Abuse law

Have you suffered institutional or historical abuse?

We can help.

If you are an adult survivor of childhood sexual, physical or psychological abuse, we’ll ensure you receive the justice you deserve.

Following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, survivors now have options they never had before. We 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.

Institutions may include:

  • 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
  • Organisations such as Scouts, cadets and local councils

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 re-negotiated.

Speaking out against institutional abuse takes great courage and it may seem an impossible task. We will help navigate and walk through this journey with you. Our legal team is approachable, sensitive and able to assure you of their absolute confidentiality.

We are specialist institutional abuse lawyers and can help you get compensation for the wrong done to you. 

We know that every survivor and their journey to finding justice is different. We will navigate this journey with you. This may include obtaining financial compensation from the responsible institution.

The amount of compensation you may be entitled to receive will depend on:

  • The extent of your injuries and/or impairments
  • Your age
  • Your employment history
  • The amount of lost wages, both current and in the future
  • The extent of your past and ongoing medical needs
  • Whether you will require care, either now or in the future

We conduct nearly all claims on a No Win No Fee basis. 


Laws in Australia relating to time limits for bringing claims have changed. There is no longer a limitation period preventing survivors from commencing common law claims for compensation.

The National Redress Scheme started on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years. Many survivors are not aware accepting an offer of redress under the National Redress Scheme will prevent them from progressing a common law claim for compensation. There are also significant restrictions and caveats around access to the Scheme.

We consider that the National Redress Scheme is a good option for survivors who would otherwise not have good prospects of seeking common law compensation. Before accepting an offer of redress, we strongly urge abuse survivors to seek legal advice first about whether or not a common law claim would be a better option for them. 

Abuse law is complex, and every individual experience is different. If you would like to explore your legal options, we recommend contacting us so you can speak with one of our abuse lawyers.

We offer a FREE initial consultation. There will be no charge for that initial consultation if you decide not to proceed with a claim.

You also can:

Book a Free Initial Consultation

Call us on 1800 548 853

Request a call back

Remember, we work flexibly. We can come to your place, meet with you at our offices, or talk over the phone or Zoom

If you are a survivor of historical or institutional abuse, we understand that seeking accountability from abusers and the responsible institutions for pain, suffering and psychological impact caused can be another traumatic and difficult experience. We also know that the kind of accountability that survivors seek varies, and includes seeking support services, exploring recourse available under government schemes, and pursuing financial compensation. We have significant experience in this area, and will handle your claim with the utmost sensitivity. Let us help you on this journey. 

Our 5 Step Process for Abuse Claims

We are well attuned to the unique needs of abuse survivors. Through our simple 5 step process, we’ll ensure you are treated with understanding, dignity and respect throughout the entire legal process.

Recovery from traumatic events can take a long time. It’s helpful if you have people in your life who understand and will give you the space to heal. At Littles, we encourage you to talk to and rely on the support of family, friends and professionals such as a GP, counsellor or psychiatrist. In addition, we can also refer you to specialist support services including:

  • Emotional support while providing details of the abuse suffered
  • Assistance during meetings with your lawyers
  • Medical and psychological support
  • Drug and alcohol support services and groups
  • Support in communications with government departments

The first step you need to take is to get in touch with one of our friendly team members. Our experts will assess your case and advise you whether you should proceed – within 24 hours. We can also help you access support services. 

If we establish that you should proceed with your claim, we will assign you to one of our specialist lawyers for a FREE no obligation chat. They will go through the details of your case and discuss how your claim will proceed.  Every case is different and we tailor our services to the particular needs of each client. We will give you an estimate of the length of your claim at this meeting. This part of the process is obligation free – you can walk away at any time. 

Once you’re satisfied with how your case will proceed, we will ask you to sign an agreement authorising us to act as your legal representative and outline our fee structure. We operate most claims on a No Win No Fee basis, which means that you only pay us when your claim is successful. We will then gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case, including medical evidence, witness statements and any supporting documentation.

We’ll commence a claim against the person or company responsible for your injury. In most instances, it’s the insurance company who will be paying your compensation, not the person or company themselves.

