Understanding abuse claim options.
Survivors of abuse have different compensation options:
- a civil damages claim
- a claim for a Redress payment under the National Redress Scheme
It’s important to know that if you accept a Redress payment, you'll never be able to make a civil damages claim against that particular institution. So it’s a good idea to explore your options to make sure you make the best decision for you.
We're here to help if you're unsure or need more information.
Who can make a civil damages claim
You may be entitled to compensation if you were sexually or physically abused as a child by someone that was associated with an institution, while you were in the care of the institution. This can include:
- a church or other place of worship
- an orphanage or children's home
- a public or private school
- any sort of youth or sporting club
- a foster home
- a reformatory school
- a juvenile detention centre
- a prison.
A person associated with an institution would include for example a volunteer, a religious minister or priest, foster parent, someone employed to work at the institution, or a sporting coach.
Time limits for making a civil damages claim
Generally speaking, provided the abuse occurred before the age of 18 there are no time limits on making a legal claim for compensation. We do recommend seeking legal advice as soon as you feel able to so you understand your legal rights about bringing a claim.
- Civil damages claim
- National Redress Scheme
Civil damages claim
What's a civil damages claim?
A civil damages claim is a legal process. In almost every case the institution is sued on the basis they're legally responsible for the conduct of the perpetrator.
The outcome of a civil damages claim is a payment of monetary compensation (also known as 'damages') to you, the survivor of abuse.
Compensation will be assessed and calculated based on the individual circumstances of your case. A civil damages claim entitles you to be compensated for:
- the psychological impact on you resulting from the abuse ('pain and suffering')
- lost income, to the extent your working life and career earnings have been affected including ongoing lost income if you're not yet of retirement age
- treatment costs (e.g. medication and counselling) you've already paid
- ongoing treatment costs.
You may also seek a personal response from the responsible institution, including an apology.
The claim can differ according to the state you live in, but the principles are the same.
The assessment and calculation of 'damages' are not capped. Damages are assessed in-line with court decisions in the same state or territory where you bring your claim.
National Redress Scheme
What's the National Redress Scheme?
The National Redress Scheme aims to acknowledge harm done to survivors of sexual abuse.
The Scheme can help survivors of institutional abuse to seek:
- a payment which is calculated based on the type of the abuse and the type of institution
- a further small payment for psychological treatment
- a request for a personal response from the institution responsible for the abuse. This could include an apology from a senior member of the institution, or an explanation of what that institution does today to protect children.
The maximum payment you can receive is $150,000. However, many survivors won't qualify for the maximum amount. The amount you'll receive is in many cases less than that of a legal claim.
Not everyone is eligible for the National Redress Scheme. You're not eligible if:
- the institution hasn’t signed up to the scheme voluntarily
- you're not an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- you're in jail
- you've ever been sentenced to a jail term of five years or more.
Process for making a claim
Our abuse claim lawyers will assist you with your claim and make sure you know and understand your rights and options.
The majority of cases settle out of court. Sometimes, it is necessary to go to court to get the correct outcome; and we will do that if we have to.
Get in touch.
Tell us your story, we're here to listen. Our experienced, trauma-trained lawyers will review your circumstances with care and provide you with the best advice.
We’ll prepare your claim.
We take care of the legal process on your behalf. You will be kept informed of all stages along the way, including what fees are payable.
If your claim is successful and damages are awarded, we'll process your payment as soon as we receive it.
'Maurice Blackburn made me feel comfortable to speak up. I didn’t have to feel like I wasn’t important. Worth came back in.'
We’re here to help. Get in touch with your local office.
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Our Canberra office is now closed, but our team continues to serve ACT clients and are available for phone and video appointments. If you need legal advice, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.