Educational Institution Child Abuse - What You Need to Know

Sadly, a significant number of adult survivors of child sexual abuse were abused in educational institutions. In this blog post we look at:

  •         How educational institutional abuse is dealt with under the National Redress Scheme;
  •         How adult survivors might be entitled to financial payments or compensation;
  •         What it means where the educational institution no longer exists, or the abuser has passed                 away.

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Child Abuse In Educational Institutions

At the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (‘Royal Commission’), one in three survivors heard at the Royal Commission (2,186 survivors), reported that they were sexually abused in a school setting as a child. While 70 percent of Australian schools are government (public) schools, three-quarters (75.9 per cent) of survivors said that they were abused in non-government schools. Of those non-government schools, 73.8 percent of survivors attending those schools were at Catholic school. While abuse occurred in various different settings, many were abused in a boarding school. 

How Can Adult Survivors Access Justice?

If an adult survivor of child sexual abuse wishes to make a criminal complaint to the Police, they are encouraged to do so. This could be a complaint about a particular staff member or the institution itself. 

In addition, there are various options for getting financial redress or compensation. The key mechanism is the National Redress Scheme (‘NRS’). This scheme, initiated by the Commonwealth Government in response to the Royal Commission, means that adult survivors of child sexual abuse in an institution, by applying to the scheme, may be entitled to:

  •         A redress payment of between $10,000 and $150,000;
  •         A direct response from the institution;
  •         Funded counselling and psychological services.

Note, there are limits to recovery under this scheme for adult survivors of sexual abuse in an educational institution:

  •         It only applies to institutions that have agreed to join the NRS. Having said that, many major institutions have joined the NRS, such as the Catholic Church, Anglican Church and the Commonwealth and State Governments, so many schools and educational institutions are covered.
  •         There are exclusion criteria for certain individuals. This includes those who have been in prison for five or more years, and those who already have settled claims with the institution;
  •         Applications can only be made up until 30 June 2027. 

Note also that claiming under this scheme will mean you are barred from suing that educational institution for the abuse you suffered. For this reason, it is recommended that you get in touch with an abuse law firm before applying to the NRS, in order to consider your options. In some cases, by taking a civil action in the courts you may be entitled to a higher amount of compensation that you could receive under the NRS. 

Counselling and Psychological Services

In addition to separate payment for counselling services and psychological support that you may be entitled to under the NRS, if you are based in New South Wales, NSW Victims Services can arrange access to free counselling services for you. 

If the Institution No Longer Exists Or The Abuser Has Already Passed Away?

Even if the abuser has passed away, you are still eligible to receive a redress payment from the NRS or take civil action against the educational institution in the courts. 

Conclusion

Adult survivors of sexual abuse in their childhood have access to various avenues for justice in Australia. In addition to laying a criminal complaint with the Police, survivors have the option of claiming redress under the National Redress or pursuing a civil claim in the law courts. As there are significant legal consequences to taking either of these options, it is recommended that adult survivors get in touch with specialist child abuse lawyers to discuss the option that may be best for you.

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