Sarah Gerath, Time limit on suing for damages following child sex abuse removed by New South Wales Parliament, ABC

Child sexual abuse survivors will be able to make civil claims regardless of the date of an alleged incident under legislation being introduced into New South Wales Parliament today.

Key points:

The legislation removes the time limit on civil claims for child sexual abuse
The change is part of NSW Government’s response to the child sex abuse royal commission
Survivor support groups continue to call for a national redress scheme
The Government flagged last year that it was considering removing the time limit on suing for damages as part of its response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“There should be no use-by date for justice for survivors of child abuse,” Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said.

“This change will remove a significant barrier in the way of that justice.”

Under existing laws, victims of child sexual abuse in NSW typically have had between three and 12 years to pursue compensation in a civil court before the statute of limitations can be used to block their claims.

National redress scheme still needed, survivors groups say

Groups representing survivors of institutional abuse have welcomed the move but said it was long overdue.

Care Leavers of Australia Network (CLAN) spokeswoman Leonie Sheedy said the Government needed to ensure there was adequate support for people who wanted to make claims.

“It costs a lot of money to deal with lawyers and we are not like the middle classes, we have lived very marginalised lives, we’ve got limited education,” she said.

She said all governments needed to work together to quickly set up a full national redress scheme, as it was difficult for survivors to pursue civil claims.

“A lot of survivors haven’t got the emotional energy to take a civil case to the courts, they don’t have the financial means and they don’t have the emotional energy to do that … they want justice through a national redress scheme,” she said.

Ms Upton said discussions were continuing with the Commonwealth and other State and Territories about a redress scheme that could accept applications from survivors by no later than July 2017, as recommended by the royal commission.

She said the State Government believed a single national redress scheme for survivors was the best way to ensure consistent, accessible justice for survivors regardless of where the abuse occurred.

Ms Upton said the State Government would also take further steps this year to address the royal commission’s other recommendations on redress and civil litigation.

“We know there is more to do, and the NSW Government will release a consultation paper in the coming months in relation to the royal commission’s other civil litigation recommendations,” Ms Upton said.

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