Abuse survivors to be guaranteed a voice under new laws
13 October 2020
Lawyers have welcomed legislative amendments announced by the Victorian Government today which will help ensure that survivors of historical sexual abuse can share their stories with the community without risking adverse court action.
Maurice Blackburn senior associate John Rule said that the amendments to Victoria’s Judicial Proceedings Reports Act are vitally important to empower victims to tell their stories without the need to seek court orders to do so.
“Story telling is an important part of the healing process for many abuse survivors and it is important that they have access to this process where appropriate.
“Proposed amendments to the Defamation Act and the Limitation of Actions Act introducing a new serious harm threshold and public interest test in defamation claims are therefore also most welcome.
“The Victorian Government is to be commended for recognising that any unreasonable barrier to storytelling for abuse survivors is an additional form of abuse that must be removed,” he said.
Mr Rule said that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed that there are an estimated 60,000 survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in Australia and so far only a fraction of these have come forward.
“A survivor of child abuse will take on average longer than 20 years to disclose what happened; and much longer again before they find the courage to seek justice.
“It is therefore vitally important that abuse survivors are able to call out their abusers and the historical failures of those institutions that helped protect them from prosecution.
“Experience tells us that the personal stories of these extremely brave individuals will help to encourage to others to come forward and be heard in the future,” he said.