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Slater and Gordon lawyers have welcomed a statement at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that the Christian Brothers will review the compensation given to former residents in Western Australia.
Slater and Gordon lawyer Hayden Stephens, who worked on the case two decades ago, outlined to the commission last week the refusals by the Christian Brothers and Church authorities to admit liability and the vigorous defence of a civil legal case brought on by former residents.
“The Royal Commission has presented an opportunity for the Church to address the hurt they have caused by providing financial support for their victims,” he said.
“I believe this change in the Church’s approach would certainly be welcomed by the men that we represented.
“I am glad to hear that there has been a change in heart from the Christian Brothers and they are open to revisiting settlements which are considered by the victims as unjust.
“As young boys in the care of the Christian Brothers in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, these men endured horrific abuse leaving them with severe emotional trauma and in some cases lasting physical injuries.
“For many of these men, the trauma of what they endured was not realised until their adulthood and some of the psychological and physiological injuries continue to this day.
“It is now time that they be given another opportunity to receive fair compensation and I hope that the Christian Brothers move mountains to make this happen.”
Slater and Gordon took up the case of the former residents after being approached by victim support group VOICES, in the 1990s. The firm went on to represent about 240 men against the Catholic Church and Christian Brothers.
The Royal Commission has exposed the significant legal hurdles faced by victims of abuse who attempt to pursue their civil rights through the courts.
The firm undertook significant work to advance and protect the legal interests of the men, some 20 years ago. Slater and Gordon pursued their legal rights over three years in three jurisdictions – Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The case also went to the High Court twice and the Court of Appeal in NSW.