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03 April 2017 at 10:36 BST

Royal Commission sees law firms swamped by historical child sex abuse cases

Australian legal firms are experiencing unprecedented demand from people who have suffered alleged child sexual abuse in institutions such as churches, schools and youth groups after statute of limitations is lifted.

Tatiana Kostareva

The flurry of people coming forward to law firms follows revelations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and legal reforms which allow survivors to make a claim for damages regardless of when the abuse allegedly occurred. For example, Shine Lawyers received 61 inquiries about historical child sexual abuse in 2012, prior to the commencement of the Royal Commission in 2013 - compared with 730 inquiries last year, an increase of more than 1000 per cent. Similarly, law firm Maurice Blackburn has also experienced a surge in people exploring their legal options, with hundreds of new inquiries.

Coming forward in droves

After years of hearings, the child sex abuse royal commission is starting to finalise its work but survivors are coming forward in droves. A number of states, including New South Wales have scrapped the statute of limitations for civil action by child sexual abuse survivors, many of whom take decades to disclose. The commission held its final public hearing last week and will hand down its final report in December.

Pay outs

Figures released by the Royal Commission show the Catholic church paid $280 million in compensation to victims of alleged child sexual abuse between 1980-2015 and Anglican church dioceses have payments of just over $34 million in response to complaints over the same period. The Federal Government has announced a national redress scheme to compensate survivors to run for 10 years from 2018.


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