Leading Australian law firm speaks out about royal commission into child abuse

Date: Jan 12, 2014

Gerard Malouf and Partners, a leading law firm in Australia, recently announced that while the royal commission into child abuse is an excellent step toward justice and healing for the country, it does not go far enough.

At it stands, the law does not guarantee that the large majority of child abuse victims – in the tens of thousands – will ever receive any form of compensation for their torment. The current law contains language that specifies a three-year time limit in which to file a lawsuit against perpetrators.

"I and all members of my firm are deeply dissatisfied with the current legal system and the one-sided time limit benefit it provides to these offenders, and unless the law is amended urgently, 90 per cent of victims will not receive any common law justice and compensation nor even simply acknowledgement of the abuse," said Gerard Malouf, principal compensation lawyer at the firm.

Mr Malouf added that it is a well-established fact that 90 per cent of child abuse victims do not report the issue for as many as 20 years. He stated a time limit of three years makes it "virtually impossible" for anyone to make a claim.

A call for change

The law firm has worked on dozens of cases that were severely impacted by the three-year time limit.

Those that have been successful have unfortunately come with their own issues, as they are the cases in which the victim has been so psychologically damaged that they have not been able to care for themselves since the abuse occurred.

"I call upon the federal government, but more particularly each state government, to immediately amend the law applicable to take into account the huge psychological barriers that people experience with this type of sexual abuse," Mr Malouf added.

"All such victims are suffering from the most exquisite emotional pain, conflict and sadness yet these symptoms alone fail to overcome the tough time threshold."

Change has to start somewhere, and the royal commision is certainly a good foothold. It is also an opportunity for the government to rectify the time limit problem.

As Mr Malouf put it, if the commission simply rehashes old events, it would be like "presenting a beautiful and abundant table of food to starving people, but not allowing them to dine."

Gerard Malouf and Partners is committed to doing all it can to achieve justice, evidenced by its no-win, no-fee policy.

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