*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in New South Wales.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (“Royal Commission”) found that children in juvenile detention and correctional centres had been victim to numerous incidents of sexual and physical abuse. Some of the institutions identified by the Royal Commission included the Tamworth Institution for Boys, Mount Penang Training School, Mittagong Training School for Boys and the Daruk Boys’ Home.
Turner Freeman has had the privilege of supporting survivors who suffered abuse in juvenile detention and correction centres through civil claims to obtain compensation for the harm they suffered.
The Royal Commission completed investigations to try and understand how the numerous incidents of child abuse had been able to occur in these institutions.
They found that these institutions were highly controlled and closed off from the outside world. The closed nature of the institutions operated to hide the abuse from the outside world. Further, parents and guardians were unable to be actively involved in the children’s lives. The children in turn, were unable to reach out to those they trusted in order to disclose the abuse and seek protection, causing them to be further vulnerable.
The Royal Commission found the power imbalance to be significant on the basis that the more power an adult possesses over a child, the better positioned they were to abuse them. It was also noted that the staff at the institutions tended to perceive the children as untrustworthy or in need of punishment or control.
The Royal Commission also identified there were strict power structures between staff and children at the institutions. The staff were found to have excessive power over the children.
The institutions operated with strict, uncompromising rules that resulted in the needs of the children often being overlooked, or worse dehumanised.
The Royal Commission noted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have been disproportionately represented in these institutions causing them to be further vulnerable bearing in mind the impacts of historical and intergenerational trauma they have faced.
As a result of the horrific stores shared by brave survivors, the Royal Commission devised a number of recommendations in order to minimise the risk of abuse occurring in the future.
Some of these recommendations include strict codes of conduct for staff members, a focus on providing a chid safe environment and ensuring children are able to express views and participate in decisions that affect their lives.
It is hoped that these changes may be the first step in preventing further wrongs and harm in the future.
Do you need help?
We recognise that survivors of childhood abuse are strong individuals who deserve the right to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered. We also understand that it can be difficult to know which pathway is the right one to choose. It is important to speak with a lawyer who is experienced in institutional abuse matters prior to accepting any offer of settlement.
Turner Freeman has a number of lawyers located throughout Australia with experience in institutional abuse. We invite survivors to contact our Sydney office on (02) 8222 3333 for a confidential and obligation free discussion to help inform them as to their rights and legal options.