Victims of sexual abuse one step closer to justice with removal of statute of limitations

The Greens have welcomed the move by the NSW Attorney General to remove the statute of limitations for historical sexual abuse claims. This is a long overdue reform that will remove one barrier to justice for victims of historic sexual abuse.

Removing the statute of limitations is a core recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse as part of a far more comprehensive redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse in institutions.

Without this law reform the statute of limitations requires victims of child sexual abuse to bring their compensation claims within three years of turning 18 years of age. Numerous studies have shown this time limit is grossly unfair with the media time in which victims are able to seek help for child abuse being in excess of 20 years after the abuse occurred.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald:

NSW will scrap the time limit for civil claims by survivors of child sexual abuse against their abusers.

Attorney-general Gabrielle Upton will introduce legislation to the NSW Parliament on Tuesday which will allow survivors of child abuse claim for damages regardless of when it occurred.

There is currently a three-year limit on bringing civil actions against perpetrators or, if the person was a child at the time, three years after they turn 18.

Victoria scrapped the statute of limitations for civil action by child sexual abuse survivors a year ago.

The move is one part of the NSW Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“The statute of limitations defence has become a weapon that is too often used by unscrupulous defendants to prevent victims of historic sexual abuse from receiving just compensation.

“The Greens warmly welcome the removal of the statute of limitations for abuse claims.

“We strongly support this reform, even if it has been so slow in coming, being almost a year after Victoria removed this unfair hurdle for victims.

“In 2015 the Greens moved a private members bill to deliver this reform, but which party moves the Bill is not the issue. It is well past time the whole of the Parliament got behind this reform.

“While we will be closely reviewing the bill to ensure it is comprehensive, this is undoubtedly a win for survivors of abuse who have been campaigning for this reform for over a decade.

“We know that it can take decades for survivors to be able to talk about their experience, let alone find the courage to bring a claim for civil compensation, and this reform reflects that reality.” Mr Shoebridge said

David’s 2014 version of the bill and second reading speech are here

David’s 2015 version of the bill and second reading speech are here

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