Abuse Law and the Clergy

Abuse Law and the Clergy

Church sexual abuse cases: The Clergy has failed us

The Catholic Church in Australia has been forced to admit its extensive failings over several decades relating to widespread child sexual abuse throughout several institutions. Landmark proceedings like the Royal Commission into Child Abuse represent the resolve of our community to eradicate these horrific crimes from society to protect future generations.

However, at the individual level, there is still much work to be done to repair the lives of those who suffered.

Healing through justice

Throughout Australia, Catholic priest abuse has become a severely heinous phenomena.

For the survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members entrusted with power and responsibility, the process of healing involves facing the past as much as it involves planning for the future.

This is a harrowing experience, but necessary for achieving justice and compensation through the Australian legal system. Kelso Lawyers specialise in guiding the healing process and achieving the most favourable outcome for all survivors.

We understand the long-lasting effects of childhood trauma and how this can manifest later in life. Careers, relationships and well-being can suffer as a result of sexual abuse. Sadly, much like the abuse itself, this suffering happens alone or behind closed doors.

Legal survivors of clergy abuse and Catholic preist abuse in Australia

The team at Kelso Lawyers are committed to providing you with expert legal support and guidance throughout the compensation process. For many people that suffered institutional abuse by predatory clergy members during their childhood, initiating any kind of legal process can feel overwhelming and even pointless. Kelso Lawyers are clergy abuse compensation specialists.

We understand the difference a compensation claim can make to person’s future. Since 1988, Kelso Lawyers have helped hundreds of survivors of child abuse to achieve compensation payments on a no-win, no-fee cost agreement.

If you are ready to make a claim for compensation, take the first step by contacting us by clicking the button below.

FAQS on the Royal Commission

State and Federal governments can instigate various types of inquiries. A Royal Commission has the most far reaching powers to investigate, gather evidence and question witnesses. It is commissioned in the name of the Queen by the Governor General of Australia.A Royal Commission is bound to investigate issues set out in its ‘Terms of Reference’. These are the matters which the Crown wants investigated. At times you may find yourself wondering why the Royal Commission is not investigating a particular area of child abuse, such as family violence or physical abuse. This is because these issues are not included in this Commission’s Terms of Reference.
It is also important to understand that a Royal Commission is not a court. Although it looks a lot like a court, and hearings are usually held in a courtroom with judges, lawyers and barristers, a Royal Commission’s sole function is to investigate, collect information and provide recommendations to governments and institutions.

Royal Commission hearings are much more flexible than courts. They are not bound by rules of evidence. Witnesses can be directly questioned by Commissioners and procedures can be relaxed to accommodate the needs of survivors. However, it is also important to realise that the Royal Commission will not usually comment on whether an allegation is true or false, or if someone is guilty or innocent. That is a function for the courts. In saying that, it is not uncommon for the Royal Commission to pass evidence on to police in order to assist a criminal investigation.

Former Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard and former Attorney General, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP announced the Royal Commission in November 2012. The Terms of Reference were established and six Commissioners were appointed in January 2013. The first public hearing commenced in September 2013.

The Royal Commission was initially funded to run until the end of 2015, but requested a two-year extension, which was granted by the Federal Government. The Commission’s final report was handed down on 15 December 2017.

In 2015, the Royal Commission recommended that the Federal Government establish a national redress scheme to provide the survivors of institutional child sex abuse with equitable access to compensation.

The scheme – which is expected to cost more than $4 billion — would be funded by the institutions in which abuse has taken place. The Commission has recommended that the redress scheme be in place no later than July 2017. The redress scheme is yet to be launched officially.

In the meantime, child sex abuse survivors are able to pursue compensation claims through a civil litigation process. This is separate to the Royal Commission proceedings.

Kelso Lawyers have a strong history of assisting victims of crime, going back as far as 1988. We are committed to providing regular and accurate updates about the Royal Commission, both on this website and on our dedicated Facebook page.

There are ten steps to claiming compensation:

1. Complete a Claimant Information Form or phone Kelso Lawyers.
2. Claim assessed for eligibility for compensation.
3. Have a personal conversation with founder and principal, Peter Kelso.
4. Receive a letter of introduction and our Conditional Costs Agreement. These documents need to be signed and returned before we commence proceedings.
5. Ensure that you have a professional and personal support network in place.
6. Case assigned to one of Kelso Lawyers’ experienced solicitors to prepare the case.
7. Make a statement.
8. Attend mediation where compensation payment will be determined and a verbal and written apology made.
9. Notify relevant Government agencies of impending compensation payment.
10. Receive compensation and an apology.

Yes you can sue the individuals if they have abused you. However, we recommend attempting to achieve compensation through the relevant government bodies. Since the landmark Armes v Nottinghamshire County Council case ruling, the British legal system has opened a window of opportunity for victims of abuse to pursue the local government for compensation in abuse cases.

Every case is different depending on the claim – however most compensation claims are finalised in around 12 months.

No, you won’t have to face your perpetrator. You will meet with senior representatives of the church, institution, government department, but you will not have to face your abuser.

The team here at Kelso Lawyers aren’t certified medical professionals, however we have an extensive list of support services we recommend for victims of abuse. Please refer to the page for the specific support group you require.