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Historical Institutional Abuse

Historical Institutional Abuse

Damage caused by childhood sexual abuse has effect throughout a person’s life.

Through efforts of many survivors, and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the extent of abuse by individuals entrusted with care of children, and in positions of power is becoming known.

We act for individuals who have suffered sexual and institutional abuse.  We will:

  • Advise on legal options for compensation and other redress;
  • Provide obligation free advice on prospects in any claim;
  • Assist in making any claim for victims compensation or under any other statutory scheme;
  • Act in proceedings for damages in relation to claims of sexual and institutional abuse.

We focus on providing constructive, compassionate advice and representation.

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Common law claims

Common law proceedings are claims made by individuals (either alone, or where appropriate as part of a class action) in which they allege individuals and institutions owed a duty of care to protect from harm and failed to discharge that duty.

To succeed in civil proceedings, you must show that the individual or institution knew or ought to have known about the abuse or the potential for abuse and failed to take action to safeguard those in their care from harm. If you are successful, you will be awarded lump sum compensation for pain and suffering, past and future out-of-pocket expenses including counselling and medical expenses, loss of earnings and any care and assistance required as a result of physical or sexual abuse.

In light of the damning evidence before the Royal Commission many institutions are more likely to negotiate a settlement either in the context of proceedings being filed in Court or as a result of claims made directly against the institution.

For many years a problem in bringing claims for childhood abuse was that, subject to some exceptions, claims had to be commenced within 6 years of the damage occurring (known as the statute of limitations).

In March 2016, the NSW Parliament, following the recommendations of the Royal Commission, passed the Limitation Amendment (Child Abuse) Act 2016 which abolished limitation periods for claims relating to child abuse (defined as sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or other abuse connected with sexual abuse or serious physical abuse to a person under the age of 18 years). Other States have passed similar legislation and the Federal Government has announced that it will not rely on a limitation defence in proceedings brought against it. The law applies retrospectively which means it applies to all claims other than those claims that been settled or resolved. Further, if you previously made a claim which was dismissed or stayed because you were out of time your claim can be recommenced as long as there was no settlement.

National Redress Schemes

Prior to releasing its final report the Royal Commission issued its report on Recommendations for Redress and Civil Litigation.  The report recommended the establishment of a National Redress scheme.

On 4 November 2017, in response to the Recommendations Report, the Commonwealth announced the establishment of a Commonwealth Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse .  The announcement indicates that the scheme:

  • will operate on an “opt in” basis, meaning that States and institutions with liability for abuse (such as churches, etc.) could opt into the scheme.
  • will offer psychological counselling and a monetary payment (comprising a maximum payment of $150,000)

In March 2017, more details of the proposed scheme were released in evidence to the Royal Commission.  In that evidence, the Commonwealth confirmed that:

  • redress will consist of a monetary payment of up to $150,000. Payments will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, reflecting the severity and impact of the abuse experienced.
  • survivors will be provided culturally appropriate counselling.
  • a direct personal response (apology) for those people who seek it.

The scheme commenced operation on 1 July 2018. All States have now signed up for the scheme.

It is important to note that receiving compensation under the Redress Scheme is an alternative to a claim at common law – you cannot do both. It is therefore important to understand all available compensation options before making an application to the Redress Scheme.

Victims of child sexual abuse have a number of options for statutory compensation or access to redress schemes.

Segelov Taylor is accepting registrations from individuals who wish to seek compensation in relation to past abuse either by an application on the scheme, or otherwise.  Please contact our office on 02 8880 0500, or for more information.

Victims Support Services

If you are a victim of sexual assault in NSW then you can obtain services and compensation through Victim Support Services. Victim Support Services provide for
  • Counselling services for a maximum of 22 hours
  • Financial support for immediate needs such as medical costs, housing up to $5,000.00
  • Continuing financial support for ongoing medical expenses, housing, loss of income up to $30,000.00
  • Lump sum recognition payment to acknowledge trauma suffered up to $10,000.00
An application to Victim’s Support Services is an administrative process and does not involve a court. You need to complete a form and provide proof of expenses. The assault does not need to be reported to access counselling services but a report need to be made to the police or other government agency in order to claim financial assistance and recognition payment. There are no time limits if you are under 18 years at the time of the assault except for immediate financial support which must be made within 2 years of turning 18 years. If you are an adult a time limit of 2 years from the assault applies.
Criminal Compensation
If the perpetrator has been convicted of a crime then you can apply for criminal compensation to the court that convicted them at any time after the conviction.
Private Redress Schemes
Some institutions such as the Catholic Church have developed their own redress schemes for abuse committed by their staff or within their institution. Some of the redress schemes pay compensation and provide other services such as counselling. It is important to carefully consider each option and obtain advice as to the compensation that best suits you. You should be aware before making any claim as to what other avenues of compensation are available and whether , if you pursue one form of compensation, you will be prohibited from claiming other compensation. Segelov Taylor will sit with you and take a detailed history and provide you with clear advice as to all avenues of compensation available and the best avenue for compensation in your circumstances.

Common Questions

We act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis for persons who have suffered from institutional abuse. This means that we will investigate your claim and, if no claim is brought on your behalf, then you will not be charged for any of the costs incurred in investigating your claim. If a claim is commenced on your behalf then we will enter into a Costs Agreement with you in which we will undertake to pay all the disbursements incurred in litigating your claim (court fees, fees for expert report) and not charge you for the legal costs as your matter progresses. If you are not successful in your claim, you will not pay our costs or disbursements. If you are successful in your claim, then you will recover most of your costs from the defendant.

Individuals who suffered abuse as a child may have rights for compensation and redress from a variety of sources, including:

  • common law claims for damages
  • an application under victims of crime legislation
  • from 2018 an application on the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse
  • internal redress schemes operated by some institutions.

The individual facts of each matter will determines which form(s) of compensation is most appropriate. Different issues, including time limits, apply to depending on the facts. Segelov Taylor Lawyers can provide expert assistance and guidance on options available for individuals.  Some types of claim may be brought together, while others involve giving up other rights.

Yes. Any information you provide your lawyer is covered by legal professional privilege.
Time limits for common law claims relating to sex abuse were abolished in New South Wales in 2016. The law varies on a state by state basis. Please contact us to find out what claims are available to you.
A copy of the Royal Commission report can be downloaded from its website.

In certain circumstances, law reform has allowed abuse survivors to ask the Court to set aside an old, unfair agreement that they entered when their legal rights were compromised and to ask the Court for compensation.

This allows abuse survivors to have the potential to gain compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and medical expenses. Segelov Taylor Lawyers can help you through this process to allow you to achieve real compensation.

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Book a Free Case Assessment

Start the compensation process by arranging a free case assessment.

In the free initial case assessment we will obtain general information and provide preliminary advice on whether we believe you are likely to have a claim for compensation, the value of any claim and our costs in the event you were to instruct us.

The case assessment is usually via phone (we will call you at the arranged time) or by video conference (such as Zoom or Teams).

There is no cost associated with this case assessment, nor any obligation to instruct us in your matter.

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Date and Time for Case assessment.

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