No more time limits on damages claims for child sex abuse

CHILD sex abuse victims will have no time limit on making damages claims if new legislation to remove restrictions passes through Queensland Parliament.

The Queensland Government will this month introduce legislation to remove the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse in institutions, such as schools.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had met with victims of child sexual abuse, some of whom told their "horrific stories" to the Royal Commission.

"There is no time limit on their anguish or damage to their lives and their loved ones," she said.

"My government will ensure there is no time limit on justice.

"The distress of the abuse often means victims do not seek immediate help and cannot come forward until their legal claims are time-barred."

Currently under Queensland law, a child victim has three years from the time they turn 18 to bring a civil action before the court.

The move follows on from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The commission found survivors of institutional abuse often could not discuss, or were even aware of, what had happened to them until they were well into their adult years.

Bravehearts criminologist Carol Ronken said research showed it could take 20 years a survivor to overcome the barriers stopping them confronting their abuse.

"We know that for many victims of child sexual assault it can take many years until they're actually able to disclose or speak out about what has happened to them," she said.

"With the attention that the Royal Commission is getting, our state governments, our federal governments, all have a responsibility to do whatever they can to make sure that the response to survivors is appropriate and adequate."

The government will also release an issues paper seeking stakeholder and community interest in broader civil litigation reform based on the commission's recommendations.

These include whether other forms of abuse, such as emotional and physical, should be included, whether the scope of damages was sufficient, and whether the reverse onus should apply to all institutions, unless "the institution can prove it took reasonable steps to prevent the abuse".

Ms Ronken said Bravehearts had long advocated for the statute of limitations to be rescinded and looked forward to providing feedback on further legislative reform.

Australian Lawyers Alliance Queensland president Michelle James has said the new legislation would give survivors renewed hope they could access justice.

She said it was pleased the Queensland Government had not waited for the Commonwealth to act before working to remove the barriers. - ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  child sex abuse editors picks queensland

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