Law Council: Government should embrace the Royal Commission’s recommendations
The Law Council of Australia has called on the Federal Government to embrace a key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: the establishment of a single national redress scheme.
Law Council President Mr Duncan McConnel said it was critical that survivors of institutional child sexual abuse had access to redress.
“The injuries that have been suffered by people who were subjected to child sexual abuse in institutions are often uniquely severe and long lasting,” Mr McConnel noted.
“The severity and taboo nature of the abuse suffered has often meant survivors of child sexual abuse have been unable to seek compensation for their injuries in the normal way that Australians would generally expect. “A national scheme is therefore needed, as the most effective structure for ensuring justice for survivors of child sexual abuse. The lack of consistency between institutional and State and Territory Government responses has created inequality between survivors of abuse in institutional settings. This should be addressed as the Commission recommends.”
The Law Council welcomed a range of recommendations made by the Royal Commission in its final report on redress and civil litigation.
A number of key recommendations made by the Law Council in its submission and appearance before the Royal Commission have been supported in the report, including:
- The establishment of a single national redress scheme, with the Australian Government and State and Territory Governments as funders of last resort
- Funding for support services and community legal centres to assist applicants in applying for redress
- Legislative reforms by State and Territory Governments so that liabilities can be met by an institution’s property trust and limitation periods for child sexual abuse claims
“The Commission’s report makes it clear that our society’s failure to protect children across generations means there is now a pressing need to provide avenues through which survivors can obtain appropriate redress for past abuse,” Mr McConnel said.
“If we are to do this effectively then we have to recognise that many of the institutions in question may be unable to provide that redress. This might be because they operate in a different form, because they are insolvent, or because they have simply closed completely.
“A national redress scheme should be in addition to protecting a claimant’s rights at common law. Civil litigation should still be available as an option. Legislative reforms are vital to removing unnecessary obstacles and ensuring that justice can flow to survivors of child sexual abuse.
“I am very happy to see the Royal Commission agrees with the recommendations made by the Law Council. I will be strongly urging the nation’s elected representatives to back the important reform the Commission recommends.”
Karuna Gurung, Acting Director of Communications P. 02 6246 3715 // M. 0439 978 429 E. email@example.com // www.lawcouncil.asn.au