Queensland’s State Parliament passes new legislation to support victims of abuse in pursuing compensation claims

On 30 October 2019 the State Parliament of Queensland passed the Civil Liability and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 which has made it easier for victims of abuse in that state to successfully pursue claims. The legislation widens the definition of abuse to include serious physical and psychological abuse, thereby allowing more victims in Queensland to access compensation under Australia’s National Redress Scheme.

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Australian National Redress Scheme has received over 5000 Applications

The Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) published an update yesterday (28/10/2019).

Award processing

In that update it advised that as of the 4 October 2019 the NRS had:

  • Received over 5,040 applications
  • Made around 750 decisions
  • Of those 750 decisions the NRS has made 638 payments, totalling over AUS$51.3 million
  • The NRS had also made over 100 offers of redress, and applicants have six months to consider their offer of redress
  • The NRS is currently processing over 3,300 applications, with 618 applications on hold because one or more institution named in the application had not yet joined and about 300 applications requiring additional information from the applicant.

As of 4 October, the average payment under the NRS was AUS$80,019.

From 1 July 2019 to 4 October 2019, 405 applications were finalised, resulting in 399 payments.

This shows that the NRS have improved the rate at which it is making decisions as they have finished more applications since July this year than they did for the first twelve months of its existence.

Institutions update
As of 4 October, there were 61 non-government institutions participating in the NRS, covering over 41,300 individual sites, such as churches, schools and clubs.

In September, a number of new institutions, organisations and religious orders completed the necessary steps to join the Scheme.

The following institutions have completed the steps to join the Scheme:

  • Ballarat and Queen’s Anglican Grammar School
  • The Carmelite Fathers Incorporated (Vic)
  • Legacy Australia Incorporated (this does not include all the Legacy Clubs in Australia, the primary purpose of Legacy Australia Incorporated is the care of dependants of those who served their country; namely, veterans who gave their lives or health on operational service or subsequently, and Australian Defence Force members who die in service or as a result of their service)
  • Parkerville Children and Youth Care Inc
  • The Trustees of the Passionist Fathers

The additions to the Anglican Church of Australia participating group are:

  • All Saints’ College Inc
  • Arden Anglican School
  • Barker Barang
  • Blue Mountains Grammar School Limited
  • Campbelltown Anglican Schools Council
  • The Corporate Trustees of the Diocese of Armidale
  • The Corporate Trustees of the Diocese of Grafton
  • Governors of Hale School
  • Launceston Church Grammar School
  • The Society of the Sacred Advent Schools Pty Ltd as trustee for The Society of the Sacred Advent – St Aidan’s Trust (St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School)
  • The Society of the Sacred Advent Schools Pty Ltd as trustee for The Society of the Sacred Advent – St Margaret’s Trust (St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School)
  • The Synod of the Diocese of The Murray of the Anglican Church of Australia Incorporated
  • Trinity College Gawler Inc

The addition to the Baptist Churches of Victoria participating group is:

  • Warracknabeal Baptist Church.

The addition to the Salesian Society (Vic) participating group is:

  • Boys’ Town Engadine.

The additions to the Uniting Church in Australia participating group are:

  • Aitken College Limited (Vic)
  • Billanook College Limited (Vic)
  • Blackheath Home, Oxley (Qld)
  • Fahan School (Tas)
  • The Geelong College (Vic)
  • Haileybury (Vic)
  • Kingswood College Limited (Vic)
  • Methodist Ladies’ College (Vic)
  • Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (Vic)
  • Pilgrim School Inc (SA)
  • Prince Alfred College (SA)
  • Scotch College (Vic)
  • The Scots School Albury (Vic)
  • UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (SA)
  • Uniting Communities Incorporated (SA)
  • Uniting Country SA Ltd.


moohan_sharonv2 Written by Sharon Moohan, partner at BLM

Cardinal Pell appeals convictions

On 5 June 2019 at the Victoria State Court of Appeal, Cardinal Pell’s legal team launched an application for leave to appeal his conviction on one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16 in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. The Court is also hearing the appeal against the conviction at the same time.

Cardinal Pell was sentenced to six years in prison, which he is currently serving in a Melbourne prison and it is reported that he is being held in special protective custody because due to the nature of his convictions he is regarded as being at higher risk of harm from other prisoners.

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Australia – Institutions that have not yet joined the Scheme

In establishing the National Redress Scheme the Australian Government was very clear that it expected every institution in which sexual abuse of children occurred to be accountable for that abuse and to join the Scheme and provide redress.

In fact the Australian Department of Social Services has a dedicated team who contacts Institutions that may have responsibility for abuse, strongly encourages them to join the Scheme, and provides information about how to do so.

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Scottish update

This week, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) has announced that on 21 and 23 January 2019 it will hear evidence, via video link from Australia, of witnesses whose evidence is relevant to the child migrant case study. Prior to migration, the witnesses were children in care in residential care establishments run by religious organisations.

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‘Up-skirting’ to be made a criminal offence

In September 2017 we reported on the issue of ‘up-skirting’ – the practice of taking a picture up the skirt or dress of a woman or girl in public, sometimes as part of a programme of harassment by the person taking the picture,  often occurring without the victim ever being aware. The photos are then often circulated to others invading the privacy of, distressing and humiliating whomever is in the picture.  At the time it was noted that this was an example of where the law had not caught up with the misuse of technology.  However, today the government has indicated that it will support a private members bill – the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill 2018 – to make the practice a criminal offence in England and Wales.  The Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 15 June 2018 and it is understood to have cross party support.   Continue reading

Australia to ban convicted paedophiles from travelling abroad

Australia punishes people who abuse children overseas with up to 25 years imprisonment.  Despite this, some Australian paedophiles are known to take inexpensive holidays to South East Asian and Pacific island countries to abuse children. In response, Australia is going to introduce new laws to tackle child sex tourism in what has been described as a “world first”.  The Government has said the new rules, which includes the cancellation of passports, will ensure child sex offenders cannot travel “to vulnerable countries where they are out of sight and reach of Australian law”.

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