Compensation for Abuse Survivors
In previous years the barriers have been high for survivors of abuse to seek redress from individuals, government departments and religious institutions. Recent changes to the laws in South Australia have removed the time limit within which a claim can be made and have expanded the definition of ‘child abuse’ from sexual abuse to any serious abuse.
There are a number of avenues available for survivors of sexual abuse to commence claims against perpetrators, government bodies or religious institutions. Websters Lawyers have an experienced team to provide advice on the most appropriate method to seek compensation.
INSTITUTIONAL SEXUAL ABUSE - NATIONAL REDRESS SCHEME
In November 2012, Prime Minister Julia Gillard made a recommendation to the Governor-General that a Royal Commission be heard into the institutional responses to child abuse. In 2013 the Governor-General ordered a Royal Commission which culminated in a report being published on 15 December 2017.
The final report contained multiple recommendations, in particular, a recommendation that a National Redress Scheme be enacted enabling survivors of institutional sex abuse to commence claim against various government institutions.
The proposed National Redress Scheme offers survivors of sexual assault payments of up to $150,000.00 where the abuse occurred whilst the child was in the care of any organisation or group of people.
Currently the South Australian Parliament is attempting to fast-track the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Bill 2018 (“the Bill”) to enable survivors to seek redress for injuries sustained as a consequence of sexual abuse whilst in institutional care only.
Applications into claims under the Bill are open from 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2028.
In the event an institution has closed or is unable to pay, the State Government will offer redress for victims.
The National Redress Scheme will hopefully eliminate the need for costly and potentially protracted litigation and will reduce the hurdles survivors face in order to seek compensation.
In the event a survivor of sexual abuse is not eligible to commence a claim under the Bill, there are other options available to seek redress.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN REDRESS
In South Australia a survivor of sexual abuse is able to commence proceedings for redress against the offender in their personal capacity, the governing body or the employer of the offender. Survivors are might also be able to commence civil proceedings against religious institutions which is discussed below.
A survivor of sexual assault will be able to commence an action battery, assault and trespass to person. These are known as strict liability torts. The standard of proof for civil claims for sexual abuse must be greater than the balance of probabilities meaning that a Court must be strongly convinced that the offending occurred. This is different than criminal jurisdictions where you must prove that the offence occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.
Civil proceedings can be commenced even if the offender is found not guilty of an offence.
On 18 September 2018 the State Government passed the Limitation of Actions (Child Abuse) Amendment Act 2018. This legislation now enables any survivor of sexual assault to bring an action for damages if their action was previously statute barred under the Limitations of Actions Act 1936 (SA).
In 2011, the Mullighan Inquiry published and addressed the severity of sexual abuse in South Australia. The Mullighan Inquiry interviewed hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse and found that the average timeframe for an individual to initiate a civil claim was in excess of 30 years.
The recent amendment now enables survivors of serious abuse to seek redress without facing the uphill battle of addressing the limitations issue.
VICTIMS OF CRIME COMPENSATION APPLICATION
If a conviction is recorded against an offender or the offender is unknown a survivor of sexual abuse is able to commence a Victims of Claim Compensation Application.
Claims for offences are limited to the following maximum amounts:
• Offences occurring from July 2017 to current - $100,000.00;
• Offences occurring from 1 September 1990 to June 2017- $50,000.00;
• Offences occurring from 1 August 1987 to 1 September 1990 - $20,000.00;
• Offences occurring from 1978 to 1 August 1987- $10,000.00;
• Offences occurring from 1975 to 1977- $2,000.00 and;
• Offences occurring from 1969 to 1974 - $1,000.00.
The Crown Solicitors Office will meet the legal costs and disbursements (expert reports, treatment etc) associated with Victims of Crime Compensation Applications.
As the average timeframe for a survivor to report an offending or initiate proceedings is in excess of 30 years, a Victims of Crime Compensation Application may result in a minimal payout if the offence occurred prior to 1987.
Rather than accepting a nominal award of damages, a survivor is able to bring an application with the Attorney General for an ex gratia payment.
THE MULLIGHAN INQUIRY
The Mullighan Inquiry established an ex gratia payment for individuals who are able to prove that they have been subject to sexual abuse.
Ex gratia applications are capped at $50,000.00.
Ex gratia applications are commenced similarly to civil proceedings however the success is determined by the Attorney Generals Department rather than a Judge or Magistrate.
Survivors of sexual assault are able to commence a claim against religious institutions for losses however these actions can often be problematic.
Most religious institutions hold their assets in property trusts meaning that if a survivor is successful against a religious institution, there may be no assets available for distribution.
Some religious institutions now have internal processes to address claims for sexual assault. Depending on the institution, there are individuals in charge of assisting survivors with redress. It is strongly recommend that a solicitor is instructed in pursuing such claims.
Some religious institutions cap their payments of redress at $200,000.00 however these payments are up to the discretion of the religious institution.
Websters Lawyers have had success acting on behalf of multiple survivors of sexual abuse. Whilst there are many avenues in which survivors can seek redress, it is recommended that you engage one of our experienced solicitors to assist with your claim.
Websters Lawyers offer a free initial interview to provide advice as to the most appropriate avenues in which a survivor of sexual assault can take to seek redress.
HOPE FOR SURVIVORS OF ABUSE
The recent highly reported outcome of the George Pell case is seen by many survivors of sexual abuse to be a significant step towards providing assurance that they will be heard. The recent removal of a limitation period within which survivors of historic sexual abuse can take legal action has opened the way for many who have previously been unable to seek any form of redress to now take action.
The consequences of abuse are significant and lasting, affecting both the physical and psychological wellbeing of those subjected to it. For many it has resulted in a reduced ability to interact with others or to earn a living. Websters Lawyers provide help to numerous survivors of abuse to claim damages against perpetrators, their employers, the government or other institutions. We provide a free consultation to enable those who are unsure about what’s involved to understand their legal rights and assist those who want to take action to take that first step.
FREE FIRST INTERVIEW
NO WIN NO FEE
LOCAL LAWYERS FOR LOCAL NEEDS
GET THE RIGHT LAWYER FIRST
Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner
Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.
West Ryde NSW
Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.
Patient and helpful in explaining the process.
Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.
Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.
Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.
Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.
Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.
All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.
My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.
Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed
I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.
The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.
[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.
I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.
It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.
Battery Hill QLD
[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.
[My lawyer] was excellent.
Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!
Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].
[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.
[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.
Professional. Smooth Transaction.
I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.
This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.
[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.
With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.
[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.
Cameron, Munno Para
I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!
Shravan, Christie Downs
Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.
Penny, Henley Beach
The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.
Dale, Fairview Park
[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.
Jason, Munno Para West
I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.
Valda, Ingle Farm
[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.
Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.
My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.
Rafael, Davoren Park
I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.
I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.
Pamela, West Lakes
[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.
I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.
Jesse, Morphett Vale
[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.
My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.
Magda, Holden Hill
Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.
Lee, Evanston Park
Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.
Bradley, Hallett Cove
Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.
Carole, Tea Tree Gully
We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.
David and Dianne, Lockleys
I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.
Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.
George, Windsor Gardens