The McGowan government has introduced into parliament a Bill that will enable child sexual abuse victims to sue their attackers years after the crime has been committed.
The bill enables child sexual abuse victims to sue for historical abuse by removing limitation periods for all child sexual abuse actions.
“The removal of limitation periods for civil actions by victims of child sexual abuse is a McGowan Labor Government election commitment,” Attorney General John Quigley said.
“In a first for Australia, the Bill provides a legal basis for suing institutions in their name of their current office holders for historical child sexual abuse.”
Along with allowing victims to pursue legal action, it will include provisions overriding sections of the Federal corporations law to access assets of related trusts and corporations to fulfil compensation amounts.
It will also make sure that victims are treated fairly by capping legal fees that are charged to victims that are suing.
Current limitation periods prevent most victims from suing for damages when they finally reveal their abuse.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found it took an average of 22 years for a victim to disclose child sexual abuse.
Current laws have prevented victims from being able to sue organisations for abuse.
“Many of the churches and other institutions involved are, or were at the time, not incorporated,” Mr Quigley said.
“Our Bill includes provisions to overcome the difficulties that a victim may face in identifying a proper defendant.”
Premier Mark McGowan said the laws would help child abuse victims receive justice.
“We are committed to ensuring survivors of child sex abuse are treated with dignity and respect,” he said.
“The fact that these crimes may have happened many years ago should not be a barrier to being able to seek justice and compensation in our civil courts.”
“The State Government has worked tirelessly in March to ensure we get it right.”