Key legal barrier lifted for WA child sexual abuse survivors

11 April 2018

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has welcomed the WA Parliament’s removal of the legal barriers stopping child sexual abuse survivors from accessing justice and compensation through the civil courts.

The legislation to remove the 6 year statute of limitations for institutional abuse survivors to seek justice passed both houses of parliament this week.

Maurice Blackburn Principal, Phil Gleeson said it’s a long-awaited step forward for survivors.

“It was inherently unjust to have any kind of time limit on when a child victim can take legal action,” Mr Gleeson said.

“Survivors of this kind of abuse often take many years to even speak about what happened to them, let alone ask for any kind of help or redress. The six year cut-off for taking legal action was clearly a highly inappropriate and offensive legal hangover of the past.

“I’d like to congratulate the Attorney-General and the Western Australian government for fulfilling their election commitment to remove these time limits so that survivors can access their full legal rights to compensation in the civil courts,” Mr Gleeson said.

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

“This is also a hugely important victory 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.

“WA has set a new benchmark in paving the way for abuse survivors to seek justice and other states should take note.”

Mr Gleeson urged South Australia to make similar amendments to its legislation and repeated his call for all Australian governments and territories to 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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