Queensland passes law to close abuse loopholes

The Sydney Morning Herald Politics 3 weeks ago

Children abused while in the care of Queensland institutions can now more easily pursue them for damages.

Under legislation passed by State Parliament on Wednesday, survivors will be able to hold both incorporated and unincorporated institutions accountable and they must now prove they took all steps to keep children in their care safe from abuse.

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath says the laws will help victims of institutional abuse access compensation..

Only survivors of child sexual abuse were able to pursue historical civil claims in Queensland, with the new rules expanding this to include serious physical abuse and psychological abuse.

The state government has removed limitation periods for people to take action against an institution and says this gives survivors a chance to pursue justice.

It says victims of psychological and serious physical abuse could not access compensation under the national redress scheme but the law now gives them an option to seek compensation through a civil claim.

The threshold will be determined by the courts

Limitations that meant survivors had to pursue legal action within a window of time will be removed, meaning survivors of historical abuse now have the option.

Attorney General Yvette D'Ath expects a "significant" number of people to come forward but acknowledges not everyone will want to make a civil claim.

She has said some institutions kept their assets in trusts, which made it hard to access compensation even in cases that were proven.

Ms D'Ath says the legislation changes that.

Bob Atkinson, who served as a commissioner in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said the abuse inflicted on some children was sadistic and defied belief.


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