Better late than never Recent sex abuse allegations against Cricket Australia show how late entrants to the National Redress Scheme limit scheme’s ability to help survivors

For many Australians, early January is all about lazy summer days watching the Australian cricket team slogging it out with our old English cricketing foes. Sadly, the media’s cricket coverage has taken a sadder and more disturbing form this year, with allegations reported by the ABC that a member of the Australian under-19 cricket team was sexually abused during overseas tours in the 1980s. The pain and suffering caused by this abuse has been compounded by the inability of victims to obtain redress through the National Redress Scheme, with Australian cricket’s peak body – Cricket Australia – only now taking steps to join scheme years after it was established. This situation follows on from the hurt and frustration felt by victims of Ian King, who abused a number of young men while he was a coach for under-17s and under-19s at Cricket ACT. Cricket ACT has not signed up to the scheme. This blog explores these latest developments, and how they highlight the need for institutions – particularly those with leading roles in Australian society – to continue to take meaningful steps to support survivors to not only make disclosures about historical allegations, but to obtain redress.

What happened?

Jamie Mitchell alleges that he was sexually abused by a person in a position of authority during the Australian under-19 cricket team’s tour of Sri Lanka and India in 1985, causing Mr Mitchell significant trauma and distress over the ensuing years. The ABC report documents that Mr Mitchell has been further frustrated and saddened by efforts to disclose this abuse and seek answers from Cricket Australia, describing its attitude as “cold” and saying that he was “fobbed off”. Cricket Australia has rejected claims that it has mismanaged Mr Mitchell’s sex abuse allegations. What is clear is Cricket Australia’s “failure to sign up to the National Redress Scheme” following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse”. As of August 2021, Cricket Australia was removed from a list of organisations “intending” to join the scheme. Cricket Australia has now said that it is finally in the process of joining the scheme. However, this is cold comfort for survivors of sex abuse that occurred under the watch of state and territory-based cricket organisations like Cricket ACT, where Ian King worked. It was deemed “incapable” of meeting the scheme’s financial obligations “despite posting a $670,000 profit in 2020-2021 on the back of $2.2 million in funding from Cricket Australia”.

The community has a right to question whether this is good enough in 2022. It’s a depressing reminder of the need for institutions to have appropriate processes and procedures in place to deal sensitively and constructively with disclosures and claims for redress.

Child sex abuse is a scourge that has affected a range of institutions

When you hear of Cricket Australia – or Swimming Australia – you probably think of the Ashes, of the Olympics, of Australian athletes beaming proudly as they record a historic win, of some of the most famous names in Australian sport. However, these allegations reflect that historical or institutional abuse is not limited to one institution or organisation. It is well-documented that child sex abuse has occurred in

· religious and faith-based organisations

· youth services and facilities

· Commonwealth and state government services, including child protection and children in foster care, detention and remand centres, and girls’ and boys’ homes

· schools, including public, private, religious run schools and early childhood education and care

· sporting and recreational clubs and associations, and

· organisations such as scouts, cadets and local councils.

Know your rights

Do you need advice about an institutional child sex abuse matter? Let Littles help. We provide expert advice in a sensitive and confidential environment. Get in touch on 1800 548 853.

Following the Royal Commission, survivors now have options they never had before. Littles are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm.

Options for survivors include common law claims for compensation against the institution, a redress application under the National Redress Scheme and various other redress schemes for specific institutions. In some cases, even previous settlements of claims can be set aside and renegotiated.

Want to know more?

Your wellbeing

Your wellbeing is our priority. It is vital you seek medical or psychological assistance during your journey towards seeking justice as the legal process may be emotionally challenging. We can also connect you with helpful support services. If these media reports have raised issues for you, you can contact:

1800 Respect national helpline: 1800 737 732
Lifeline (24 hour crisis line): 131 114
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Don’t delay – seek advice now

Speaking out against institutional abuse takes great courage and may seem an impossible task. Get in touch with Littles for a free claims assessment. We know that every survivor and their journey to finding justice is different. Littles will navigate this journey with you. This may include obtaining financial compensation from the responsible institution for the wrong done to you.

Free advice and no upfront fees

Not only do we offer a FREE claims assessment – we handle most abuse law claims on a no win, no fee basis. Our Head of Abuse Claims, Kate Ross, is an expert in institutional child sex abuse claims. If you think you might have a claim, get in touch with Kate and her team of specialists for high quality legal advice. They are approachable, sensitive and can provide you with absolute confidentiality.

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