Victims of child sexual abuse are no longer subject to time limits for claiming compensation, thanks to laws recently passed by the Queensland State Parliament.
Previously, sexual abuse victims had been subject to the same 3 year time limit applicable to other types of injury compensation claim, such as motor vehicle accidents and workplace injuries.
Where the abuse occurred during childhood, the time limit did not commence until the victim’s 18th birthday – being the date of of legal adulthood. This was of no assistance where the victim was usually still too young to process what had occurred and because of the stigma that once attached to those who wished to come forward. The result was that once persons had reached a point where they felt they could do something, they were no longer in any position to seek redress for what had occurred.
The time limit was previously heavily relied upon by church, school and government institutions to either deny claims altogether or pay only small amounts of compensation to victims.
The Limitation of Actions (Institutional Child Sexual Abuse) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 removes the civil statutory time limit for victims of sexual abuse.
The applies to all victims of sexual abuse, whether abused in an institution (such as a school or orphanage) or not.
The removal of time limits in Queensland reflects a broader community recognition of the tragic reality of child sexual abuse and its consequences, due in no small part to the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Commission has made a range of recommendations for the support of victims including a $4 billion national redress scheme, which would offer compensation, counselling and psychological care, and a response from the institution if requested.
The commission proposed the redress scheme would be funded by the institutions where the abuse occurred, or by governments if the abuse happened in a state-run facility or where a non-government institution no longer exists.