Time Limits Cut for Nsw Abuse Victims
By Siver Times
March 9, 2016
Victims of child sexual and physical abuse will no longer face restrictive limitation periods when seeking compensation in NSW.
State parliament on Wednesday voted to remove the limitation periods that have previously blocked claims made more than three years after abuse occurred.
About 22,000 people are expected to benefit from the change, which was one of 99 recommendations made by the abuse royal commission last year.
Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the bill delivered a measure of real justice for victims of historic abuse.
"We know that it can take decades for survivors to be able to talk about their experiences, let alone find the courage to bring a claim for damages, and this reform reflects that reality," he said.
"This is undoubtedly a win for survivors of abuse who have been bravely campaigning to lift the statute of limitations for historic abuse claims for over a decade."
Lawyer Fiona Seaton, whose firm is representing 100 clients in abuse claims, said some institutions had been prepared to settle regardless of the limitation period, but the old laws were a factor in some victims accepting lower settlement amounts.
She said the change would be retrospective, as the royal commission had recommended.
"This legislative change not only assists future claimants, but those whose past legal action failed due to the limitation period, who will now be able to make a new claim," she said.
She said other barriers - including to identify the proper defendant in a claim against religious organisations - now needed to be addressed.
NSW is the second state after Victoria to make the change.
The Greens, with support from Labor, also sought to remove the word "serious" as a qualifier of physical abuse, but that did not succeed.
Mr Shoebridge said the removal of limitation periods was just the start and urged NSW to take the lead to implement the royal commission's redress recommendations.