We’ll present a strong case for you and be there every step of the way to advocate and fight to achieve the result you deserve. Most claims are settled through negotiation and do not proceed to court, saving you time and money. 


Most frequent questions and answers
If you are a survivor of historical or institutional abuse, you may be thinking about seeking redress, including acknowledgement and financial compensation for the pain, suffering, and psychological impact of your abuse.  
If you want to pursue a claim, it is essential that you speak with a lawyer who is an expert in institutional and historical abuse claims. Your legal options and the process in this area can be challenging to navigate. 
It is important you feel comfortable sharing your story, and we understand this may be the first time you have broken your silence.
Not only can we help make your legal journey easier, but we can connect you with helpful support services. 
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. 

Although you may have already done so, making a complaint to police regarding historical abuse is not a prerequisite to you being able to pursue a common law claim for compensation.


While it is not a requirement, we can assist you to report the abuse to the police, your doctor, or an appropriate health worker during your claim. Doing so may also further support you and your claim.

We understand that talking about your abuse and the pain and suffering it caused you can be difficult, and that you want a clear path toward resolving your claim. 
When you meet your  Littles expert, the first thing that they will do is listen to your story, the background of your case and the impact it has had on your life.

We know that childhood trauma can have profound consequences throughout a person’s life and has been linked to risky health behaviours, chronic and long-term health conditions, scattered employment history, and difficulties maintaining healthy relationships. Although childhood trauma may contribute to many mental and emotional problems which do not arise until later in life, every individual’s experience is different.  

We know your experiences may be challenging for you to discuss. However, these matters are relevant to your compensation case, and it is important that we understand the full range of impact the abuse has had on your life.
We believe survivors must feel safe to disclose, knowing they will be believed, respected, and empowered to make decisions. We’ll make sure you have the emotional support you need to provide this important information. 
Understanding your pathway in life helps your lawyer to provide you with the best possible advice, discuss your legal rights and their recommendation on how to proceed. This will include clear timeframes.
Only then will we ask you to sign an agreement for Littles to have the privilege of representing you and progressing your claim. 

Most claims are settled before proceeding to court. It’s usually in the best interests of the parties to settle prior to court as doing so involves significant additional time, cost and uncertainty. But don’t worry, if your claim does proceed to court, we’ll continue to fight to ensure that your claim is finalised smoothly. 

The National Redress Scheme (the Scheme) was established to recognise that sexual abuse of children occurred in Australian institutions. It is intended to provide a mechanism for victims of abuse to hold institutions accountable for harm caused, and allows survivors to seek  support and receive redress and recognition of the injustice they suffered if the relevant institution is signed up to the scheme. Although every state and territory in Australia opted into the Scheme, there remains a number of non-governmental organisations who are yet to join. 
The Scheme can provide:
  • A redress payment (of up to $150,000)
  • Access to counselling and psychological services
  • A direct personal response from each participating institution responsible for the abuse.
In order to access the Scheme:
  • the abuse in question must be sexual in nature.  It does not cover physical or psychological abuse
  • the person who was abused must have been under 18 years old at the time of the abuse
  • the person who was abused must have been in the care of an institution participating in the Scheme at the time of the abuse
  • the person who was abused must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and 
  • the abuse must have occurred before 1 July 2018. 

Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, reflecting the severity and impact of the abuse experienced. However, it is possible, even likely, that most applicants would receive much less than the maximum of $150,000. The average payment is likely to be $76,000, and the minimum payment is nil. In some cases, common law compensation would have been higher than the amount of a redress payment.


Remember, if you have sought and been paid a redress payment under the Scheme, you cannot pursue a common law compensation claim for the same abuse. 

The Scheme is an alternative to getting compensation through the courts or through a collaborative process outside of court. A person who accepts an offer of redress must release the institution from future civil liability for the abuse and related non-sexual abuse.


The Scheme has significant limitations, and many abuse survivors would be better served by bringing a common law claim for damages, and only accessing the Scheme as a last resort.


This is a complex area of law that is continuing to evolve. Speak to one of our experts to ensure that you understand your rights.