Improving access to justice for child sex abuse victims

Published Tuesday, 16 August, 2016 at 11:30 AM


Premier and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

The Palaszczuk Government is honouring its commitment to improve access to justice for child sex abuse victims with new legislation introduced into State Parliament, an issues paper on civil litigation reform and guidelines for the Government’s response to litigation involving child sexual abuse.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said legislation would remove the statute of limitations for victims of institutional child sexual abuse.

“My Government is proposing to remove the time barrier on justice for those Queensland victims of horrifying acts of abuse. The statute of limitations effectively barred these victims from making claims for damages,” the Premier said.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended the removal of limitation periods.”

“I have met with many survivors and I thank them for their bravery to share their experiences.”

My Government is determined to open the door to justice for these victims; the door has been closed for too many for too long.”

The Premier said the Australian Government must progress a national redress scheme for survivors.

“We discussed this at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra in April.   The Australian Government undertook to engage with all States and Territories on the next steps,” she said.

“I urge the Australian Government to deliver a national redress scheme and will raise it with the Prime Minister”.

Issues Paper 

Ms Palaszczuk said there would be consultation with stakeholders, including survivors, on broader civil litigation reform based on the Recommendations 85 to 95 of the Royal Commission’s Report through the release of an Issues Paper.

“Those recommendations include substantial issues of law that require consultation with stakeholders, which is why the issues paper is so important,” she said.

The key issues raised in the issue paper include:

• whether the Commission’s recommendation to remove limitations be extended beyond institutions to other settings, including families;

• whether other forms of abuse, such as physical abuse or related psychological abuse, be included; and

• whether the current scope of damages is sufficient.

Whole-of-Government Guidelines for responding to civil litigation involving child sexual abuse

Ms Palaszczuk said the Guidelines were intended to ensure a compassionate and consistent approach by Government and to make civil litigation less traumatic for victims.

“The Government has also given a commitment that it will not rely on deeds of release granted to recipients of redress under the Forde scheme, introduced following the Forde Inquiry into the Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions,” she said.

“Any payments received will be able to be taken into account by any court, but any deed of released signed will notprevent a survivor from commencing an action in the courts once the statute of limitations is lifted.”

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the legislation and accompanying Guidelines and Issues Paper are only the start of a process to help achieve justice for those who have suffered so much.

“I would like to thank the survivors, stakeholders and members of the legal profession who have worked tirelessly in this policy reform area,” said Mrs D’Ath.

“We will continue to work closely with them as we continue to progress this vital issue.”

Media contact: 0417 263 791