It is an incredibly challenging time for survivors of sexual and institutional abuse but there are avenues available to help. Chamberlain Law Firm director Alison McNamara explains what these are...  

REPORTS of the sexual and institutional abuse of children in Australia have dominated headlines in recent years.

Chamberlains director Alison McNamara.

The "Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse" made shocking findings of abuse of children who suffered ongoing physical and sexual abuse at the hands of various institutions such as schools, churches and orphanages. More recently we have seen allegations emerge in sporting organisations such as Gymnastics Australia and Swimming Australia and more and more survivors of abuse are coming forward. 

It is an incredibly challenging time for survivors of abuse but there are avenues available to help such as compensation for any injuries caused by the abuse, which includes physical injuries or psychological injuries such as anxiety, depression or PTSD. While no amount of money can repair the trauma of abuse, it can assist with day-to-day living costs and ongoing medical or psychological assistance to help victims on the road to long term recovery.

What are the time limits for making a claim?

The previous time limits for making a claim for compensation have been removed, so survivors of abuse can now make a claim regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. 

The removal of the barrier of time constraints is an important step towards achieving justice for survivors who are quite often not ready to address what has happened to them until many years after the abuse has taken place.

What can a claim cover?

Compensation may include damages for the pain and suffering a survivor has endured, treatment costs, including past and future treatment, as well as lost income when the abuse has affected the survivor’s ability to participate in education and work. A survivor of abuse is also able to claim compensation for care and domestic assistance provided, whether paid or unpaid. 

Most of the time compensation involves money, but it can also involve an apology or admission of guilt which may help provide closure to survivors of abuse in a way money just cannot. 

Who is the claim brought against?

A claim is brought against the institution where your abuse took place and is handled by their insurer. It is helpful to note that it may still be possible to make a claim even if the institution no longer exists. 

Being the victim of institutional abuse is a traumatic experience not many people will ever be able to understand. If you are the victim of institutional abuse we strongly recommend that you seek advice from an experienced lawyer about your options for making a claim. 

Chamberlains Law Firm, level 8, 224 Bunda Street, Civic. Call 6188 3600, email or visit

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