Lifting deeds of release for abuse survivors in New South Wales will allow them to seek fair compensation

17 March 2021
New laws will allow unfair settlement payments to be overturned and victims of institutional child abuse to seek fair compensation through the courts in New South Wales.

New laws which will come before the New South Wales Parliament later today will allow unfair settlement payments to be overturned and victims of institutional child abuse to seek fair compensation through the courts.

Maurice Blackburn NSW head of abuse law Danielle De Paoli said the reforms will bring New South Wales in line with Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and Victoria in ensuring survivors of abuse could receive fair and appropriate compensation for harm caused.

“Importantly the bill also removes previous unfair restrictions which prevented personal injury claims for survivors of child abuse that occurred whilst in custody,” Ms De Paoli said.

"As the Royal Commission made clear, many survivors of historical abuse were forced to accept completely inadequate settlements from major institutions and sign deeds as part of this that saw them having to waive their rights to a future civil claim. 

"For many survivors that meant being left with little option but to accept compensation that had been harshly minimised in favour of churches or institutions - with survivors forced into inadequate schemes far below what they deserved and without proper advice regarding their legal rights.

"These reforms are a significant step in seeking to address this injustice, including importantly ensuring that survivors who were forced to accept inadequate settlements can now also bring a further civil claim to be compensated appropriately.

“Whilst we welcome this announcement, we now call on the NSW Government to move to commence this important legislation as a priority to help ensure that abuse victims, many of whom suffer from complex physical and mental disabilities as a result of their abuse, can receive adequate compensation as quickly as possible.

"These reforms will help to enhance access to justice for survivors and we continue to call on other states still yet to act on this reform to do so with urgency,” she said.

Media inquiries: Jacob O’Shaughnessy on 0428 814 037

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