How Australian Law Defines Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is a serious crime, and it causes untold harm to the victims and their families. The effects of sexual abuse can last from childhood through adulthood. Without professional guidance and counselling, the effects can last a lifetime. 

How Does Australian Law Define Child Sexual Abuse? 

Under Australia's Family Law Act, child abuse is classed as any sexual or physical assault against children. Under this law, child sexual abuse is classed as sexual assault and also using a child as a sexual object, whether indirectly or directly. And when there is unequal power between the child and the offender. This can result in childhood trauma in adults that requires professional intervention to overcome. 

What Is Considered Child Sexual Abuse? 

Child sexual abuse does not necessarily include the act of sex. It can be emotional, verbal, or physical sexual behaviour as well. Child sexual abuse is when someone uses their authority to draw a child into sexual activity. The offender may be an adult, but it could also be an adolescent or child. Generally, these abuses are at the hands of someone the child knows, and it starts young. Often, it is not an isolated incident, and the offender will groom a child over a long period. Additionally, offenders may use bribes, tricks, or outright threats to ensure the victim's silence. 

Programs Available to Help

The National Redress Scheme exists as a means of victims pursuing compensation and some form of justice. Nothing can undo the trauma they experienced at the hands of a trusted person, but a settlement can help you pay for treatment, make up for lost earnings, and help begin the healing. 

Other programs available to help include,

Through the Respond Early Assisting Children Program funds a variety of projects to help children.

 

When you see initiatives such as Child Protection Week, it's NAPCAN behind it. They organise events, action kits, and workshops throughout the year focused on protecting young people in the area.

 

This government initiative offers family and parenting programs, as well as support initiatives in early childhood.

 

This program is available for families who are going through a traumatic time or a period of disruption. The aim is to provide emotional support to minimise the cost of the disruption to the child(ren) and family unit.

 

The Royal Commission Sexual Abuse instituted the National Redress Scheme to address childhood sexual abuse claims at the hand of an institution. It is an opportunity for victims to seek compensation, receive an apology, and have their trauma acknowledged. 

Reporting A Child Sexual Abuse Case 

When he was a young boy, Martin was arrested for shoplifting a pair of jeans. As a result, he was sent to live in a home for boys where he was sexually abused by the people in charge. It took him 50 years to speak up about what happened to him as a child. As a result of the NRS, Martin was able to secure an apology and a payment to help him move forward. Martin is just one of the thousands of people who have claimed NRS payments. 

Up until recently, childhood sexual abuse cases were classed as personal injury claims with just a three-year time limit from the date of injury. Yet, the average victim takes 20 years to come forward and disclose the abuse they experienced. As a result, this time limit was abolished, as a result of the Royal Commission. All states have removed the time limits regarding child sexual abuse cases. Some have extended this to other types of childhood abuse. 

In New South Wales, 2016 legislation abolished time limits on claims for serious physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and other abuse claims related to either of the two. This was in reaction to the Royal Commission. 

If you experienced child sexual abuse and wish to report it now, then there are several avenues you can take. You can speak directly to the police, file a report using their online form, or speak to a lawyer about how best to proceed. Despite the success of the NRS scheme, people are still being refused due to ineligibility. Appeals can be difficult, which is why it's so important to ensure your paperwork is completed properly in the first place. The best way to do so is to seek legal help. You can file an application with the NRS until the 30th of June, 2027. 

When To Seek Legal Help 

To successfully lodge sexual abuse claims and claim for National Redress Scheme Payments, you need a strong lawyer for child abuse cases. Child abuse laws Australia are complex, and while you may believe you know what's necessary to file your paperwork, it's always wise to consult a lawyer for advice before you proceed. In addition to the National Redress Scheme, there is another way to proceed. You may find that filing a damages claim against your offender is a better option for you personally. This is something we're happy to discuss with you at AJB Stevens. Get in touch with us to open the conversation.

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