What compensation is available to victims of sexual abuse?

Published 30 Oct 2017

Sexual abuse has a devastating impact on survivors. The trauma of their experiences often has a long-term effect on their personal and professional lives for many years after the abuse ends.

While no amount of money can make up for the distress caused by abuse, compensation provides some comfort that the responsible individuals and organisations have been held accountable for their actions.

This is particularly important when esteemed institutions have let down victims through a failure to respond to sexual abuse allegations, or, in some cases, have actively covered up crimes.

Here are some of the ways that individuals can pursue financial redress for sexual assaults and abuse.

Recognition payments

A one-off lump sum payment is available from the NSW government through its recognition payments scheme.

The initiative offers financial support to acknowledge the trauma suffered by victims of crime, including those who have been sexually assaulted.

The payments are:

  • $10,000 for sexual assaults that involve serious bodily harm, multiple offenders or the use of a weapon;
  • $5,000 for sexual assaults; and
  • $1,500 for indecent assaults and/or attempted sexual assaults involving violence.

Survivors must provide a police report or similar document from a government agency, as well as a medical, dental or counselling report to receive compensation.

The NSW government was criticised for changing the scheme in 2013, as victims had previously been able to access payments of up to $50,000.

Institutional abuse compensation

Victims who were abused within an institutional setting, such as a church, government agency or school, may be entitled to further compensation.

The federal government is currently establishing a National Redress Scheme, with Labor already committing $33 million.

However, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has claimed a comprehensive initiative to compensate victims that could cost over $4 billion.

The commission advised that monetary payments of between $10,000 and $200,000 should be given to each child abuse victim, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Victims can also sue institutions directly for damages, potentially resulting in compensation for:

  • Non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering;
  • Past and future lost income if the victim's experiences have affected their working capacity; and
  • Past and future medical care costs, if required.

However, every case is different and legislation differs between states and territories, so it's crucial to get in touch with expert lawyers who can inform you what compensation you are entitled to. 

Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for more information.