Abuse victims to have their day in court after many years of fighting for justice
Posted on 24 Feb. 2017
Mike Alexander, a survivor of more than a decade of institutional child sexual abuse, is set to become one of the first Queenslanders to have his day in court following historic legislative change removing civil statutory time limitations.
Since the Queensland Parliament took the first administrative steps last year, the legislation is likely to be proclaimed later this month, enabling victims previously locked out of the legal system to have their voices heard.
Mr Alexander has been lobbying successive governments for these changes since the 1990s following over a decade of abuse within the religious children's institution he was raised in.
He said that for far too long, doors were slammed in the face of victims of institutional child sexual abuse.
“After contacting the institution, I was given no spiritual assistance and was offered a pittance in compensation, for which I would have to sign a confidentiality agreement forbidding me from speaking publicly about the sexual abuse,” he said.
“Not only was it a token sum for the years of sexual abuse I endured, I would also have had to give up fighting for the justice we deserved.
“I would not let those who had already stripped me of my childhood also take my voice.”
Mr Alexander refused the 'offer'.
Slater and Gordon Practice Group Leader Ryan Christianson said that under the previous legislation, child victims of institutional abuse had just three years to commence civil action from the day they turned 18.
“Most survivors take years to come to terms with the abuse they endured as a child and when they finally have the courage to seek justice, they are turned away because the window has closed,” Mr Christianson said.
“The limitation period reforms announced by the State Government last year has brought Queensland into line with New South Wales and Victoria.
“Finally, survivors have the chance to see justice done and seek some closure.”
Mr Alexander said it was difficult to find words to express what the change in legislation meant to him, his family and the many other victims who felt they would never see the perpetrators brought to account.
“For the first time in 20 years, I feel as if my voice has been restored along with the thousands of other Queenslanders who have been fighting this battle for most of their adult life.”
The Queensland Government announced the removal of time limits on civil litigation claims for institutional child abuse survivors as a result of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.
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