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Compensation for survivors of institutional and sexual abuse in regional Victoria

Stringer Clark is part of the highly regarded law firm Ryan Carlisle Thomas ('RCT'), which operates out of Melbourne and where we have Victoria’s largest and one its most influential institutional abuse legal practices. Our lawyers at Ryan Carlisle Thomas have secured compensation for many survivors of institutional and sexual abuse service nationally including clients throughout South Western Victoria.

While these clients are serviced from Ryan Carlisle Thomas offices, our lawyers service regional Victorians and even survivors of abuse who now reside in other States. Importantly, our firm has created and maintains a database of evidence supplied by our clients in abuse compensation claims who have permitted their story to be used in support of other claims. The database includes details of known or suspected perpetrators and the institutions where the abuse is alleged to have occurred. This database gives us a better chance of being able to corroborate allegations of abuse and strengthen client’s claims for compensation, even where the abuse alleged was committed long ago or where records may be limited or no longer exist. 

The best chance survivors who are now living in regional Victoria have of securing a just settlement for compensation is through our team of experts. 

Further information 

Please visit the extensive Ryan Carlisle Thomas institutional and sexual abuse web page for further information on how to make a claim, types of compensation available, and additional resources including video .

The prevalence of sexual abuse in regional Victoria

It is unfortunate that country and regional Victoria has an unenviable reputation of being home to several known hotspots of sexual abuse such as Ballarat, Geelong and Colac.

Of the more than 2,500 clients for whom we acted, one quarter are from the regional and rural areas of Victoria.

While the Royal Commission has been important in exposing institutional responses to child sexual abuse and has encouraged more survivors to speak out about their suffering, we know that many people are still reluctant to come forward about the abuse they suffered because they continue to suffer from the long lasting effects and can be daunted by the legal obstacles faced in seeking compensation.

The survivors who have come forward have shown great courage in telling their stories, and they are often badly in need of financial help, including medical support, in order to retrieve their lives. Our firm provides clear advice and fights to just compensation for these people seeking not just money but acknowledgement and apologies.

Here is a sample of some of our blogs about abuse in regional Victoria

Will moral doubts prompt Pell's hand
Ballarat abuse survivors positive about Royal Commission progress
Royal Commission begins landmark Ballarat public hearings
Ballarat abuse survivors call for urgent redress at Royal Commission
Ridsdale says senior Ballarat cleric knew of his offending
Christian Brother jailed for sexual abuse of boys at Geelong orphanage
Geelong Grammar and Warrnambool abuse survivors meet with Royal Commission

Redress, compensation for institutional and sexual abuse

Established in January 2013, the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse (https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au) is Australia’s largest-ever national inquiry into child sexual abuse. Over the past two years, the Commission has held dozens of private and public hearings across Australia to gather evidence from survivors and institutional leaders about how and why abuse happened and how institutions handled abuse complaints. Many of our clients have given evidence to the Royal Commission and found it to be a valuable way of putting their abuse story on the public record. The Commission is due to deliver its final report to the Federal government in December 2017.

While the Royal Commission is yet to release its final report, it has recommended that a national redress scheme to compensate survivors be set up, and that the Commonwealth Government be a “funder of last resort” where additional funds are needed to make good on compensation claims.

In the meantime, we encourage clients to pursue their entitlements to compensation now where feasible in order to take advantage of existing redress schemes already in existence, including under a protocol that we negotiated with the Victorian State Government where payments may be made to survivors of abuse at the hands of government institutions.  

Legal action is also often possible through the courts, where there is sufficient evidence to support claims. 

However, most of our cases for compensation are settled outside the court system.

What we believe should happen

As a law firm who has been a high profile advocate on behalf of survivors, we believe:

  • Institutions should pay compensation – Offending institutions, whether government-run, religious or otherwise, should contribute money to setting up a compensation scheme for abuse survivors.
  • Don’t add insult to injury – Money awarded as compensation must be decent and just, and allow survivors who have previously settled for small ex gratia amounts to “top up” their compensation.
  • Don’t let legal fees erode compensation - Any current or future legal avenues to compensation should maximise the amount payable to survivors and ensure access to inexpensive legal representation.
  • Abolish the “Ellis Defence” - The Royal Commission must recommend changes to the law that prevents religious institutions such as the Catholic Church from shielding itself against having to pay civil damages to abuse survivors. The Victorian Government is also currently looking at this issue.
  • It’s about more than money – counselling and genuine apologies from offending institutions and individuals should accompany all offers of compensation.

Keeping up with current developments 

We undertake to keep our clients up to date with the latest news and information on institutional abuse generally, and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse specifically. We regularly write to our clients to advise them on on how any changes in the law may affect their legal rights including updates regarding any developments of a redress scheme.

We also blog regularly on news and events in this area. You can read our legal blog or follow RCT on Twitter and Stringer Clark on Twitter to keep up with news in this area.

If you have been a victim of abuse or any other crime, or know of someone who has, please call us on 1800 641 743 or find us at an office near you.