Queensland closes loopholes to allow more child abuse victims to sue churches and institutions

abused girl crying with perpetrator behind her

Survivors of psychological and serious physical abuse in Queensland institutions will now be able to sue for damages under state law reforms that aim to abolish unfair loopholes.

Amendments to a bill before State Parliament will remove limitation periods preventing survivors from taking legal action against an institution.

Currently, only survivors of child sexual abuse are able to pursue historical claims in Queensland.

The new rules will expand the injuries covered to include serious physical abuse and psychological abuse. This will cover victims of beatings, whippings, torture and prolonged isolation.

Violence that has caused brain damage, open wounds, fractures, dislocations, joint damage, spinal injury, broken teeth, bruising, cuts and abrasions are likely to be included in the definition of “serious physical abuse”.

This will bring the Queensland laws in line with the New South Wales reforms.

The “reverse onus”

The move will allow both incorporated and unincorporated institutions to be held accountable while a reverse onus on institutions will be introduced.

The “reverse onus” means the State Government, churches and other institutions will need to prove they took all possible steps to prevent child abuse in their care, rather than the victim having the hard task of proving the institutions were legally negligent.

Bob Atkinson, who served for five years as a commissioner in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said the amendments would give more victims the chance to pursue justice.

Some of that physical abuse was sadistic, and brutal and repeated,” he said.

It almost defied belief that the people who had the care of these children, many of whom were in orphanages, could conduct themselves in the way they did, and it had a profound lifelong harmful effect on those kids.”

Victims and survivors of physical or psychological abuse cannot access compensation under the National Redress Scheme.

This is a major flaw in the National Redress Scheme which has been divisive and traumatising.

At Kelso Lawyers, we’re here to help survivors of institutional abuse navigate the National Redress Scheme and claim the compensation they deserve.

Get the justice you deserve with Kelso Lawyers. We want to hear your story. Call (02) 4907 4200 or complete the online form before you accept payment from the National Redress Scheme.

Image: Sydney Morning Herald

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