Sexual Abuse Reform

June 2019 – Better Support for Abuse Victims in Landmark Reforms

The Victorian Government is amending the Limitation of Actions Act 1958 (Vic) to allow a court to set aside a past settlement or court judgement relating to child abuse.

This landmark reform comes after The Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse found that on average, victims took 22 years to report the abuse. By the time survivors considered to take legal action, the short limitation periods would prevent them from receiving adequate legal assistance and often these victims would be required to sign a deed of release.

While it is unknown how many survivors may be cleared to take action under the reform, the Catholic Church’s controversial “Melbourne Response” compensation scheme is thought to have signed well over 500 victims to deeds of release.

Victoria is the first state to be leading the changes recommended through the Royal Commission and helping to improve the lives of the survivors that have had to endure years of suffering.

“Survivors of institutional abuse have already had to endure years of suffering and we’re doing everything we can to support them, and to make sure they have access to the compensation they deserve.”
– Attorney-General Jill Hennessy

What will the changes mean for me?

If you have entered into a historical agreement with any Victorian institution this may be overturned.

What this means for survivors of institutional abuse is that even though you may have signed a deed of release or a similar agreement not to pursue your matter any further, you are now entitled to apply to the courts to overturn historically unfair compensation payments.

This reform could change everything for many victims who had previously been given as little as $5000 by institutions in the past.

We can help you overturn historical settlement agreements with institutions such as;

The State of Victoria;

  • Various children’s homes
  • Students within public schools

The Catholic Church;

  • Settlements under the “Melbourne Response” compensation scheme
  • Settlements under “Towards Healing” compensation scheme

Or settlements with any other religious groups such as;

  • Christian Brothers
  • The Uniting Church
  • The Anglican Church
  • The Salvation Army
  • The Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall

This also includes Private Schools.

What if I received payment under the National Redress Scheme?

The cap on compensation under the Redress Scheme is limited to just $150,000. As an alternative, Arnold Thomas & Becker can assist with navigating civil claims for institutional sexual abuse. Settlement payouts from civil claims for institutional abuse can range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to in excess of $1 million dollars.

Whether you are considering accepting compensation under the redress scheme or have already, contact our team for free legal advice and to discuss your options.

What are the next steps?

It is known that thousands suffered sexual or other forms of abuse within Victorian Institutions as children or adults. Those who sought compensation often were given a small amount and forced to sign deeds of release while accepting the claim. With this Reform you are entitled to have your case reviewed by the courts with the potential of further compensation.

Whether you have received compensation before or are considering your rights, you can enquire urgently with Arnold Thomas and Becker today to discretely discuss your options and take steps to your recovery.