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Amy Olver

Published: 11 September 2015
Author: Amy Olver

Institutional sexual abuse: The commonly asked questions.

This is the first in a new series of blogs for people considering making a claim for compensation for the sexual and physical abuse they may have suffered.

Making a claim for sexual abuse compensation through RCT

How do I make an institutional abuse claim?

Ryan Carlisle Thomas has the largest and most experienced legal team of solicitors and support staff in institutional abuse. Since the early 1990s we have acted for around 2500 clients nation-wide who have suffered physical and sexual abuse, including former Wards of the State, children abused in religious institutions and foster care.

As leaders in the field, we pioneered a protocol with the State of Victoria for settling out of court civil claims for abuse that occurred in the care of the State. This means that survivors of abuse can avoid the time and emotional stress of the court process. The protocol has been adopted by many other defendants who were in charge of non-government institutions for the benefit of survivors of abuse who are seeking a financial payment from religious and non-government institutions as well. 

What do I need to prove?

In order to bring a claim in relation to the institutional abuse that you suffered, we must establish that the State of Victoria or other relevant authority was negligent in the care that they provided to you and, as a result of that negligence, you have suffered injury. This requires proving that the State or other relevant authority knew or ought to have known that you were abused or that you were at risk and there was a failure to take reasonable care.

What are the initial steps?

We understand that contacting solicitors is a big step in this process and that sometimes it is the first time a survivor has spoken to anyone about the abuse they suffered. That’s why, when you first contact Ryan Carlisle Thomas, your enquiry is referred to a solicitor practising in the area who will call you back to introduce themselves and explain the process. This is a good opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about the process you are about to undertake. Where possible, the solicitor you make first contact with remains your solicitor throughout your claim.

We begin investigating your potential claim by requesting any records that might exist from the period you were abused, including freedom of information requests from relevant government departments to obtain records kept by the State of Victoria whilst you were a ward of the State.

Once these records are received and reviewed by our team we take a statement from you about your experiences of abuse. We understand that this is extremely difficult, so we provide you with the option of providing your statement in person at one of our offices or via telephone from the comfort of your home.

A comprehensive analysis of your potential claim is then made. As a result of our extensive experience and knowledge in the field and the willingness of many survivors to allow their stories to be used in support of other claims, we have built a large database of information about offenders and institutions. This database allows us to identify what evidence we have to support your allegations and establish the negligence of the defendants including evidence from past and current clients regarding the same offenders or the same type of abuse in the same institutions that you experienced abuse. Evidence of this type can be crucial in supporting your allegations of abuse and strengthening your potential claim.

Our solicitors will then provide you with advice in relation to your potential claim and advise what further steps will be necessary in order to secure you a financial payment.

We have helped many survivors of abuse to achieve significant financial payments through this informal settlement process. If you would like to seek advice in relation to a potential claim, please contact our office on 1300 366 441.

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