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Filing for Foster Care Abuse Compensation

Overview

Foster care abuse

Abuse of any kind can leave emotional and psychological effects for a lifetime. Foster care abuse is especially hard to deal with because the violations occur as a child or adolescent — a time when someone is learning about the world and how to trust the people around them. If you were a victim of foster care abuse, you may be entitled to compensation to cover the cost of recovering from the trauma and the wages you may have lost as a result.

Gerard Malouf & Partners is here to help you along the way.

Child abuse in foster care is never justified

It’s hard enough being put into the foster care system. It’s even harder when the care home you’re forced to live in employs abusive management or allows abusive people to adopt you. 

As a child, you may have grown up thinking this abuse was a normal way of life until you entered into the world as an adult and noticed other children did not go through the same types of treatment. Or you may have been adopted into a family and realised that the adoptive parents do not punish you in the same way your foster care home did for certain mistakes or in similar circumstances. 

To familiarise yourself, here are some common forms of abuse:

  • Voyeurism.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Sexual harassment.
  • Sexual violence. 
  • Molestation. 
  • Exposure. 
  • Physical or verbal abuse.

 

Foster care abuse claims are often lodged against the institution rather than the abuser. Luckily, this does not mean that you will need to file against your abuser directly, nor are you likely to see them during the claims process. 

When you choose to file, your foster abuse lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners will help you determine the next steps. Because most cases are settled outside of court, you will not need to compile any evidence to support your claim. Instead, you will go over your institutional abuse experience with your lawyer who will calmly, patiently and empathetically listen and take notes. Your lawyer will not interrogate you but only ask supporting questions, offering you a safe space to share what happened. 

Before your consultation, it may be helpful to document your experience as you remember it if you didn’t keep a journal when you were a child as well. This can help you recall the historical sexual abuse or physical assault when you’re talking with your lawyer. 

If the case goes to court because the institute in question or the abuser will not come to a settlement, documentation will help support your claim. You should also seek professional psychological help — not only to get a diagnosis, but also to show proof you are seeking counselling.

Process

Your foster care abuse lawyers

If an institutional practitioner might suspect that a child is being physically or sexually abused, they have an obligation to file a police report or call child protection. 

The World Health Organisation defines child abuse and neglect as “All forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”

Realising you or someone you know has experienced institutional child abuse can be a jarring experience. The best foot forward is to seek legal justice. Here are the details you need to know.

How long do you have to file a claim?

For this type of claim, there are no time limits if you or someone you know incurred the abuse as a child and the events involved sexual or serious physical abuse. This means that abuse survivors can claim at any time. However, as more time passes, details may slowly start to fall away or be forgotten. If this is the case, it’s helpful to speak with a lawyer and seek psychological help to assess and investigate the particulars of your claim.

If the child abuse was not sexual or seriously physical, then the victim has until their 21st birthday to lodge a claim, or else their right to seek recourse for the abuse could be lost.

Who can file a claim?

Anyone can come forward to claim institutional sexual abuse or physical assault. While some parties are legally responsible for reporting the abuse (such as the abuser, institutional professionals, a foster caregiver and so on), anyone who suspects abuse can file. Someone will need to call the Child Abuse Report Line in their state to lodge a claim and begin an investigation.

Under the National Redress Scheme, only people who have been abused can file a claim. While anyone can lodge a concern with the Child Abuse Report Line, you must be the person who was abused to file the claim and potentially receive redress compensation. The abuse must have been physical or sexual, must have happened before July 2018, and the institution responsible for your care must have put you in contact with the abuser. You must have also been an Australian resident born before July 2010 and younger than the age of 18 at the time of the abuse.

What type of claim can you file?

When sexual or physical abuse is conducted on a child in foster care, there are one of two claims one can lodge:

  • A National Redress Scheme: This is a scheme that is set up by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for people who experienced sexual abuse while a resident at an Australian-sponsored institution. It not only offers an avenue for legal justice and compensation, but also provides psychological support and therapy. 
  • A civil abuse compensation claim: This involves making a legal claim against the abuser or the institution and proving that not only did you experience the abuse, but that the institution knew about the experience and did nothing about it.

 

You will not be able to file a civil claim if you have already accepted a redress payment from the institution. Some foster care systems set up recompense schemes like these to acknowledge abuse that happened, apologise to the victim in any way that feels comfortable and provide compensation and counselling. The institution will also indicate how it has made changes to the program to avoid further abuse of other children.

Compensation types you can claim

If you file for a civil claim, you are eligible to claim abuse compensation for:

  • The loss of future and past earnings you missed out on because of the abuse.
  • Any future expenses you may have incurred now or in the future.
  • Treatment costs, such as therapy, you may have paid for in the past and will in the future.
  • The pain and suffering you have incurred. 

Compensation will likely vary based on the person and their experience. A lump-sum payment will reflect the amount of risk involved in the claim and will only be paid once.

However, every case is different and human services will handle each case on an individual basis. When you contact the local authority to make your initial report, you’ll want to ensure that you are also jotting down documentation of your experience so you have it as proof of the call.

How long is the process?

After you make a claim, and your Gerard Malouf & Partners lawyer begins working on your case, the resolution may take up to 14 months. Some factors that could lead to a long process include:

  • Finding proof of enrollment or attendance at the institution in question.
  • Filing against multiple institutions or abusers. 
  • Uncovering whether your case is the first of its kind or if there are multiple claims against the same people or institutions.

However, fewer complexities could mean a shorter claims process.

There is such a thing called fast-tracked claims for foster abuse cases, but such claims require exigent circumstances. For example, an abuse survivor may have fallen terminally ill and may not have long to live, or have another reason for urgency, yet wants to see justice for themselves in their lifetime.

Gerard Malouf & Partners

When to contact compensation lawyers

You should contact a foster care system abuse lawyer right away, as soon as you realise or want to file a claim. It can be a long and arduous process to handle on your own and you want a professional who has seen and handled cases like this before. Not only can compensation help you move forward with counselling and reclaiming lost wages, but it could spark a series of investigations into the institution that could be extremely helpful for other people like you. 

Childhood sexual abuse or physical abuse is never justified. Your team at Gerard Malouf & Partners will work on your case to provide you with swift justice. We offer a first-time, no-obligation consultation to go over your case and set a plan for what’s to come. 

To get started or to set up your no-obligation consultation, contact a Gerard Malouf & Partners lawyer today.

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