The rate of children living in out-of-home-care continues to rise nationwide, and as of June 30, 2017 there were nearly 50,000 Australians living without their primary care-givers, according to the most recent data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Unfortunately, as the below case showcases, turmoil for children in state care can continue even after finding a long-term foster home.
Background of the sexual assault case
At the time of the first incident, the plaintiff was six years of age. She is now 57 years of age. She had been removed from her biological family and placed into state care. In her first year of care, she had 26 different foster placements.
She was eventually fostered by a NSW family, whom she lived with between the ages of seven and 18.
In her time spent living with her foster parents, the young girl was subject to significant sexual abuse from her foster father and horrific physical abuse from her foster mother. She was forced to partake in numerous sexual activities with her father, which included penile penetration. Such acts would occur multiple times per day and continued for years. The plaintiff reported that her foster mother was extremely rigid with rules and often physically punished her for failing to adhere to her ways.
Things came to a head when the plaintiff was around 18 years of age. She returned home from work and, in an argument with her foster mother, revealed that her foster father had been sexually assaulting her for years. The young woman then left the home and went to live with a friend.
In 2014, the plaintiff made a statement to the police about the aforementioned abuse. As a result, the defendant was charged with five counts of sexual assault, to which he pled guilty,
How did the court respond to the evidence?
The court carefully reviewed the oral evidence and concluded that the abuse had significantly impacted the woman's quality of life. Further, it believed the woman would continue suffering as a result of the sexual abuse for the rest of her life.
As such, the court felt that $650,670 was a fair amount of total damages to offer the plaintiff.
No amount of money can remedy the trauma that sexual assault victims suffer, but it's a great step in the right direction for seeking justice. If you're a victim of sexual assault and are ready to seek help, get in touch with the legal team at Gerard Malouf & Partners.