VIDEO: Hiding Behind Tombstones: The new legal tactics blocking justice for survivors

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC [Sydney, Australia]

May 24, 2023

[See trailer here.]

Five years on from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, survivors seeking compensation in civil claims are being thwarted by extraordinary legal tactics that they say make their quest for proper compensation harder than ever.

The Royal Commission was meant to make it easier for victims to seek justice, but a fierce battleground is emerging which is flying in the face of law reforms recommended by the historic inquiry and enacted by parliaments.

In this week’s Four Corners, Louise Milligan goes inside the legal fight as lawyers representing victims face institutions pushing to have cases thrown out of court altogether.

In one case, a survivor faces losing his house due to legal costs as he’s denied the right to sue the organisation even though his convicted perpetrator is alive, in jail, and willing to give evidence.

Another institution is threatening to prevent an Aboriginal woman from seeking compensation through the courts because the perpetrator, who had been charged in relation to abuse of dozens of First Nations children, died shortly before his criminal trial.

In a third, an institution turned on a family member of a victim of a convicted paedophile, seeking costs from them because it argued they should have known that the priest was a predator.

This powerful investigation reveals the extent to which some of the institutions will go to, say survivors and their lawyers, to save money.

Hiding Behind Tombstones reported by Louise Milligan goes to air on Monday 29th May at 8.30pm on ABC TV and iview.