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Settlements finalised for Fairbridge Farm historical child abuse class action

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Allocation of a $24 million dollar compensation fund available to victims of historical child abuse at Fairbridge Farm School in Central Western New South Wales has now been finalised.

The class action was settled last year after six years of legal action 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 compensation fund is believed to be the largest for survivors of mass child abuse in Australian legal history.

The settlement scheme was approved by the Supreme Court of New South Wales in August 2015.

Slater and Gordon Class Action Lawyer Roop Sandhu said the claims assessment process has now been completed.

“The survivors of Fairbridge have been waiting a lifetime to be heard and some were telling their stories for the first time during this assessment process,” Mr Sandhu said.

“Each individual was spoken to privately and separately and was afforded as much time as necessary to ensure their claim was assessed thoroughly and accurately.

“Many of the victims have had to find unimaginable courage to be able to trust authorities like lawyers and courts and we hope they can find some form of closure now the legal process has come to an end.”

Mr Sandhu is hopeful the path will now be easier for victims of historical child abuse who come forward in the future.

“We applaud recent moves by the New South Wales Government to eliminate limitation defences in civil claims for child abuse survivors,” Mr Sandhu said.

“It was also hugely meaningful that the New South Wales Premier made a personal, written apology to every Fairbridge survivor who was part of the claim and unreservedly accepted responsibility on behalf of the State for the abuse they suffered as children."

“But there’s still a long way to go towards acknowledging and atoning for decades of abuse.

“Without a national redress scheme, victims of historical child abuse will still need to go through costly and psychologically damaging litigation for their suffering to be acknowledged.

“We are immensely proud and honoured to represent the former residents of Fairbridge in their courageous pursuit of justice, but we cannot help but think that there must be an easier way.”