New Bill To Address Unfair Child Abuse Settlements

Many survivors of child abuse who felt forced to accept unjust settlements will be able to pursue fairer compensation under a Bill introduced to Parliament this week.

Baulkham Hills State Liberal MP David Elliott said these proposed laws will allow NSW courts to overturn certain settlement agreements for sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and other connected abuse.

“It is critical that survivors have access to justice for the horrific abuse they suffered as children in institutions where they should have been safe,” Mr Elliott said.

“These landmark reforms will provide a clear pathway for survivors to set aside unfair payouts and seek fairer compensation.”

In response to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the NSW Government introduced reforms in 2016 and 2018 removing barriers for survivors seeking civil justice. These included eliminating limitation periods for child abuse claims and abolishing the legal technicalities that allowed some institutions to avoid civil liability.

The Civil Liability Amendment (Child Abuse) Bill 2021 will allow survivors impacted by these legal barriers to have the same access to justice as those who brought a claim after the Government’s 2016 and 2018 reforms.

The Bill will also remove restrictions on personal injury claims for survivors of child abuse that occurred in custody.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the NSW Government has consulted survivors, legal groups and other affected members of the community on these proposed reforms which will go above and beyond the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

“We know from the harrowing accounts heard by the Royal Commission that many survivors, often suffering significant trauma, felt they had no choice but to accept inadequate settlements due to legal technicalities preventing them from suing responsible institutions,” Mr Speakman said.

“There has been widespread support across the community for these reforms and I am delighted to be taking this important step to support survivors to access the civil justice they deserve.”