How to Claim Compensation as a Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse

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If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse, you may be entitled to compensation.

We know that no amount of money will ever take away the pain and devastation for what happened, but financial compensation can help with funding psychological treatment, recovering income that has been lost, and compensating your pain and suffering.

We can help you to get financial compensation which can support you and some aspects of your life.

Who can I make a claim against?

Personal injury claims for sexual assault can be made against the perpetrator and/or organisation/s. 

You can sue the person who committed the criminal offence. In some cases, there will already have been criminal proceedings against this person.

In some circumstances, you can also sue an organisation who was responsible for the individual who committed the offence, particularly if the organisation or institution knew the abuse was happening, or they failed to take steps to prevent it happening. There have been cases against organisations such as schools, religious organisations (like the Catholic Church), sporting and scout clubs. This is because the law considers the organisation to be ‘vicariously liable’ for the actions of the abuser.

The National Redress Scheme

Another option available to survivors is the Australian Government’s National Redress Scheme.

The Scheme was created following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It provides support to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. This support could include counselling, support, and a monetary payment.

Institutions with a history of abuse can opt-in to the Scheme. As part of the Scheme, survivors will sign an agreement that prevents them making a civil claim against the institution at a later stage.

We recommend individuals seek legal advice before deciding whether they wish to participate in the Scheme, to help work out the best option for their circumstances.

How long do I have to make a claim?

In the ACT and NSW, there is no time limit to make a claim if the abuse occurred when you were a child, under 18 years.

It is common for people to not come forward until they are much older, years after the abuse occurred. The law recognises the many reasons why someone might not come forward until after the abuse.

What can I claim compensation for?

The compensation you receive is different for each individual case, but the most claimed items include:

  1. Compensation payments in recognition of your pain and suffering;
  2. Treatment costs for the past and future (including doctor appointments, psychologist appointments, psychiatrist appointments and medications); and
  3. Loss of income or earnings (including superannuation) for the past and future.

Aggravated or exemplary damages, which are designed to deter and to punish the abuser, are sometimes claimed as well.

Do I need to have reported the abuse to police?

You can make a personal injury claim against an individual or organization even if criminal charges haven’t been laid or haven’t been successful.

This is because the degree to which you will need to prove your case, ‘the standard of proof’, is lower for personal injury claims and other civil proceedings than for criminal proceedings.

If there have already been criminal proceedings against the individual or organization, this can provide useful information for your personal injury claim.

How can Elringtons help me?

We have experience working with survivors of child sexual abuse and we understand how incredibly difficult it can be for people to come forward and share such sensitive information.

Gabby Bridger is our solicitor who primarily works with survivors of child sexual abuse, along with other clients who have psychological injuries. Gabby is empathetic and understanding. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, which has given her a deeper understanding of trauma and psychological injuries. She works closely with Tom Maling, a former Registered Nurse who has worked in mental health settings, and continues to represent clients who have suffer psychological injuries.

We are happy to have an obligation-free and confidential discussion with you, or a family member or friend, to discuss options and how we can help you.

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