- In October, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issued its final Redress and Civil Litigation Report. The Report’s recommendations are relevant to practitioners advising clients who may be either survivors of abuse, or individuals and institutions responsible for abuse.
- The Report recommends a scheme be up and running by 2017, under which 60,000 estimated claimants would be eligible for direct personal responses from institutions along with counseling and psychological support and monetary payments.
- The Report also recommends the removal of limitation periods for civil claims and the imposition of a non-delegable duty on institutions for child abuse occurring within their care.
- A scheme to fund fixed price legal consultations for claimants offered payments is also recommended.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has issued a Redress and Civil Litigation Report which includes 650 pages and 99 recommendations. The recommendations have great significance for survivors and institutions, and also lawyers from whom survivors and institutions will seek advice.
The Report recommends a redress scheme that would offer sexual abuse survivors a direct personal response from institutions; counselling and psychological care; and monetary payments. The Report provides estimates of claim numbers and costs, and suggests how the costs should be funded. It also recommends removal of limitations for civil claims and the imposition of a non-delegable duty on institutions for child abuse occurring within their care.
The number of eligible survivors who will make claims is estimated at 60,000. The Report recommends that a single national redress scheme be established to ensure equal and transparent justice for all, rather than state or institutional based schemes. It proposes a timetable by which the scheme would be established and running by the first half of 2017. It estimates that it might take up to ten years to complete all claims.
The closest precedent for the scheme is the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce, (Defence Taskforce) which since 2013 has provided a range of outcomes, including counselling, a reparation payment scheme (capped at $50,000) and participation in a restorative engagement conference with a senior representative from Defence. The outcomes provided are for former and existing Australian Defence Force members who have suffered abuse (ranging from workplace bullying and harassment to serious sexual assault) during their service. It is useful to compare the recommendations of the Royal Commission with the success of the Defence Abuse Restorative Engagement Program.*