ALHR Endorses NSW Legislation Removing Limitations on Child Abuse Claims and Calls on Federal Government to Enable Children’s Complaints to be Brought Before the UN

April 1, 2016

“Australian Lawyers for Human Rights welcomes the commencement in March of the NSW Limitation Amendment (Child Abuse) Act 2016 which removes previous restrictive limitation periods on actions for damages related to child abuse” says President Nathan Kennedy.

“Previous limitation periods made it virtually impossible for damages claims to be brought against perpetrators in this State” said Mr Kennedy, “because claims had to be made within 3 years of the victim turning 18.   As we all know, victims often do not come to terms with the effects of abuse or feel able to speak out about their experiences until decades later. Inappropriate limitation periods therefore effectively prevented victims from ever receiving compensation, resulting in substantial injustice to all NSW child abuse victims. Happily those limits have now been removed for all NSW victims, including those who attempted but failed to make claims in the past.”

“We also welcome the NSW Government’s indications that it will release a consultation paper in the coming months in relation to the Royal Commission’s other civil litigation recommendations” said Mr Kennedy.

“Hopefully,” said Mr Kennedy, “the NSW Government will build on this good work by encouraging the Federal Government to enable Australian children to take complaints of human rights violations directly to the United Nations.”

“While in 2011 the UN adopted an Optional Protocol to the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child which enables children of signatory countries to bring complaints of human rights violations affecting them directly to the United Nations, Australia has yet to ratify the Protocol. To date, 50 countries have signed on to the Protocol and 26 have ratified it. Unfortunately, Australia is not one of them.”

“This matter can be redressed with a simple stroke of the pen,” said Mr Kennedy, “and we call on the NSW Government to urge the Federal Government to take the necessary action in order to provide an additional level of protection to Australian child abuse victims.”

Media Contact: Nathan Kennedy, President ALHR Email: