A $24 million dollar settlement scheme for the former residents of Fairbridge Farm School at Molong has now been approved by the Supreme Court of NSW.
The approval comes after six years of legal action, after a class action was brought against the Fairbridge Foundation, the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government.
The legal action was the first of its kind in New South Wales and the $24 million dollar compensation fund is believed to be the largest for survivors of mass child abuse in Australian legal history.
The Court approval of the terms of the deed of settlement includes:
- Approval of the $24 million dollar compensation payment;
- Approval of the settlement procedure, including the claim assessment process;
Slater and Gordon Class Action Lawyer Roop Sandhu said the approval marks one of the final steps in what has been a long and emotional process.
“The survivors of Fairbridge waited a lifetime for people to listen to them and now their suffering is finally being acknowledged,” Mr Sandhu said.
“It takes unimaginable courage for them to be able to trust authorities like lawyers and the courts – some were in their 70s before they were able to come forward – and now their suffering has been formally acknowledged.”
Group members who have registered will now have their claims assessed to determine their compensation entitlements.
Mr Sandhu said he expected the process to take several months.
“Our clients were subjected to horrific physical and sexual abuse during their time at Fairbridge, so it’s imperative that they all get a fair opportunity to tell their stories,” Mr Sandhu said.
“Each individual will be spoken to privately and separately and will be afforded as much time as necessary to make sure their claims are assessed thoroughly and accurately.
“The class members only get one chance to have their claim assessed, so it’s important it is done correctly and the process isn’t unduly rushed.”
Slater and Gordon acted on a no-win no-fee basis in this action.
The defendants continue to deny legal liability for the institutional child abuse that occurred at the Fairbridge Farm School, based on a statute of limitations defence.