Please select your state

We will show you information specific to your state.

Home | Compensation Law | Institutional Abuse

Institutional Abuse

Turner Freeman Lawyers represents men and women who were abused as children in compensation cases against government and non-government organisations.

You may be entitled to compensation if you were sexually or physically abused as a child by someone in an organisation, such as a priest, religious brother, school teacher or other worker, or while you were a child in the care of an organisation or government department.

‘Abuse’ might include sexual abuse or physical abuse, or both.

If this is the right time for you to act on the crimes committed against you, please contact Turner Freeman Lawyers for confidential help. Similarly, if you know something that might be relevant to our investigations, please contact us.

You can find out more about your legal options and how Turner Freeman Lawyers can help you by looking at our Frequently Asked Questions section below.

Institutional Abuse Lawyers

FAQ

Why should I ask for compensation?

Why should I ask for compensation?

We have learnt through our work with survivors of abuse that everybody decides to act on the crimes committed against them for their own personal reasons.

It might be about breaking the silence that previously bound you; being heard, respected and acknowledged; seeing that justice is served; holding an organisation to account; and about receiving money to assist you with your healing and future plans.

Look here for help if you are thinking about reporting the crimes to the police.

Turner Freeman Lawyers helps survivors of abuse to obtain compensation for the harm caused by the abuse. While money cannot undo the crimes or how they have affected you, it might improve the quality of your life, assist in your healing and allow you to provide for a better future for your family.

What are my rights to compensation?

What are my rights to compensation?

There are several options available to a survivor of abuse to apply for compensation.

You might be able to:

  1. bring a common law claim for personal injury damages against the organisation and/or abuser;
  2. apply for payments under victims of crime legislation;
  3. where applicable, apply to the court sentencing the abuser for an order that the abuser pay you compensation directly;
  4. where applicable, apply to the National Redress Scheme to be established in 2018.

Turner Freeman Lawyers can discuss these options with you and give you legal advice about which option might be best for you.

Should I apply under the National Redress Scheme?

It is very important that survivors of child sexual abuse understand that the National Redress Scheme (NRS) will ask them to sign away their civil rights for compensation in exchange for a redress payment under the NRS. You will be asked to sign a document called a “Deed of Release”.

Survivors should speak to a lawyer before they accept a payment under the NRS and enter a Deed of Release because some survivors might be entitled to more money than the NRS is able to offer.

The decision to accept a payment under the NRS may have significant consequences. For example, in 2018 a Victorian court awarded a survivor $717,000 for sexual abuse committed in the early 1970s by his school teacher. Under the NRS, this particular survivor would only have received a maximum payment of $50,000.

You can contact Turner Freeman Lawyers for advice on these issues.

What rights will the National Redress Scheme ask me to sign away?

After you submit an application for a redress payment, the NRS will consider your eligibility and how much money you should be paid. If they accept your application, they will make an offer to you.

You will usually have 6 months from the date of the offer to either accept or reject the offer.

If you reject the offer, you cannot apply under the NRS again.

If you accept the offer, you will be asked to sign a Deed of Release.

The law setting up the NRS says you must sign a Deed of Release before the NRS can make a redress payment to you.

You will be provided with a Deed of Release. The Deed of Release will say that:

  1. You cannot bring a civil claim later against the institution responsible for the abuse;
  2. You cannot bring a civil claim later against any officials of the institution, except for the abuser; and
  3. You cannot continue a civil claim already made against the institution.

It is very important that you obtain legal advice on whether to accept a payment under the NRS. You may be entitled to more money than the NRS is able to offer.

What is a ‘common law’ claim?

What is a ‘common law’ claim?

You might be entitled to bring a common law claim for personal injury if you were sexually abused while involved with an organisation.

This type of claim can usually be made where we can show that:

  1. an organisation’s worker committed the abuse (“vicarious liability”); or
  2. the institution knew or ought to have known about the risk of abuse but failed to take steps to stop it from happening.

In a successful claim, you can be paid an amount of lump sum compensation for pain and suffering, past and future loss of earnings, the costs of medical treatment and care and assistance required because of the injury.

Are there time limits to make a common law claim?

Are there time limits to make a common law claim?

No. In New South Wales, there is no longer a time limit within which you must start action in court for a common law claim based on child sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.

However, it is important to act as soon as you feel able to, as courts can still stop any claim where delay might cause an unfair trial to be held.

Do the police need to charge the abuser?

Do the police need to charge the abuser?

The abuser does not need to have been charged by police in order for you to bring a common law claim.

Should I go to the police?

Should I go to the police?

It is your decision as to whether you wish to contact the police. If you decide you do not want to contact the police, then this will not affect your ability to bring a common law claim.

If you do decide to contact the police, then there are a range of different reporting options available and many organisations can support you with this process.

You can contact the NSW Police Force Customer Assistance Line on 13 14 44. Alternatively, you can provide information to the NSW Police Force without the matter being formal investigated by completing the Sexual Assault Reporting Option (SARO) questionnaire.

NSW Victims Services also has detailed information on reporting sexual assaults.

Do I have enough evidence for a common law claim?

Do I have enough evidence for a common law claim?

Many survivors of abuse might worry about whether there is enough evidence for them to act on the abuse or to make a common law claim. But it is important to remember that what you say is evidence; indeed, it is the most important evidence, and there are a range of legal strategies that can be used to effectively build your case.

Australian history shows us that child sexual abuse has been widespread and that many organisations and governments have often known about it for a long time.

Turner Freeman can assist you to gather evidence from relevant organisations and work closely with you to articulate your story.

Will I have to go to court?

Will I have to go to court?

In the majority of cases, Turner Freeman can negotiate and settle a claim for you without the need to go to court. If necessary, we will take your claim to court, but we will only do this after speaking with you first.

Counselling and other support

Counselling and other support

There are a range of free counselling options available to survivors of abuse. These include speaking to your General Practitioner about a referral to a counsellor under a Mental Health Care Plan, using the Approved Counselling Scheme run by NSW Victims Services or accessing one of the services funded by the Commonwealth Government for the Royal Commission.

NSW Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme

NSW Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme

The NSW State Government has established a redress scheme for members of the Stolen Generations. More information can be found here.

What is your fee policy in institutional abuse claims?

What is the fee policy in institutional abuse claims?

No Win No Fee Personal Injury Lawyers | Turner Freeman NSWIn the state of New South Wales we act for our clients on a ‘No Win-No Fee’ basis. So in other words unless we recover compensation for our client, we will not charge for our work. Be sure to ask one of our lawyers if you have any questions regarding our fee policy, as conditions do apply.

Personal Injury Law Enquiry

Latest News and Blog

How long do I have to sue for medical negligence?

Read more about the limitation period in NSW.Read More

E- Conveyancing- mandatory electronic lodgement of dealings from 1 July 2019

The Conveyancing Rules (version 5) will commence on 1 July 2019 …Read More