Limitation period for non-institutional child sex abuse may be removed

By Felicity Caldwell
Brisbane Times
November 8, 2016

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has flagged the government's in-principal support for removing the limitations period for non-institutional child sexual abuse.
Photo by Amy Mitchell-Whittington

The Queensland government has flagged its support for changes that would remove the statute of limitations for children sexually abused outside of institutions.

Parliament is debating two bills on Tuesday that would remove limitation periods for victims to seek civil legal action.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said she noted the non-government members of the parliamentary committee which considered the bills recommended the limitation period also be removed for child sexual abuse in non-institutions.

"Subject to considering the wording of that amendment, the government indicates its in-principal support," Ms D'Ath said.

Ms D'Ath said it was important to have bi-partisanship when it came to tackling the issue of child sexual abuse.

The government had introduced a bill that would retrospectively abolish limitation periods for institution child sexual abuse.

Whereas a private member's bill from independent member for Cairns Rob Pyne would reintroduce the right to trial by jury for civil actions for personal injury arising from child abuse and remove civil statutory time limits for personal injury arising from child abuse.

It would also define child abuse as not restricted to an institutional context and include both sexual and serious physical abuse.

Ms D'Ath said it was important to introduce the laws sooner rather than later.

"Victims of institutional child sexual abuse have waited long enough to see the shadow of the limitation period removed to allow their claims to be determined on their merits," she said.

Ms D'Ath spoke about the stories of courageous survivors of child sexual abuse which were aired during the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

"The stories, though at times, harrowing and difficult, as we hear how these victims were as children subject to abuse at the hands of people who were entrusted with their care," she said.

"I acknowledge the courage and bravery of these people, who have made the significant decision to tell their decision in public."

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