Posted on 16 Feb. 2016
Former residents of Fairbridge Farm in Central West NSW have welcomed moves by the state government to improve access to justice for historical victims of child sexual abuse.
Legislation was today introduced to abolish limitation periods in civil claims, meaning survivors of child abuse will be able to claim for damages regardless of the date of the alleged abuse.
The landmark $24 million Fairbridge class action was the largest settlement for survivors of mass child abuse in Australian legal history and highlighted the need for such reforms.
Slater and Gordon Class Action Lawyer Roop Sandhu said the defendants continued to deny legal liability, based on the statute of limitations defence, even after the case was resolved.
“During the six years we spent in court, not a single day was spent addressing the abuse that occurred,” Mr Sandhu said.
“Eight former residents started the action with us, but died before its resolution. For them justice delayed was justice denied."
“The limitation period reforms announced by the state government today bring NSW legislation in line with Victoria and are long overdue for the hundreds of victims of child sexual abuse we represented.”
Mr Sandhu also echoed the NSW Attorney-General’s call for a single, national redress scheme,
“The legislative amendments introduced today will eliminate limitation defences, which is a step in the right direction, but there is more that could be done,” Mr Sandhu said.
“A national redress scheme would be an effective alternative to costly and psychologically damaging litigation.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to represent these survivors of child abuse, but I cannot help but think that there must be another way.”