QLD to drop statute of limitations for child abuse survivors

LIZ CALLIGEROS

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Child abuse survivors will have a longer period of time to come forward and get justice. Source: Grace Llewellyn.

Child sexual abuse survivors will be given more time to lay charges against alleged perpetrators into adulthood, with the Queensland Government set to drop the statute of limitations for civil claims.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced she will introduce new legislation into Parliament on August 16 to improve justice for victims of institutional child sexual abuse.

Currently, a statute of limitations restricts abuse survivors to launching a civil claim within three years after their eighteenth birthday.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse recommended that states and territories remove such limitations.

Ms Palaszczuk said  those legal barriers have effectively barred victims from seeking justice.

“I have met a number of victims of child sexual abuse. There is no time limit on their anguish or damage to their lives and their loved ones,” Ms Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.

Dr Edward Massawir, a law academic, agrees the current laws seem unsuited to claims involving abuse to minors, however recognises that appearing in court can be distressing in these cases.

“The reasons for not bringing forward a claim after the passage of time in such circumstances are manifold and well-known,” he said.

“At the same time, the nature of court litigation itself is extremely stressful and can often repeat, more than remedy, the harm.”

Queensland Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath announced the government will release a press paper on whether the limitations should be lifted for other forms of abuse, including physical and psychological.

“[These reforms] affect many Queenslanders. They are long overdue. People have been waiting and calling for these reforms.”

In fact, lawyers, survivors and their advocates have been pressing towards this reform for years.

Ms Palaszczuk called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to set up a national redress scheme for abuse survivors.

“This also requires national leadership,” the Premier said.

NSW and Victoria have already lifted limitations and the Australian Capital Territory announced its intention to do the same on Tuesday.

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