Church commits to work with government on reforms

NSW Parliament House (WikiCommons)

The Catholic dioceses of New South Wales have committed to working with the state government on its reforms to make it easier for child sexual abuse survivors to access the civil justice system. Source: Archdiocese of Sydney.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman announced yesterday that the government will overhaul civil litigation laws to enable survivors to sue institutions responsible for child abuse as part of its policy response to the recommendations of the royal commission into child sexual abuse.

He said the new laws would do away with the so-called Ellis defence, under which certain institutions operating with associated trusts could avoid liability for child abuse.

“The NSW government will remove legal barriers that have stopped survivors of child abuse from seeking the justice they deserve,” Mr Speakman said in a statement.

The Archdiocese of Sydney said in statement that since last year, the Church in NSW has been consulting with the government about the civil litigation and criminal justice law reform needed to address the royal commission’s findings.

The NSW dioceses have indicated support for the Commonwealth Redress Scheme endorsed recently by the NSW government.

The government’s civil litigation reforms support the establishment of legal entities with sufficient assets to meet claims to be put forward as proper defendants.

“For some time now the Archdiocese of Sydney has been assisting survivors to identify proper defendants and ensuring claims are met,” Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said.

“However the NSW dioceses recognise more can be done to make access to the justice system easier.

“We support having a clear entity as a proper defendant for claims.

“Since last year, we have been consulting with the state government on ways to ensure NSW dioceses have legal entities that provide certainty, transparency and permanence, along with the financial ability to meet the claims of clerical sexual abuse survivors.

“We are encouraged by these discussions and look forward to a productive outcome in the coming months which will further offer a clear commitment by the Catholic Church to assist in the healing of survivors of abuse.”


Better access to justice for child abuse survivors (Archdiocese of Sydney)


NSW to change laws to allow child abuse survivors to sue churches (The Guardian)

Ellis defence reforms: NSW to scrap legal loophole, opening up churches to being sued (ABC)

Survivors welcome NSW law reform making it easier to sue churches for abuse (SBS)

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