Fisher:
“These incredible changes to the law are vital in giving survivors the chance to be in a position financially that they would have been if the abuse had not occurred when they were children. Survivors in the ACT can now look forward to accessing the justice that they so deserve.”