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Know your rights: physical abuse law changes


Written by:
Leanne McDonald
National Practice Leader | Abuse, Dust Diseases and Federal Compensation

Last year the Queensland Government passed to make changes to the Civil Liability and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019, with significant changes which extends the definition of abuse to include serious physical and psychological abuse, as well as sexual abuse. The legislative changes are now in full effect, as at 2 March 2020.

Physical abuse law Queensland

This change brings Queensland in line with New South Wales and Victoria, but when will the rest of Australia come into line for all survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse? Leanne McDonald, National Practice Leader for Abuse Law, along with her team of Institutional Abuse Lawyers, work tirelessly to right wrongs for abuse survivors for over 40 years. In the following blog Leanne outlines how these changes have impacted clients to seek the justice they deserve.

You can read the full updated Act on the Queensland Government, Queensland Legislation website.

What does the physical abuse law changes mean for survivors?

It means that you are afforded justice for your past institutional abuse, and this now extends to serious physical abuse in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales. The Limitation of Actions Act has been amended, abolishing limitation periods relating to civil claims for serious physical abuse, with retrospective effects.

This removes the three-year limitation period that would have ordinarily applied to civil compensation claims for the wider meaning of child abuse. We understand that no amount of financial compensation can take away the pain caused by your abuse but it can help you on your path to recovery and, acceptance that what happened was not your fault.

In many cases of institutional abuse, the injuries can be severe and long-lasting, often staying with survivors throughout their lifetime. We understand that disclosing your abuse can be very emotionally difficult, that’s why we focus on providing a caring and sympathetic approach to assisting institutional violence claims.

Institutional child sexual or physical abuse can occur in:

  • Faith-based and religious settings, including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and their associated activities
  • Early childhood education and care settings
  • Public and private schools
  • Health-care and medical settings and situations, including during routine check-ups, emergency visits, hospitalisations, and long-term care
  • Out-of-home care settings, including residential, foster and kinship care services
  • Sports settings
  • Commonwealth and State Government departments such as child protection services, justice, health and social services.

The instances of child abuse can be historical or have happened more recently or currently happening to you or a child you know.

What does the rest of Australia need to do?

Our remaining States and Territories need to step up to the plate and implement the physical abuse law changes that Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales have now done. It beggers belief that if you are physically abused in one state as a child that you can claim compensation, while in a neighbouring state you cannot. The healing process needs to commence for all survivors of physical childhood abuse.

Contact Shine Lawyers, we can help bring you justice

Our team of expert institutional abuse lawyers sadly understand the prevalence and the extent of abuse that went on inside some of the nation’s juvenile detention centres, churches and orphanages, we can estimate that thousands of people have endured physical and psychological abuse. These people who have also suffered physical abuse are now about to seek compensation just like sexual abuse victims due to the changes in legislation in Queensland, coming into line with Victoria and New South Wales. Contact our team today, we will listen to you, we will believe you.

Written by Leanne McDonald. Last modified: March 10, 2020.

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