Sexual Abuse Claims – Summary

Sexual abuse can occur anywhere at any age. Whether it was the Catholic Church or a private/public school misusing or abusing their power, you can claim compensation at any time.

We understand that if you have suffered abuse that you are in pain. We also realise that your trust may have been betrayed which led to you being abused. We cannot ever make it right, but we can give you a voice and the legal support to get some justice through compensation. The guilty will not acknowledge their wrong-doing voluntarily – making a claim can bring you one step closer to reclaiming your life.

We will have your back the entire way should you choose to use our legal services.

Roche Legal currently only offers representation for victims of abuse that occurred in an institution. An ‘institution’ means an organisation of some kind such as a school or church.

Your Options to Making an Abuse Claim

Your potential avenues to access compensation in relation to the childhood sexual abuse are:

(1) Making an Application through the National Redress Scheme; or
(2) Pursuing a Common Law Claim for Damages for personal injuries (civil litigation).

Option 1: The National Redress Scheme

The national redress scheme has been in place since 1 July 2018 and in that regard, is a relatively new scheme and system for accessing compensation for victims of childhood sexual abuse. There are various requirements which need to be considered when establishing whether you are eligible to access compensation under the redress scheme, such as:

  1. You have been a victim of sexual abuse;
  2. You were under 18 years of age at the time of the abuse;
  3. The abuse occurred before 1 July 2018;
  4. The abuse occurred while you were under the care of an institution which has opted into the scheme (see a list of institutions);
  5. You were an Australian citizen at the time of the abuse;
  6. You are not currently in gaol and have never been incarcerated; and
  7. You have not already received a court ordered payment with respect to the abuse from the institution.

There are three components of the redress scheme which constitute the assistance you will receive:

  1. Free counselling;
  2. A direct personal response from the institution;
  3. Redress payment of up to $150,000.

Components 1 and 2 above are the same for all survivors of abuse and you will have the opportunity to access them.

Option 2: Common Law Claim for Damages (Civil Litigation)

A common law claim is a civil claim based in tort. It is a claim for damages for personal injuries arising out of the abuse you were subjected to as a minor whilst under the care of the institution. Unlike the redress scheme, a common law claim is not capped in terms of the potential damages that are recoverable.

There are two major aspects to a common law claim. The first is liability (including limitation arguments) and the second is quantum (the amount) of damages. In order to obtain any amount of money as compensation it is necessary to first establish that the institution is liable for the abuse you have suffered.

Liability

In order to establish liability you must demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that the Respondent:

  1. the Respondent owed you a duty of care; and
  2. the Respondent breached that duty of care (for example, the Respondent was aware, or ought to have been aware that the perpetrator had a propensity to inflict the type of abuse that he did, perhaps because he had done this before and the respondent knew that); and
  3. as a result of that breach, you suffered an injury.

Quantum

If you were to be successful in proving fault on the part of the institution, the amount of compensation you would receive is assessed in accordance with common law principles. The way that the amount of compensation is calculated under a civil claim for damages is by reference to a number of “Heads of Damage”. These include the following:

  • General Damages (Pain and Suffering)
  • Past and Future economic loss (loss of earnings or earning capacity)
  • Loss of Past and Future Superannuation
  • Interest on your past losses; and
  • Out of pocket expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions – Sexual Abuse Claims FAQ

Yes. Roche Legal offers No Win No Fee representation to everyone with a qualifying claim. Part of the qualification process for our firm is that the abuse occurred at the premises of an organisation (such as a school, boarding school, church, or child care centre, etc.). Contact us for a free initial consultation. We have offices in Brisbane, Springwood, and the Sunshine Coast.

It is vital to have legal representation in a claim for sexual abuse compensation. We will not pretend that it is easy. So it is important not only to stay strong but to also have strong lawyers. We will sit with you and go through the process so that you understand what is involved and what your legal rights are.

How we approach each claim for sexual abuse depends on the particular circumstances. Sometimes we might go through a full legal process whilst in other cases we might seek to obtain an informal settlement without the need for litigation. The appropriate strategy will be discussed with you in advance.

Claims such as these are one way to take back some control of your life – and even if you have already done this – it can help provide vindication and justice.

Abuse claims can be brought against the individual that was responsible for the abuse and/or the institution that allowed it to occur or continue.

Roche Legal currently only take on claims for institutional abuse – this means we only accept claims where the abuser was an institution/organisation such as the Catholic Church or another religious body, or a private school for example.

We may seek compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering incurred
  • Emotional, physical and psychological distress
  • Past, present and future medical treatment costs
  • Any past, present and/or future loss of income
  • Nursing assistance
  • Paid home help
  • Assistance by friends and family

What we claim for will vary from individual to individual, depending upon their respective circumstances.

We understand talking about the past can be extraordinarily difficult. You can take your time and communicate with us however you feel most comfortable, be it in person, at your home, in our office, over the phone, email or even text message. Our experienced and compassionate lawyers will keep everything 100% private and confidential to give you peace of mind.

You have to prove the incident or incidents in question occurred. This can sometimes be difficult so our lawyers will assist you however possible.

Civil Claims for Sexual Abuse:

  • If you were sexually abused as a child in Queensland, New South Wales, or Victoria, there is no time limit to bring a civil claim for compensation. Prior to 2016 time limits did exist but these limits have since been removed.
  • If you were abused as an adult, you have three (3) years from the date the abuse occurred to bring a civil claim against the offender. However, it may be possible to bring a claim outside this time limit – depending upon the circumstances.

Department Claims for Sexual Abuse and/or Sexual Harassment/Discrimination:

  • If you wish to make a complaint through the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (a process we strongly recommend) you have 12 months from the date of the incident to do so. The Commission can accept a complaint after 12 months has expired if there are good reasons for the delay.
  • If you wish to make a complaint through the Australian Human Rights Commission, you have 12 months from the date of the incident to do so. The Commission can accept a complaint after 12 months has expired if there are good reasons for the delay.
    • Update: For acts that took place after 13 April 2017, the timeframe for lodging complaints alleging unlawful discrimination is 6 months.

We cannot stress enough the importance of getting legal advice if you have been a victim of abuse so that you are not a victim of the legal system.

For claims made under the National Redress Scheme, a decision is usually made about 12 months after the lodgement of your application.

For common law claims, it depends on a number of factors including:

  • How easy or difficult it is to prove the abuse occurred.
  • Whether or not the offending party is still alive or the organisation at fault still in existence.
  • How committed you are to seeing it through.
  • The attitude of the person or organisation at fault.

We believe the quickest way to achieve a positive outcome satisfactory to you is to proceed to trial as quickly as possible whilst always remaining open to the possibility of an out of court settlement.

We do not believe in never-ending negotiations that may ultimately fail, only to find way down the track that still have to institute court proceedings.

Time delayed is time wasted. Justice delayed is justice denied. Contact us now for a strictly confidential obligation free consultation.