Australian State Allows Sex Abuse Victims To Sue Churches

Ria Das
Jun 11, 2018 13:24 IST
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In a revolutionary move, survivors of child sexual abuse will now be able to sue churches and other institutions following changes to New South Wales’s civil litigation laws, authorities confirmed. The landmark decision came in Australia's most populous state. The proposal came after a five-year royal commission.


Victims of child sex abuse or clerical abuse will have the full power to sue institutions such as churches after thousands of harrowing abuse cases were reported. The legislation include churches, orphanages, sporting clubs, youth groups and schools etc

This new civil litigation law in New South Wales state will allow claims of child abuse to be brought against organisations. Churches were not in the radar before. Their assets are held in a trust, and Australia’s courts have announced that the trustees of a trust can avoid liability for offences such as child sex abuse. But Attorney-General Mark Speakman confirmed the law on Sunday (June 10).

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“It’s staggering that these institutions in the past have been abject failures when it comes to reporting what has gone on,” Speakman said. “These reforms will make it easier for child sexual abuse survivors … to take action against those who have failed them in the past.”

This law came in the picture after the Catholic Church became the first non-government institution to join a national redress scheme for victims of institutional child sex abuse

"The NSW Government will remove legal barriers that have stopped survivors of child abuse from seeking the justice they deserve," Speakman said in a statement.


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In the state, more than 15,000 survivors detailed their claims and more than 4,000 institutions were accused of abuse

"The Royal Commission found many survivors felt let down by the current civil litigation system which made it difficult for them to seek damages and hold institutions to account."

“These reforms will provide access to new avenues to allow survivors to pursue compensation, so they can focus on recovering and moving forward with their lives,” Speakman said during a press meet, according to the AAP.

Australia's state governments have signed up to the programme offering victims up to Aus$150,000 ($114,000) in compensation.

Also read: How to handle cyber sexism? Stand up to it!

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