Understanding Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

In order to better understand Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and provide support for its survivors, we must discuss the facts about it openly and honestly. The below resource provides helpful information including how to access support services.

Aspects we’ll be covering include:

  • Definition Of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
  • Impacts On Survivors
  • National Redress Scheme
  • NRS Institutions
  • Survivor Support
  • Understanding Legal Options

Remember that you’re not alone during this difficult situation. Help is always available if you need it.

What Is Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is the exploitation of a child or young person under the age of 18 by engaging in any kind of sexual touching or activity. Institutional child sexual abuse is when the abuse occurs while they are under the care of an institution.

Examples of an institution include:

  • School
  • Church
  • Foster care
  • Camp
  • Sporting club

No matter where it has happened, child sexual abuse claims of any kind is a blatant violation of a child’s rights and trust, and it is a criminal act under the child abuse laws Australia.

Impacts Of Childhood Trauma In Adults

As with all sexual abuse of a child, survivors of institutional child sexual abuse are often left with severely traumatic and profoundly complex issues and memories. Institutional child sexual abuse often causes a number of psychological, physical, social, and emotional injuries.

The wide-ranging consequences of this type of trauma are deeply debilitating during their childhood, and they often stay with them throughout the rest of their adult life. This can impact a survivor’s faith, education, and career, as well as their intimate relationships, and can also vicariously affect their loved ones.

What Is The National Redress Scheme

The National Redress Scheme was established due to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses after Child Sexual Abuse. The royal commission sexual abuse suggested an NRS to provide support and acknowledgement to survivors of sexual abuse as a child while in the care of Australian institutions.

The National Redress Scheme:

  • acknowledges the sexual abuse
  • recognises the damage it caused
  • holds individual institutions accountable
  • offers access to counselling or psychological services
  • offers a direct personal response from the institution
  • offers national redress scheme payments

Institutions On Board With The NRS

In order to provide meaningful redress to survivors of child sexual abuse, many institutions have joined the Scheme. This includes all Commonwealth, State, and Territory government institutions, as well as a growing number of other current and defunct non-government institutions.

Some of the major churches, charities, and private institutions already participating include the Anglican, Catholic, and Uniting Churches, Salvation Army, YMCA, and Scouts Australia. You can check if a particular institution is participating in the Scheme via the Institution Search page on the National Redress website.

What You Can Do If You Are A Survivor

Dealing with institutional abuse as a survivor can be confusing and overwhelming. But it’s important to understand that you are not alone and help is available before, during, and after this process. There are several free and confidential services, groups, organisations available who can provide you and other survivors with help, support, and advice.

If you need assistance at any time, you can contact any of the following:

  • 1800 Respect - 1800 737 732
  • Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636
  • Blue Knot Foundation - 1300 657 380
  • Bravehearts - 1800 272 831
  • Care Leavers Australia - 1800 008 774
  • Headspace - 1800 650 890
  • Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800
  • Knowmore Legal Service - 1800 605 762
  • Lifeline - 13 11 14
  • Mensline - 1300 78 99 78
  • National Redress Scheme - 1800 737 377
  • ReachOut - au.reachout.com
  • Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467
  • Triple Zero – 000 (In an emergency)

Survivors of institutional abuse may also decide to pursue legal action or seek compensation. And due to significant changes to our laws since the Royal Commission, survivors now have two main options available:

  • a Redress claim through the National Scheme, which offers eligible survivors a financial payment of $10000 to $150000, counselling, psychological support, and a direct personal response from the institution responsible if requested.
  •  a civil claim for damages in court with a lawyer for child abuse case against an institution/s, individual/s, or both, which can include financial compensation for pain, suffering, medical expenses, and economic loss.

Why You Should Seek Legal Help Before Applying To The NRS

While the Redress Scheme is well suited for many survivors as the whole process is relatively less complex, it isn’t the best option for everyone. It’s also important to understand that accepting a Redress payment means you can’t change your mind later and decide to bring a damages claim.

Whether you seek redress via the NRS or pursue a common law claim for compensation, this is an important decision which should not be made lightly. While there’s no financial compensation which could ever undo the past, you should still seek legal advice to discuss your options first. That way you can move on from this knowing that you made the right decision for yourself and your circumstances.

If you’re considering applying for redress or compensation, the abuse law specialists at AJB Stevens can listen to your experience and discuss all of your options. We resolve to help you with compassion, understanding and sensitivity so you receive the outcome which you deserve.

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