The issue of historical abuse is a complex and sensitive one that has come to the forefront of public consciousness in recent years. In New South Wales, survivors of historical abuse sought justice through various legal avenues, but the process can be difficult to navigate. It is important for individuals who have experienced historical abuse to understand their rights and options for seeking justice.
What is historical abuse?
Historical abuse refers to any form of abuse that occurred in the past, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.
Where can the abuse have occurred? Institutional settings such as schools, orphanages, or foster homes, or within families.
Who can it affect? individuals of any gender, race, religion, or socioeconomic background.
Types of Abuse:
- Physical Abuse: acts of violence such as hitting, beating, and other forms of physical aggression.
- Emotional abuse: includes verbal abuse, bullying, manipulation, and other forms of psychological harm.
- Sexual abuse: any unwanted sexual contact or attention, including rape, molestation, and sexual harassment.
- Financial abuse: theft, fraud, and coercion in relation to financial assets.
The effects of historical abuse can be severe and long-term, affecting an individual’s mental and physical health, relationships, and overall well-being.
However, seeking legal and professional support can be a necessary step in the process of healing and achieving closure and justice.
Challenges in addressing historical abuse
One of the main challenges in addressing historical abuse is that it often goes unreported for many years. As a result, in many cases, the abuser is deceased or unable to be held accountable. Additionally, the legal system can be complex and difficult to navigate for survivors, who may also be dealing with trauma and emotional distress.
Seeking justice for abuse
Despite these challenges, there are legal avenues available for survivors of historical abuse to seek justice and receive compensation. These include civil lawsuits, criminal charges, and alternative forms of redress such as apologies and memorials.
The Australian Government established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2013. This was to investigate and make recommendations for addressing historical abuse within institutions. The commission has since provided the National Redress Scheme.
- acknowledges that many children were sexually abused in Australian institutions
- recognises the harm caused by this abuse
- holds institutions accountable for this abuse
- helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse gain access to counselling and psychological services, a direct personal response, and a monetary payment
The Scheme started on 1 July 2018, and will run for 10 years.
Legal Assistance for Survivors: Where to Turn for Help
If you or someone you know experienced historical abuse, it is important to seek legal advice and support. Our law firm has experience in handling such cases. We can help
- guide you through the legal process,
- ensure that you understand your rights,
- and provide you with the support you need to seek justice.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today, our lawyers are here to help and support you.
Here are some of the support services that allow survivors to get the help that they need.
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
Talk with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter: 13YARN 13 92 76 (24 hours/7 days)
National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service: 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Rainbow Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Helpline: 1800 497 212 (10am-5pm/7 days)
Blue Knot Foundation: 1300 657 380 (Available 9 am to 5 pm AEST)
- phone and email-based support for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, as well as for their supporters and the professionals who work with them
If you need immediate help or danger, call 000.