INSTITUTIONAL SEXUAL ABUSE
National Redress Scheme
The National Redress Scheme (“Redress”) is a compensation pathway for survivors who experienced Child Sexual Abuse as a child, in an institutional setting, where the institution was responsible for bringing you into contact with the person who abused you.
To be eligible to apply for the scheme, the abuse must have occurred before July 1 2018, when Redress came into existence. You can apply for compensation of up to $150,000, if the institution where the abuse took place has ‘opted into’ the scheme. Some of these institutions include schools, churches, youth groups, The Salvation Army, the YMCA and Scouts Australia.
Melbourne Lawyers & Mediators are experienced and compassionate to survivors who engage us to assist in their Redress applications. We understand that disclosing abuse can be a traumatic experience and we engage with our clients in a supportive and dedicated manner as we walk this pathway together.
Redress Scheme applications are assessed based on the ‘reasonable likelihood a person suffered institutional sexual abuse as a child’. This is particularly useful if survivors cannot recall details such as the offenders name, exact dates or specific locations.
Redress is an alternative to a civil case for child sexual abuse, and we are aware that the amount of compensation available to a victim under the Scheme is significantly less that what the victim may be otherwise entitled to.
In some instances, institutions where the abuse took place may not have ‘opted into’ the Redress Scheme. We investigate alternative avenues of compensation including your Common Law rights.
Please contact us for a confidential conversation about any abuse you may have suffered at the hands of persons associated with an institution. And please note that there are avenues of compensation available for survivors of physical and psychological abuse as well.
Melbourne Lawyers & Mediators is aware that many regional survivors are unable to access legal services for their sexual (and other) abuse compensation matters.
We have developed a regional program for referrals from anywhere in Victoria and Far Western NSW, where we travel to meet with clients in person in their hometown. We find that we are able to build one-on-one relationships with our clients from regional areas in a respectful and supportive context: in general we conduct monthly face to face meetings but have a flexible approach to clients’ needs and are able to accommodate more frequent consultations if required, including weekends.
Common Law Claims
In some cases, a Common Law claim may result in a better outcome for our clients. Although many people are intimidated by the cost and concept of ‘going to court’, in our experience the overwhelming majority of cases settle at mediation or conciliation before this occurs. In general, institutions will want to avoid the cost and public nature of a court case, especially if a claim is strong.
We are also very mindful of survivors’ welfare and strive to avoid them suffering further trauma. We negotiate with the parties on behalf of our clients and are able to minimize the effect on their lives by engaging in such a course of action.
Melbourne Lawyers & Mediators undertakes these claims, known as personal injury claims, on a no-win no-fee basis. Certain legal costs are incurred in the course of preparing and settling a claim, but a large portion of these are claimable from the other side if we are successful. If we are not successful, the client does not incur legal expenses.
We know that many Indigenous Australians have suffered sexual, physical and psychological abuse in state care, as members of the Stolen Generation or in other contexts. We are aware of the difficulties of these people getting access to justice, legal services, initiating claims and settling their matters.
We act on their behalf and again are willing to travel to communities in the identified regional areas to meet with survivors and discuss their matters. We are able to support such clients, who often face enormous disadvantage and vulnerabilities, through their matters. Whilst we do not have Indigenous lawyers or support staff on our team, we are willing to be guided by community leaders or elders, and have them present for consultations if the client wishes.
Setting Aside Deed of Release
Have you signed a Deed of Release that you think is unfair?
The Victorian Supreme Court has paved the way for victims of institutional sex abuse to pursue further legal action even if they previously signed a Deed of Release. Read more about the case here.