Maitland survivors of child sexual abuse are being urged to have their say on whether to remove or lift the legal time limit to sue for damages.
NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard said the NSW government has released a discussion paper on whether to amend the Limitation Act 1969 as part of its response to the inquiries into child abuse in religious, non-government and government organisations.
“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has uncovered widespread claims of abuse and the legal barriers survivors face in pursuing justice many years after the event,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Civil litigation offers people an opportunity to sue perpetrators and responsible institutions for damages suffered as a result of their abuse.
“However, it is well documented that many survivors of child sexual abuse do not disclose their experiences or act on them until decades after the abuse, well after the time period has ended.”
Raworth man Bob O’Toole – who suffered at the hands of a paedophile priest – has welcomed the release of the discussion paper.
“It takes quite a long time for victims to come to grips with their trauma so it’s only fair and just that all time limits be increased or removed altogether,” Mr O’Toole said.
“I think most people in the Maitland community know of someone who has suffered abuse at the hands the clergy and I would encourage all people to have their voices heard by taking this option to reveal their opinions to the government.”
Minister for Family and Community Services Gabrielle Upton said the NSW government was working with the royal commission to ensure that care and compassion was delivered to survivors.
“As part of its support for victims of child sexual abuse, the NSW government late last year announced a range of interim measures that gave victims the compassion, recognition and practical support they deserve,” Ms Upton said.
Mr Hazzard said the NSW government wanted to hear from the community before making a final decision on whether to amend the Limitations Act.
“The discussion paper raises issues of interest to all survivors of child sexual abuse and is not confined to those abused in institutions or organisations,” he said.
To take part in the public consultation go to the NSW government Have Your Say website and give your feedback before March 10, 2015.