In January 2021, we wrote to the Attorney-General Mark Speakman, demanding that laws be changed so that children who were in custody at the time they were sexually abused can be compensated fairly.
Currently, the Civil Liability Act 2004 (NSW) limits personal injury payouts for those who were in detention at the time of their abuse. Representatives of defendants of child abuse have been using this section to halt proceedings.
“The difficulty was that traumatised kids, kids who already come from the most marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds, who’d been sexually abused whilst in custody, were not able to sue with the same sort of recourse as people who’d be abused in other institutions,” Principal Solicitor Peter O’Brien said.
This week, the NSW Government has introduced an amendment to the Act.
In his second reading speech yesterday, Attorney-General Mark Speakman:
“Schedule 1 makes it clear that Part 2A of the Civil Liability Act 2002, which deals with personal injury claims by offenders in custody, does not apply to, and is taken never to have applied to, an injury arising from child abuse.”
We welcome this step by the NSW Government in responding to survivors and advocacy groups in removing the unjust practices in place to prevent adequate compensation being awarded for survivors.
The new amendments also allow for previously negotiated deeds or consent judgements to be set aside if the court deems those settlements to be unfair and unreasonable.
“For far too long, Institutions have been able to settle claims on meagre payment, payments that don’t nearly represent the pain and suffering to those who have been sexually abused. It means that those people can go back to the court and try and have those deeds set aside and obtain fair and equitable compensation for what happened to them,” Mr O’Brien went on to say.
“As a lawyer who has represented many people in this situation, we hope that the law is put in place as quickly and as smoothly as it can be and those who are entrusted to represent the state quickly see to it that these sorts of matters are resolved as early as possible.”
O’BRIEN CRIMINAL & CIVIL SOLICITORS
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