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The “me too” movement shed further light on how survivors of sexual assault and harassment experience victim-blaming and other types of traumatisation when they try to tell their stories, including when trying to access the justice system.
Distrust and fear of police, the criminal justice system, and institutions can be a huge barrier to those seeking justice. Many are apprehensive of the possibility of their children or family members discovering the abuses they had previously endured.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which ran from 2013 to 2017 heard submissions from thousands of people who shared their stories of sexual and physical abuse by clergy, teachers, carers and other authority figures.
There are many child abuse survivors still to come forward and disclose their experiences.
Since the Royal Commission, legislation has been amended to make it easier for survivors to exercise their common law rights. State Governments have enacted model litigant policies and guiding principles for agencies responding to civil claims for child abuse. These policies and principals acknowledge that an adversarial civil litigation system is not often an effective way of dealing sensitively or compassionately with survivors of abuse. The objectives are to make litigation a less traumatic experience, for claims to be finalised as quickly as possible, to reduce the necessity for survivors to repeat painful experiences to multiple people, and to ensure a consistent and compassionate approach.
Exercising your common law right to bring an action against an institution for historical child abuse rarely results in survivors being required to testify in court. While your case will be prepared as if it is proceeding to a trial, there are countless opportunities to successfully resolve your claim prior to a trial.
At Littles, we hold defendant institutions to account in ensuring that they respond appropriately to survivors with compassion. We do everything we can to ensure that institutions behave ethically and fairly so that they do not take advantage of survivors who may lack the resources to litigate a legitimate claim.