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Lawyers representing hundreds of victims of institutional abuse have today commended the Federal Government on the announcement of a Commonwealth Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Barrie Woollacott said the Scheme, although short on detail at present, would hopefully ensure all survivors have equal access to justice for the abuse they have suffered.

“The importance of such a scheme cannot be overstated,” Mr Woollacott said.

“Survivors of child sexual abuse have suffered unimaginable injuries that have no doubt had a devastating effect on their lives.

“Sadly, many have faced significant legal hurdles as they have tried to pursue compensation through the court systems.

“Not only will they now have access to the psychological and financial support they deserve, but they won’t have to, as many do, face their abusers across a court room.”

Mr Woollacott said states and territories will have the opportunity to opt-in to the Commonwealth Scheme.

“A national compensation scheme would mean child abuse survivors could avoid expensive, lengthy and distressing legal battles if they didn’t wish to pursue legal action, but could still receive redress,” he said.

“It will also provide them the opportunity for closure without the added trauma of court action.

“To ensure every Australian who is a survivor of institutional abuse is able to access redress, it is crucial that all states and territories sign up to the scheme.

“I commend the Federal Government for taking the lead and encourage institutions and other bodies to support this important initiative.”

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