Closing the loophole in abuse claims

NSW Parliament House (Wikimedia)

Organisations responsible for children would no longer be able to sidestep child abuse claims by shifting blame on to individuals under major changes being considered by the NSW government, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

The introduction of “non-delegable” duty of care would apply to religious organisations, out-of-home care facilities, juvenile detention centres, day and boarding schools, early childhood education, long daycare, family daycare, outside school hours services and preschool programs.

The institutions would be liable for the actions of “everyone” associated with them.

The onus of proof for child abuse claims would also be reversed, with liability hinging on an institution proving that it took “reasonable steps” to prevent the crimes.

Churches and other religious bodies with members accused of child abuse would no longer be able to avoid being sued as a result of being an “unincorporated association”.

Instead the government is looking at requiring institutions to nominate a defendant when sued. And to ensure victims are appropriately compensated, the government is also examining if organisations should be forced to take out insurance to cover for future child abuse claims.

Four years after the establishment of the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the government yesterday released a major discussion paper ahead of drafting legislation to make it easier for survivors of child abuse to obtain justice.

The legislation also aims to deter behaviour that could lead to abuse in the future.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the feedback from survivors, victims’ groups, legal stakeholders, institutions and the community would help determine how the government addressed the recommendations.

“The consultation paper seeks submissions on the benefits and challenges of the royal commission’s recommendations and the impact they would have on survivors and institutions responsible for the care of young people,” he said.

The consultation paper says the imposition of a new, strict non-delegable duty of care on institutions would ensure they were legally responsible for abuse “regardless of whether the institution itself is at fault”.


Child abuse claims: Rules change will put responsibility on organisations (The Sunday Telegraph)

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