Civil Litigation

This post is an excerpt from Open Place’s recent newsletter (Volume 26, May 2016).

The Victorian Senate report, Betrayal of Trust and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have all made recommendations about the need to provide external oversight to ensure that claims made against institutions, via civil litigation for abuse, are transparent and non‐adversarial.

To our knowledge there is only one existing out of home care agency in Victoria that has a detailed description of how it approaches allegations of past abuse in care. Abuse allegations that require civil litigation are still long, slow adversarial and often traumatic to the survivor. This is despite the restorative intent of the recommendations of the Senate Report, Betrayal of Trust and the Royal Commission.

This is not good enough. Along with the implementation of a redress scheme it is time that both the state government and the agencies implemented systems that abide by these recommendations (that go back over 12 years!).

The implementation of a redress scheme does not exclude the need for civil litigation. Civil litigation processes must get better to ensure that they do not harm survivors, are transparent and open to review.

Open Place will continue to agitate for changes to the civil litigation processes in Victoria.

[Editor’s note:  What do other Find & Connect support services think about civil litigation processes in your state or territory? We would love to hear from you about your experience.]

Author: Simon Gardiner
Simon Gardiner is the manager of Open Place (the Find & Connect Support Service in Victoria). Simon’s background is in social work and nursing, and has worked for Anglicare Victoria and the Department of Human Services. Simon’s nursing background includes palliative and oncology nursing and a 9 month stint as a community nurse working in Sudan with refugees from Ethiopia.