WA Government legislation to help abuse victims welcome

22 November 2017

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have applauded today’s introduction of legislation by the Western Australian Attorney-General as a welcome step in improving access to justice for institutionalised abuse survivors.

Maurice Blackburn Principal, Phil Gleeson said it’s gratifying to see the new WA government meet its election commitment to remove the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to seek justice.

“Having an arbitrary time limit on when a child victim can take action through the legal system was inherently unjust. Now these survivors will have the opportunity to seek justice and redress for the life-long damage that was inflicted upon them,” Mr Gleeson said. 

“Many of our clients find it incredibly difficult to come forward and ask for help - it can often take many years before they feel they can even talk about what happened, let alone begin taking legal action.

“Removing time limits in these cases will mean that Western Australian survivors will now have access to their full legal rights to compensation, irrespective of how long it has taken them to come forward.

The proposed new law will also give survivors the ability to legally pursue the institution where the abuse happened regardless of whether it has changed its name or jurisdiction.

“This is also a hugely important legal option for abuse victims. Our law firm has a great deal of experience with various institutions at the centre of abuse allegations trying to evade their moral and legal responsibilities by twisting existing laws to their advantage,” Mr Gleeson said.

“While WA may have been one of the last states to lift the time limits for these abuse survivors, it certainly is now setting a new benchmark for other states to consider.”

Mr Gleeson urged South Australia to make similar amendments to its legislation and says it’s now imperative that all the governments and territories sign up to the Federal Government’s national redress scheme for survivors of institutionalised abuse.

“The Royal Commission made clear in September last year that a national redress scheme is the most appropriate and comprehensive way forward in assisting survivors of institutionalised abuse,” Mr Gleeson said.

“Survivors have waited long enough for this and they deserve better,” he said.

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