Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3954 ..
There are many organisations within which predators can hide. I would not want to limit this bill. We would hate to have to revisit this topic should another victim find themselves without a proper defendant to pursue.
As we have had a cooperative approach to this bill and have received positive feedback from stakeholders, we will be supporting this bill. In doing so, I will leave the last words to John Ellis himself, who said:
All survivors of institutional abuse have ever asked for is justice, and access to justice is absolutely essential for those people, and certainly the Ellis defence has been one of the major barriers that survivors of abuse have faced.
As we confine the Ellis defence to the annals of legal history, I hope we can look forward now, in this state and throughout the country, to a society where child protection, and where the accountability of those institutions who take that sacred trust of looking after children can be given the provenance it deserves.
The Canberra Liberals support this bill.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.15): I stand today in support of this bill, and I note that it is consistent with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, specifically recommendation 94, in regard to redress and civil litigation.
This bill supports survivors to be able to sue a readily identifiable church or other entity that has financial capacity to meet claims of institutional child abuse. These institutions have a legal liability to prevent such abuse, particularly in light of the royal commission.
The royal commission, as we all know, revealed long-term, systematic child sexual abuse, and cover-up of that abuse, by a range of institutions which exist officially to provide protection, safety and wellbeing. These include churches and faith-based organisations, residential care organisations, educational organisations, and more. The impacts of such abuse are far reaching, and often sustained in the long term.
They can be devastating and manifest in numerous ways, not the least of which is an inability to trust, and an undermining of self-belief in their personal worth. Many survivors have a difficult life path, struggling to deal with the effects of the abuse which can manifest in mental health, drug and alcohol issues, and engagement with the criminal justice system.
The royal commission has encouraged people to talk about child sexual abuse in a way that never previously existed. Many have disclosed their abuse for the first time. For some, it was as long as 50 years after the fact. The stigma of talking about such things has been reduced. Because of this we can logically assume that there will be more people coming forward to seek redress. Having the opportunity to apply for redress to an institution is a vital and imperative part of a survivor’s journey, and one which should—and hopefully will, not just may—assist them in their journey to recovery