Child sexual abuse survivors often don’t speak out until they are adults, if at all. Many survivors find it very difficult to report the abuse to authorities. In the past, an adult survivor of child sexual abuse may have found that the time limit had expired and this stopped them from seeking justice when they felt able to. As a result, the perpetrator may have escaped punishment and liability because the survivor didn’t bring the matter to court before the time limit expired. This is often referred to as a statute of limitations.
Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers explain two changes which may bring hope for survivors of abuse.
Removal of time limits: Claims Against Paedophiles
In June 2017, the ACT amended legislation to remove the prior time limit or statute of limitations bar on these types of matters. The legislation now clearly states “An action is maintainable at any time and is not subject to any limitation period under this Act, despite anything elsewhere in this Act or another territory law.” This allows alleged survivors of child sexual abuse to seek compensation.
You may recall that a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was the removal of any limitation period that applied to a claim for damages brought by anyone who suffered abuse in an institutional context while they were a child.
This step brings the ACT into line with NSW and Victoria. It is worth noting that the legislation in NSW allows alleged survivors to bring an action on a previously time-barred case.
Passport control changes
Australia is about to get even tougher with international sex tourism by convicted Australian paedophiles. Passport legislation has been foreshadowed to impact 20,000 convicted paedophiles on Australia’s child sex offender list, who would then face a lifetime ban from overseas travel. Passports would be cancelled, and only ‘less serious’ offenders who comply with reporting conditions may be eligible to have their passports renewed. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the measure was a “world first”. Please consider the ABC for recent developments in this area.
We look forward to reviewing the draft legislation once publically available and will provide a further update when final changes have been made to the Australian Passports Act and the Criminal Code Act.
How can Snedden Hall & Gallop Assist you?
If you have suffered injury or someone you know has suffered injury or death, arising substantially from sexual abuse as a child (including as a witness), they may still be able to make a claim against that abuser and hold them accountable. Should you wish to confidentially discuss your claim, please give us a call. We will support you with a competitive fee structure to maximise your compensation entitlements. (Unfortunately, these matters are not generally eligible under a no-win, no-fee arrangement.)