Following on from a paper by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about how best to provide effective justice through redress and civil litigation, the Queensland Government has announced it will remove the statutory limitation period for child sexual abuse claims; released whole-of-Queensland Government guidelines for responding to civil litigation in relation to child sexual abuse; and released an issues paper seeking feedback about a range of civil litigation reforms. The issues paper canvasses the circumstances under which, if at all, the statutory limitation period should be removed for other forms of abuse such as physical or psychological abuse, and similarly whether consideration should be given to abuse that occurred in other settings such as the family home and foster care. Comments are sought about the sufficiency of imposing a non-delegable duty on institutions to prevent harm caused by child sexual abuse; the organisations in or out of scope, for example, including foster and kinship care or sporting groups; and the inclusion of other forms of abuse such as serious physical or psychological abuse. In respect to the Royal Commission’s recommendation that the burden of proof falls on the institution to take reasonable steps to prevent the abuse (i.e. a reverse onus of proof), feedback is sought about whether this should apply to all institutions (as the Royal Commission recommended), which categories of relationships should be included or excluded (eg. employees, office holders, volunteers), and whether liability for other forms of abuse should be in scope. Feedback is also sought about recommendations about identifying a ‘proper defendant’.
The purpose of the whole-of-Queensland Government guidelines for responding to civil litigation is to ensure the State of Queensland and all agencies respond compassionately and consistently to claimants who have been sexually abused as children and to make civil litigation less traumatic for victims.
Comments and submissions are due to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General by Tuesday, 25th October 2016. Member agencies and Supporters interested in contributing to PeakCare’s submission should email Tracey Smith by 30th September 2016.