sexual, physical & institutional abuse.

it is common for survivors of abuse to have suffered in silence for a long time, sometimes most of their lives.

Although nothing can erase the pain and impact of the abuse, you may be able to claim a financial resolution to help support you and receive a meaningful apology and acknowledgement from those who harmed you.

It is important that survivors who have been physically and sexually abused whether in an institution, sporting organisation or by an individual know their legal options. Our experienced team are all trauma informed and can walk survivors through their legal options with knowing how difficult it is for their story to be retold.

Following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, survivors now have options available to them which weren’t previously available. These include potential claims for common law damages, a redress application under the National Redress Scheme and various other redress schemes for specific institutions. In some cases, even previous settlements of claims can be re-negotiated.

Survivors now have choices they never had before but it is important that survivors obtain legal advice from lawyers experienced in this area about which is the best option for them, so they don’t choose the wrong path. We provide legal assistance and guidance to survivors of abuse from a wide variety of institutions, organisations and individuals, including:

  • Sporting institutions such as the Australian Institute of Sport (for child scholarship holders)
  • Churches, including the Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Uniting Church, United Protestant Association and Presbyterian Church.
  • State run institutions, including boys and girls homes, mission farms, detention centres, training schools and children in foster care
  • Private institutions such as Hopewood Homes.
  • Schools, including state, church and privately run schools.
  • Organisations such as Scouts NSW, Scouts Australia and local Councils.
  • Commonwealth run institutions including boys and girls homes and remand centres.
  • Sporting groups such as Surf Life Saving Australia and State surf clubs.
  • The perpetrators of the criminal acts.
  • Child migrants.
  • Australian Defence Force.

revisiting earlier settlements and judgments.

Out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse came a recommendation that Survivors who have received monetary payments in the past – whether under other redress schemes, statutory victims of crime schemes, through civil litigation or otherwise – should be eligible to be assessed for a monetary payment under redress.

Some states have enacted legislation permitting finalised compensation claims to be revisited, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory. These new laws provides for applications to be set aside earlier judgments or settlements in relation to child sexual abuse causes of action, on the basis that it is just and reasonable to do so. While not all states have enacted these laws, there may be another way you can overcome a prior settlement agreement and obtain a further settlement for the abuse suffered.

Contact us if you would like advice on whether your previous settlement agreement can be set aside.

what factors may affect your ability to make a claim?

Many factors may affect your ability to make a claim, including:

  • Who perpetrated the abuse, and did they act alone or as part of an organisation or institution?
  • Does the institution still exist?
  • When did the abuse occur?
  • What evidence is available about the abuse, and the institution at the time the abuse occurred
  • What impact has the abuse had on your life? Have there been other traumatic events in your life?
  • Do you have eligibility to make a claim under a redress scheme or have you previously received a payment for the abuse?

what are the time limits for making a claim?

Laws in Australia relating to time limits for bringing claims have changed so that there is no longer a limitation period preventing survivors from commencing claims in court. Courts though still have the ability to stop claims from proceeding if institutions can prove that the events happened so far in the past that there is no longer enough evidence available for a court to properly assess the claim.

Whether or not this would prevent claims from going ahead will depend upon the particular circumstances of each claim, and in our experience many institutions are willing to negotiate settlements with survivors even for abuse that happened decades in the past.

Sexual abuse can be a complex area of law, if you think you may have a claim we recommend contacting us so we can advise you on your individual circumstances.

initial consultation.

In order to give you the best legal advice, we need to hear your story. We realise it is important that you feel comfortable sharing your story. We are happy to meet with you at a place and time suitable for you. We can meet face to face, by Zoom, Teams or telephone. There will be no charge for the initial consultation if you decide not to proceed with a claim.

no win, no fee.

At Donaldson Law, we believe in always being upfront about our costs. Not all No Win, No Fee agreements are created equally, find out what makes ours different.

support services.

We encourage you to talk to and rely on the support of family, friends and professional services.