26 September 2023

New laws to give courts more powers

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ACT Courts are to be empowered under new laws to set aside unjust and unreasonable settlements for survivors of historical child abuse.

Announcing the legislation, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said it was vital that survivors of child abuse had access to justice.

“Following the Royal Commission, meaningful changes were made to remove technical and procedural barriers to child abuse survivors suing the responsible institutions,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“When those institutions were difficult to sue, many survivors making settlements for personal injury were forced to accept deeply unfair and inadequate amounts,” he said.

“Under these reforms, a survivor of institutional child abuse will be able to apply to the courts to have an unjust and unreasonable historical damages settlement for personal injury set aside.”

Mr Rattenbury said this would allow survivors to seek a more equitable settlement against the responsible institution.

The Attorney-General said the amendments would also expand the definition of ‘child abuse’ from only ‘sexual abuse’ to include sexual or physical abuse.

“Which will remove the current limitation period for claims by survivors in respect of child physical abuse,” he said.

“All survivors of child abuse in the ACT will be able to seek compensation regardless of whether the historical abuse they experienced was sexual or physical.”

Mr Rattenbury said the amendments aligned the rights of child abuse survivors in the ACT with the rights afforded to survivors in other Australian jurisdictions.

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